Google Photos no longer syncing to Google Drive


I’ve just read that Google Photos may stop syncing photos into Google Drive, possibly as soon as later this year (

This is not Insync’s problem. However, [Google Photos] --> [Google Drive] --> [My Computer via Insync] is my method of backing up my photos locally. Since I manage my parents’ photos as well as mine over 3 Google accounts (hence Insync) and there are about 30,000 photos to keep track of, what happens next is a critical issue for me.

I have been looking for a mechanism to easily download pictures from Google Photos - that is NOT Google Drive - but I can’t seem to find one.

I was wondering if Insync could

  1. Keep track of the what is going on with Google Photos / Google Drive synchronisation and keep the community updated via the Insync Blog. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only person who would want to know what the status of this is.

  2. As a feature request, could Insync branch off into directly synchronising Google Photos (if that is possible). Even if it is not synchronised, using Insync to make a one directional copy from Google Photos to my local computer would be of immense value.

Could you let me know if either of these is possible?



Same here and since Google is pulling the plug in July this matter got quite more pressing.

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Rclone recently adds support for Google photos:

We can lookup code for examples.

rclone hasn’t added support for Google Photos yet,
plus its planned Google Photos backend doesn’t have integration/sync with Google Drive,
plus it can only upload in “original” mode, not the unlimited “high quality” mode,
plus many other limitations as detailed on rclone’s GitHub page here.

Most of these limitations are caused by Google Photos public API’s inherent limitations. It’s unlikely that any other 3rd party client (including Insync) can workaround them to create the Google Photos <-> Google Drive sync experience previously provided by Google’s software.

I’ve been working on this issue for the last 2-3 weeks. I have not yet found a suitable solution, though I have a Rube Goldberg patchjob.

First issue: The number of photos in my Google Photos folder in Google Drive was MUCH less than the number of photos I got when I used Google Takeout to retrieve my photos. Google Takeout had more than 5,000 photos extra, so this is not a minor rounding error. Something to be aware about. (also, empty Google Photos trash before using Google Takeout).

Second issue: Rebuilding your photo collection from Google Takeout is a nightmare. It’s possible, but boy do I not want to do this again.

Third issue: I’ve chosen to manage my photos on my hard drive, and simply upload the tagged photos to a cloud solution. This way, I can have a backup of my photos with their tag information that is not trapped in a cloud provider. If you tag photos in cloud providers like Google Photos and Flickr (I think), the tags are not part of the photo metadata when you download the photo, but are in a separate json file which for amateurs like me is useless.

I’m using Windows Essentials Photo 2012 as my photo management and it is still VERY good. I’d recommend it. It has good face recognition, the ability to create EXIF and XMP tags, and easy to make changes to dates in photos. And it’s the easiest of the photo management pieces of software to use. (A caveat: the Windows Essentials Photos face recognition data does not carry over to any other piece of software).

Fourth issue: Google Photos ignores your EXIF / XMP tags. So you can’t tag a photo on your computer, upload the photo, and then search for the photo on Google Photos using those tags. (SmugMug seems to be able to do this though)

This is a real issue - you have to tag your photos twice - on your computer and on Google Photos, which creates for a nightmare workflow.

Fifth issue: Managing on your photos on your computer with Insync running tends to slow Insync and your hard drive to a crawl. From what I’ve found, there is no problem with Insync (kudos to you developers), but the sheer volume of files overwhelms everything. I’ve had to turn off Insync when I’m managing my 35,000 photos.

I have NO final solution yet. My current system is a hodgepodge that isn’t working terribly well. So far all I’ve learned is that Google Photos is not a very good photo organiser, and that it’s not a solution if you want backups of your photos with the metadata kept intact. I’m still exploring solutions.

Software I’ve been using:
Windows Essentials Photo Gallery 2012
ExifPilot (the free version so I can read Exif / XMP / IPTC metadata)
EXIF Date Changer - very handy with updating the date taken metadata.
Duplicate Cleaner Pro - to deduplicate the file collection

If anyone has had any other ideas / questions, please post here for the rest us. thanks.

