Google Photos: How Can I Identify Which Specific Files Are Taking Up Storage Space?

Google Photos

Google Photos is a great app, but we need to recognize that some essential parts of how it works on Android don’t make much sense, like using storage. For example, it is normal for the app to occupy more than 1GB of internal storage or even 10GB cases, as shown in the discussion within this forum.

Ironically, one of the strengths of Google Photos is that you can free up space on your smartphone by backing up your photos to the cloud and then deleting them from your phone just to… make space!

According to Google, your storage space — contracted or free — is shared between Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos. This means that the free 15GB is split between cloud services. In my case, it currently looks like this:

  • Google Drive: 13.08 GB
  • Gmail: 1.01 GB
  • Google Photos: 0.89 GB

To see how much space you have left, go to on your computer.

How the Google Photos Cloud Works

On Google Photos, it’s good to remember that free image storage was once unlimited for “High Quality” photos, but it isn’t anymore. “Original Size” photos also take up space and can be compressed to save a few gigabytes. If a picture is more significant than 16 MP, it will be understood as an “Original Size” photo and resized.

You can print quality 16 MP photos in sizes up to 60 x 40 cm for an idea. That’s why Google calls them “High Quality” photos, more than enough.

Videos over 1080p (HDTV) will be resized to 1080p high definition. Some information (closed captions) may be lost in compression.

If you exceed the limit given by Google, you can still buy more space.

What does Google Photos understand as “Original Quality”?

  • Videos and photos are stored at the exact capture resolution;
  • Recommended for photos over 16 MP and videos over 1080p;
  • Recommended for printing large banners or huge jobs.

But what if free storage space runs out?

In the case of Google Photos, you will be asked to buy more storage space with Google or disable backup.

How to free up space on Google Photos

  1. Buy storage space on Google

If you need to store more media, you can buy space. Consider subscribing to storage plans that may be temporary.

Your Google Account comes with 15 GB free to use on Google Drive, Gmail and Google Photos, and you can upgrade your plan for a monthly or annual fee — depending on your needs at the time. You will subscribe to the new Google One.

How to Upgrade Google Drive Storage

  1. On your computer, go to ;
  2. Make sure you are logged in to the correct Google account (for those who use more than one);
  3. Select a storage plan of the size you want;
  4. Follow the instructions to enter payment information;
  5. Click on “Subscribe”.

Compress photos and videos to “High Quality”

You can free up space by changing the size of videos and photos from “Original” to “High Quality”, which takes up less storage space.

  1. On your computer, go to ;
  2. Make sure you are logged in to the correct Google account (for those who use more than one);
  3. Click on “Recover Storage”;
  4. This will not change the quality of your future uploads (only current ones).

Note: You can only “reclaim storage” once a day in Photos.

The process will change photos or videos uploaded on products:

  • blogger
  • Google Maps
  • Google Photos
  • Google+
  • Hangouts
  • Panoramio
  • Picasa albums
  • YouTube channel art on the web

If you change the key to “High Quality”, all new uploads will be done with it.

Permanently delete photos and videos

Finally, if you don’t want/can buy more storage space, nor want to compress your media to “High Quality”, you can try deleting some files.

  1. On your computer, go to ;
  2. Make sure you are logged in to the correct Google account (for those who use more than one);
  3. Place your cursor over the items you want to move to the trash;
  4. In the upper left corner, click on “Select” (for multiple items);
  5. In the upper right corner, click on “Delete” (trash).

Don’t forget to empty the Google Drive trash

To definitively free up the occupied space, we enter the Google Drive trash (we can do it from the following link ), select all the files that we have moved to this trash in the previous step and, by right-clicking on them, we will choose the option « Delete permanently. «

Now the data will have been permanently deleted from our Google Drive account. We will wait a few seconds, and we can see how this valuable space has now been freed up for us. Now we will have free space in the cloud again that we can use to save the files that we want or need always to have available. This will not erase your photos, which are safe on your mobile phone and also in the Google cloud. The only thing you’ll lose is the app’s configuration.


The next time you open Google Photos, it will be like you just installed it. You must reconfigure it, although after logging in, the process is very quick. What bothers me the most is to keep clicking on all the tips and information wizards?

And yes, the solution is only momentary. As you use Google Photos, it starts hogging your phone’s storage space again. Until Google doesn’t include a limit or a way to control it from within the app, your only alternative is to periodically wipe the data every time you notice it’s starting to take up too much space again. It’s not the most comfortable way, but it works.

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