Google Photos is a well-known photo storage service. Although he excels in his work, people are confused about how it works. Many wonder about the privacy of their photos in Google Photos – are they private or visible to everyone? And if they’re visible to the public, how do you make sure Google Photos is private? This is what we will tell you in this article.
Google Photos comes preinstalled on phones running Stock Android. But you can also install it on other Android phones and even on iPhone. You can also access the photos from its web version available at photos.google.com.
Now let’s see how to make sure your photos are private in Google Photos.
How to tell if my photos in Google Photos are private
To do this, you need to understand how Google Photos works.
When you install or open the Google Photos app, you’ll notice that it has your Google Account. This is where everyone starts to worry about the privacy of their photos. Basically, Google Photos is a backup and synchronization service, not a social network. And that’s why it needs a Google account to back up and synchronize your data. However, you can also use it on your phone without an account.
Google Photos performs four functions, which affects the privacy of your photos.
Google Photos as a Gallery app
First of all, it acts as a gallery app on your phone, showing you the photos and videos available on the phone. Even if the Google account is connected, do not panic because the photos are private. Yes, unless you activate the backup function, all your photos on your phone are private. So you don’t have to do anything to make them private as they are private by default only.
Google Photos as a backup tool
Second, it works as a photo backup service. Only when you activate the backup function in the Google Photos app will your photos be uploaded to the Google Photos cloud. You can also add photos from the web version of Google Photos. Again, photos are always private, even when their backup is in the cloud. No one except you can see them. So you don’t need to change the privacy or security settings in Google Photos in this case too.
Google Photos as a synchronization tool
In addition to backing up your photos, it continuously synchronizes your existing data between various connected devices. This is where you have to be careful.
This means that everything that is already available on the Google Photos server (or added via connected Google accounts) will automatically become visible on the Google Photos application on your phone with the same Google account.
For example, if you add your Google account to your friend’s phone, they will have access to the photos in your Google Photos account. Likewise, if you install Google Photos on your secondary phone and sign in with the same Google account on that phone, the backup of the photos from the first phone will automatically synchronize with the second phone.
In this case, there is nothing you can do except add your Google Account to someone else’s phone. If you did, you need to delete the Google account from their phone.
Google Photos as a sharing tool
The only common way for others to see your Google photos is to share them using the sharing features provided by Google Photos.
Note: Only saved images can be shared. If the backup feature is turned off and you share a photo, it will first be uploaded to Google Photos.
We will not go into the sharing features offered by Google Photos as we covered them in detail in our separate article. However, for reference, we will briefly explain the multiple ways to share and how to ensure that the shared photos are secure.
There are three methods for sharing photos via Google Photos:
- Share with other Google Photos users
- Share via Google Photos link
- Share via a partner account
In all three cases, the other person can share your shared photos with more people. This can happen through the link sharing feature of Google Photos or by downloading them. The latter needs no explanation.
When it comes to links, each image or video in Google Photos has a unique link. If you share the link, anyone with access to this link can see the photo. For example, if you share with your friend A and A shares with his friend B, then B can see the photo. The image link can also be generated for any shared photo.
Try Google Photos Alternative
In conclusion, Google Photos does not offer any dedicated privacy or security settings, because photos are private by default, unless you share them.
If you like Google Photos but aren’t comfortable with the backup or sharing feature, you should try its offline version on Android known as Gallery Go. It’s a lightweight alternative to Google Photos that offer similar functionality but without the Internet. So your photos are secure and private.
Not happy with the Google Photos app and plan to uninstall it? Know what happens if you uninstall Google Photos from your phone using the following link.
Last updated Jan 30, 2020