How to transfer iCloud Photo Library to Google Photos

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If you’re wanting to back up your iCloud Photo Library, or move it to another service entirely, Apple makes the process of moving to Google Photos easier than ever with a new transfer utility.

Image: CNET

Apple has been constantly improving their iCloud Photo Library service ever since it launched back in iOS 8 in 2014. Over the last nearly seven years the service has been around, it has solidly backed up millions of user’s photos to iCloud and kept them save through many device transitions.

Photos are some of the most precious data that users carry around with them on their devices, and as such, many users utilize multiple services to back up photos. Google Photos is one such offering. Apple has recognized that users may wish to back up their photos to other services and has built an export tool that lets users easily transfer iCloud Photo Library photos to Google Photos.

Whether you’re looking to perform a one-time backup of your iCloud Photo Library, or move to Google Photos permanently, this guide will show you how to use the tools provided by Apple to easily transition your photos from the iCloud Photo Library service to Google Photos while maintaining the photos on both services.

SEE: Cloud data storage policy (TechRepublic Premium)

About the transfer tool

Apple introduced the ability to directly transfer the contents of your iCloud Photo Library to Google Photos in March 2021. This tool is available on Apple Privacy tools page and can sync your photos directly with Google Photos without the need to first download them, then re-upload from your own computer, saving time, disk space and bandwidth.

This utility is currently only available to users residing in Australia, Canada, the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Apple notes that this tool will not remove any content from your iCloud Photo Library, and will only transfer the content in your library over to Google Photos. This request takes three to seven days to complete. Apple says this time frame allows them to verify that the request to move content was indeed made by you.

In addition, Apple has a section on their transfer help document that explains the following things you’ll need before continuing with a transfer: 

  • You’re using iCloud Photos to store photos and videos with Apple.
  • Your Apple ID uses two-factor authentication.
  • You have a Google account to use Google Photos.
  • Your Google account has enough storage available to complete the transfer. 

How to make the transfer request

If you wish to transfer a copy your photos from iCloud Photo Library over to Google Photos, perform these steps: 

  1. Open the Apple Privacy website.
  2. Select the button labeled Request To Transfer A Copy Of Your Data.
  3. You will be presented with a few questions asking where you’d like the data copied to. Select Google Photos, then select what content you’d like to be copied–you can select just photos, videos or both (Figure A). Click Continue.
  4. You’ll be given the storage requirements for your Google Photos account, then asked to connect your Google account.
  5. After connecting your accounts, you’ll be taken to an overview page that will let you confirm transfers. Select Confirm Transfers.
  6. Over the next three to seven days, you’ll receive a confirmation of the transfers, which you must agree to in order for the transfers to process, as a part of Apple’s verification.

Figure A

icloudphotolibtransfer-figure-a.jpg

Select Google Photos as the destination, then choose which content you’d like to transfer.

There are some limitations of Google Photos surrounding file formats and the number of items that can be contained inside of an album that don’t exist that can complicate the transfer. Before transferring your library, consider reading through the section labeled “About the photos and videos that are transferred” in the Apple support documentation for iCloud Photo Library transfers.

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