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How to Transfer Photos from iCloud to Google Photos

4 min read

Apple’s iCloud is a great service if you’re an iPhone user, but what if you’re tempted to make the jump to Android? While there is a way to manually transfer your images and photos from one phone to another, that quickly becomes an issue when you take larger iCloud libraries into consideration, some of which can come in at over 100GB depending on how many snaps and videos are saved.

The good news is that there are a handful of ways to transfer photos and videos from iCloud to Google Photos, including using Apple’s new Data & Privacy tools to directly transfer content from iCloud to another service. We explain all you need to know right here.  

How to transfer iCloud photos and videos to Google Photos

When it comes to transferring your iCloud library to Google Photos, there are two ways to do it: using the Google Photos app and using Apple’s Data and Privacy tools.

Using the Google Photos app

If you’ve got a relatively small library of photos and videos on your iPhone synced with iCloud, the quickest and easiest way to transfer your content to Google Photos is to simply download the Google Photos app for iOS.

Once downloaded, you log in with your Google account and begin the syncing process; the app will make a copy of most, if not all, of the photos and videos stored on your phone.

The time this takes will vary depending on the amount of content to upload and the speed of your internet connection, but it’ll happen automatically in the background, so no need to keep the app on screen the entire time. Once transferred, you’ve even got the option of deleting all the backed-up content from your phone to free up some space – but that’s not a mandatory step.

Of course, if you’ve got literally thousands of photos and videos to upload and a relatively slow internet connection, that process is less than ideal – those in that situation should use Apple’s new Data & Privacy tools instead.

Using Apple’s Data & Privacy tools

In an early 2020 update to its Data & Privacy tools, Apple introduced the ability to transfer photos and videos stored in iCloud to another cloud service provider without the need to download an app – it’s all done directly via iCloud and third-party cloud providers. The direct transfer service is limited to Google Photos for now, but it’s expected to expand support with other cloud providers in the coming months.

Before you go down this path, there are a few requirements listed by Apple, namely that you use iCloud to store your content, you have two-factor authentication enabled on your account, you have a Google account to transfer the content to and, most importantly, your Google account has enough storage available to complete the transfer.

This might not have been a concern up until now, but Google has confirmed that the free unlimited photo storage in Google Photos is set to come to an end in June 2021, meaning that like with iCloud, you’ll likely have to pay a monthly fee to store your library.

To use Apple’s tools to transfer content from iCloud to Google Photos:

  1. Log in to Apple’s Data and Privacy tools using the Apple ID linked to your iCloud library.
  2. Locate the Transfer a copy of your data section and click Request to transfer a copy of your data.
  3. Select Google Photos as the destination in the drop-down menu, check whether you’d like to transfer photos or videos (or both) and click Continue.
  4. Confirm that you’ve got enough space in your Google account for the transfer.
  5. Sign in to the Google account you’d like to transfer your iCloud library to.
  6. Give Apple permission to add your photos and videos to your Google Photos account.
  7. Verify your details and hit the Confirm Transfer button to initiate the process.

The transfer will then begin, a process that’ll take between 3 and 7 days according to Apple, although this will likely depend on the size of your iCloud library. Once the transfer is complete, you’ll get a confirmation email.

What are the limitations of transferring photos and videos to Google Photos?

Google Photos is a great alternative to iCloud to store your digital memories, but it’s not the perfect replacement, with Apple confirming that it won’t be able to transfer Smart Albums, some RAW files and Live Photos to Google’s cloud service, although you will still get a still-image version of the latter in Google’s library.

Images that have been edited in the Photos app for iPhone will transfer, but it’ll only transfer the most recent edit – not the original. Oh, and once the transfer is complete, your album and video filenames will begin with “Copy of”.

It’s not the perfect transfer process, then, but if you want to break free of Apple’s walled garden, it’s a pretty easy thing to do.  

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