Insync Devs,

If you do want to make a Google Photos Sync mechanism that is works for us, you’ll need to have the following features"

  1. Photo Comments are merged into a Description / Title / Caption field in EXIF / XMP / IPTC metadata

  2. People’s names are converted into tags in EXIF / XMP / IPTC metadata

  3. Album names are converted into tags in EXIF / XMP / IPTC metadata

  4. (Nice) If there is no existing Date Taken (or Date Scanned/Acquired) EXIF / XMP / IPTC metadata, then where available, the date is extracted from the photo’s filename and written to the Date Taken EXIF / XMP / IPTC metadata,

Please note that I’ll pay for a Google Photos synchronisation software SEPARATE from InSync if we can get the pieces to work together.

Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for the input. We’ll looking into Google Photos once Insync 3 is out of beta :slight_smile:

Hopefully, the API limitations, won’t be as bad, but gauging from @Hawk’s input, it might not be the same seamless Google Photos > Google Drive > Insync workflow you’re used to.

We will try out best though!

Thanks for this Jinnah! Very insightful. I’ll be exploring the Google Photos API but can’t guarantee we’ll support it :slight_smile:

This was my main use for Insync. Has anyone found any work around for this?

I’ve been researching this extensively over the last month and a half, and I have not been able to find a workaround yet.

As far as I can tell there are NO online services which allow you to apply face recognition and to tag and date images and create albums and STILL allow you to download your images with this metadata contained in the image. I can only assume it’s more efficient to contain the photo metadata in a separate database, but it also means you’re (a) tied to the service and (b) unable to make backup copies of your photo collection that contain the metadata that you might have laboriously created over many years.

You can choose to rebuild your photo collection with locally created tags (as I’m currently doing). You’ll find that some online services will read your tags and some won’t and you’ll have to do a second set of work to rearrange your photos into albums once you put them on an online service.

So far Smugmug seems to be the only online photo management service that can read existing Exif tags in your photos, so it possible to quickly recreate albums etc once the photos are placed online. And it’s possible to search by these tags.

Google Photos doesn’t read the tags that would enable you to quickly recreate albums (though it does read the caption / description tag, for what that’s worth), so you’d definitely have to do a second set of work to get everything organised.

Which brings up the worst of the problems. What I’ve described so far isn’t synchronisation - it’s doing work locally and uploading the results to share with other people. It ISN’T a two way mechanism where you can work on your photos either online or on your own computer as is convenient. And this I have no solution for yet.


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A way for my Google Photos to get downloaded to my harddrive would be way enough for me. Please don’t confuse your requirements with that of others.

I haven’t found a good way to sync google photos to a local directory, if anyone knows a method to do this after google’s decision to stop the google photo - drive link, it would be very appreciated!


Hi everyone!

Thank you for your interest in having us sync Google Photos!

Our team has investigated the viability of being able to sync Google Photos with Insync. We’ve discovered certain API limitations that will prevent the same high quality integration you’re currently experiencing with Google Drive :cry:

With that, we have decided not to pursue syncing Google Photos for now. Don’t worry, we’ll still be open to doing so if their API has improved.

Thank you for your support :blue_heart:

Hi nikki, can you share what API limitations you refer to? There appears to be at least one solution here that I’ve found, but it may not include all the features you need (

The script in your linked article doesn’t do what most people want.
It copies photos from Google Photos to a backup folder in Google Drive, one-way only. There’s no sync. It also means that the same photo will take up at least twice the storage space in your Google account.
It’s merely an automation of “downloading photos from Google Photos + uploading photos to Google Drive”.

What Google originally did (and I believe what most people want) is to see the same photo both in Photos and in Drive, i.e. it’s more like a symlink/hard link and nothing like a copy. It shouldn’t take up twice the storage. If the photo was uploaded to Google Photos in “high quality” mode, it shouldn’t take up any storage at all (in Photos or in Drive). There’s simply no public API that can create or manipulate the link between Google Photos and Google Drive.

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