I have my photos in Apple Photos (both on iOS and my Mac), synced with iCloud, and I'd like to keep things that way, but I'd also like to have all my photos available in Google Photos at the same time, without disrupting my Apple Photos. Is it possible to do this?

I understand that, when given access to my Apple Photos on iOS, Google Photos works like any other app, and provides a view on the Photos that are stored in Apple Photos: The photos remain "in" Apple Photos and Google Photos is just providing another way to access them.

But I'm not clear on what happens if I enable "backup & sync" in Google Photos (on iOS). Initially I assume this copies all of the Apple Photos to Google's servers, but a few things are not clear to me:

  • Does Google Photos also make an additional local copy of each photo, or are any Apple Photos just present locally in Apple Photos?
  • What happens if I delete a Google Photo that came from Apple Photos, is it deleted in Apple Photos as well?
  • Can I independently organize photos in Google Photos that are synced from Apple Photos into Google-only albums?
  • If I edit or change an Apple Photo, is that change synced with Google Photos (just as it is with iCloud).

In short, what I'm hoping for is that Google Photos just serves as another synchronized backup for my Apple Photos, alongside iCloud, with it's own album structure. Is that the case?

All this assumes that I don't enable the innocent-seeming "free up space" setting, which (I think) would delete all Apple Photos on my iOS device.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's mainly about cloud syncing, not photography, and a better fit at the AskDifferent apple.SE. \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Jun 29, 2017 at 18:44

1 Answer 1


The cloud back up would happen as the following.

  1. Only your local photos would be copied to the cloud.
  2. Google photos / Apple Photos, Backs up your local images, They make a copy in the cloud, So as long you have the local photo there may be a copy in both, Google and Apple photo.
  3. If you delete de image in your phone you may still have it on the cloud, However if you delete the image from the cloud, They may ask you if you want to delete this file completly.
  4. IF you delete the image from Google photos, Apple will have the cloud backup since they are different apps, however in order to delete a picture you have to go to each individually.
  5. If you edit a picture in the cloud, Then wont be backed however if you save it as a new file this would have to be backed up again, Which means that could create a new image, Making tedious to delete the original copy which would still being in both. (Edits and need to change it for a new name)

Think of it on this way if you delete any picture from your phone you may need to delete it from both, Google and Apple photo in order to erase it completly.

IF you delete it from any them, Google or Apple photo, One could delete the image, But you may still have one copy. Either Apple or Google but never locally since they erase the picture often from both, The cloud and locally.

[Phone] - > [Google] * [Apple]

Hope it helps.

  • \$\begingroup\$ After experimenting a bit more it seems that almost everything works as one would expect. Photos from photos on my phone that are synced to Google Photos (through the app) sync fully to the Google cloud and any edits or deletions are synced too (with a warning on the device if the sync will change it there). Apple iCloud syncs with Photos, so that just happens normally in parallel. Is that right? \$\endgroup\$
    – orome
    Sep 30, 2016 at 15:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ The only things that are confusing are (1) that additions to Google Photos in the cloud (e.g. through the browser on the desktop) are only visible there, and do not sync down to the phone (which is odd); and (2) that there's no UI on the phone for photos that are in the cloud but not synced to the device. \$\endgroup\$
    – orome
    Sep 30, 2016 at 15:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, it looks like deletions from Apple Photos for images that have already been backed up to Google Photos (in the cloud) are not deleted from Google Photos. \$\endgroup\$
    – orome
    Oct 20, 2016 at 22:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.