A Google Photos redesign is promising to help alleviate one of the main headaches of managing your bulging library of snaps – finding your screenshots and separating them your actual photos.
As part of a refresh that’s “coming soon” to Android phones (and in much more limited way on iOS), Google Photos will now have a ‘Screenshots’ shortcut at the top of your main photo grid.
This will be for Pixel or Android phone owners who save their screenshots locally, rather than backing them up to Google’s cloud service – and is designed to make sure you don’t forget about the memes, reminders or visual notes you’ve taken, while scrolling through your Google Photos library.
The redesign will also bring a more intuitive ‘Library’ tab on Android phones (see below), which will have a new filtering system for your never-ending list of albums. These filters will include ‘Your albums’, ‘Shared albums’ and, importantly, ‘On-device’, which should again make it easier to track down those screenshots.
But while these changes are welcome, they don’t fully alleviate the Google Photos’ problem with screenshots. Google says the feature is for those who are “using a Pixel or another Android device where your screenshots are saved to their own device folder”, but that isn’t a simple process for some Android phones.
The historical issue for many Android users, like owners of Samsung and Xiaomi phones, is that their smartphone screenshots aren’t saved by default to a separate device folder. Instead, they go into the ‘DCIM’ folder, alongside their photos, that Google Photos backs up.
This means that many Google Photos users have had to use workarounds, like using an Auto File Transfer app, that automatically moves screenshots away from that ‘DCIM’ folder. There’s no similar workaround for iOS users at all, either. So while Google Photos’ new ‘Screenshot’ shortcut will be handy for some, it doesn’t fully solve the headache of separating your memories from taxi receipts.
Still, Google Photos is at least also bringing some extra powers for editing your screenshots. It says that “coming soon on Android” you’ll also see new options to copy text, crop or search your screenshots, thanks to Google Lens. That should make it easier to sort out our expenses, at least. Talking of which…
Analysis: Papering over the digital cracks
These Google Photos screenshot problems, and the partial solutions Google is bringing to the latest version of its Android app, show how differently we use our smartphone cameras, compared to traditional DSLRs.
For many, photos or memories might even be a minority part of their camera roll, among the messy shoebox of visual notes, receipts, museums, reminders and accidental screengrabs. This is particularly important now that Google Photos has ended its unlimited free storage, which is why many users have looked for ways to turn off the automatic backup of screenshots.
That is now pretty straightforward on many Android phones, but it’s still annoyingly complex on others – and it’s still impossible for Google Photos fans who use iPhones. So while the new shortcuts and Google Lens features are nice, they don’t address the root problem of finding a universal solution for separating screenshots from your cloud photo library.
Naturally, Google Photos is less keen to find solutions for images that are stored outside of its cloud library. But its experience would be a lot smoother if it could focus some of its smarts on fixing Google Photos’ foundations rather than flashy new AI features.
Mark is the Cameras Editor at TechRadar. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he’s contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won the Daily Telegraph’s Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London’s Square Mile.