Apple quietly surprised everyone and has introduced an easy way to finally transfer your photos from iCloud to Google Photos. Previously, you could download Google Photos and have everything synced from there, but it wouldn’t always sync those older files. But that doesn’t work if you’ve upgraded to something like the Galaxy S21, leaving your iPhone in the dust.
Instead, this new tool allows you to sign in to your Google Photos account of choice and transfer just about everything over. This includes those Live Photos, videos, and your entire photo library. The only catch here is that you’ll need to make sure that your Google account has enough storage to house your iCloud Photo Library.
Should you transfer iCloud Photos to Google Photos?
This is a moot point if you’ve already moved from an iPhone and into the Android world. But the truth is that we would recommend that everyone transfers the library from iCloud to Google. The reason for this is because it never (ever) hurts to have redundant backups in the event of something going crazy.
If you’ve been a devout iPhone user for years and years, then you might find yourself having a rather large library. This could result in having to pay Google a little bit every month in order to provide a backup for your library. For reference, here is the pricing for Google One:
- 100GB – $1.99 / month
- 200GB – $2.99 / month or $29.99 / year
- 2TB – $9.99 / month or $99.99 / year
- 10TB – $49.99 / month
This is a little bit more than what you’ll pay with Apple. However, it’s well worth having a backup of your most precious moments.
What’s needed before you transfer
As you might expect, there are a few pre-requisites that need to be filled before you can transfer iCloud Photos to Google Photos. Apple lays out the requisites in clear sight, so you won’t have to worry about trying to find something hidden.
- 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.
If you check all of these boxes, then you can skip the next section and begin the transfer process.
How to set up two-factor authentication
There’s a reason why we’re highlighting the steps to set up two-factor authentication (2FA) on your Apple account. This is something that every iOS, Android, Mac, or Windows user should be using on your accounts. Here’s how you can set it up from your iPhone:
- Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
- Tap your name at the top.
- Select Password & Security.
- Tap Turn On Two-Factor Authentication.
- Tap Continue.
- Enter the phone number where verification codes are to be sent.
- Tap Next.
- Enter the received verification code to confirm your phone number.
After completed, it’s time to get the transfer started.
How to transfer iCloud Photos to Google Photos
So you’ve already followed all the steps and are ready to transfer iCloud Photos to Google Photos. The process is a bit lengthy, but it’s actually pretty straight-forward and easy to follow. Here are the steps you need to take in order to transfer iCloud Photos to Google Photos:
- Open your browser of choice.
- Navigate to privacy.apple.com.
- Sign in with the Apple ID that you want to transfer Photos from.
- Under Manage your data, select Request to transfer a copy of your data.
- Under Choose where you’d like to transfer your photos, click the dropdown.
- Select Google Photos.
- Choose what you would like to transfer:
- Click Continue.
- Apple shows a warning here, stating that your Google account must have a certain amount of data available. This amount varies depending on how much data is being housed by iCloud Photos.
- Click Continue.
- Sign in to the Google account you want to transfer the photos and videos to.
- Grant Apple permission to add items to your Google Photos library by clicking Allow.
- Click Allow again after reading what you are allowing Apple to do with your Google account.
- Confirm the transfers for your photos and videos by clicking the Confirm Transfers button.
Since you aren’t actually downloading the files yourself, this means that Apple is initiating the transfer process. After completing the steps above, Apple states that the “process will take between three and seven days”. After the process is finished, an email will be sent to your Apple ID.
What files are supported when attempting to transfer iCloud Photos to Google Photos?
For the most part, you won’t end up having any issues with missing files after the transfer has completed. Apple shares which files are compatible, so even if you’ve downloaded odd file formats, chances are, they’ll still arrive in Google Photos.
- The transfer includes copies of photos and videos that you store in iCloud Photos, associated with your Apple ID. Formats include: .jpg, .png, .webp, .gif, some RAW files, .mpg, .mod, .mmv, .tod, .wmv, .asf, .avi, .divx, .mov, .m4v, .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .m2t, .m2ts, .mts, and .mkv files.
- Only the most recent edit of the photo is transferred and not the original version. Duplicates appear as just one photo.
- Whenever possible, photos are transferred with their albums. Videos are transferred separately, without their albums.
- Once transferred to Google, the filenames of albums and videos start with “Copy of.”
- Some content—including shared albums, smart albums, photo stream content, live photos, some metadata, and photos and videos stored in other folders or locations—is not transferred at all.
Will my iCloud Photos remain after the transfer?
One big question you may have is “what will happen to my iCloud Photos Library?” There’s always a suspicion that your data could be deleted since you’re transferring the content. However, there are no issues there, as your entire iCloud Photo Library will be kept intact.
Even after receiving the email confirmation from Apple, you can fire up your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, and browse your library like normal. This just provides a relatively quick and painless method for transferring your files and documents. When going through the transfer process, we would recommend making a note of how many files are being transferred. That way, you can try to see what’s missing (if anything) after the transfer has completed.
This may not seem like a big deal to some, but for others, being able to transfer your entire library from iCloud to Google Photos is a relief. As someone who consistently switches between both Android and iOS, it’s great having access to my iCloud Photos from whatever device I’m using.
Have you followed the steps to transfer iCloud Photos to Google Photos? Let us know in the comments below.
Andrew is a freelance writer based on the East Coast of the US.
He has written for a variety of sites over the years, including iMore, Android Central, Phandroid, and a few others. Now, he spends his days working for an HVAC company, while moonlighting as a freelance writer at night.