How To Use Google Photos, The Shockingly Intuitive New Way To Manage Every Photo You've Ever Taken

If, like me, you're a compulsive picture-taker, you've probably wanted to pull your hair out trying to manage the thousands of snaps in your library, but luckily your troubles may be over. At its I/O developer conference last Thursday, Google announced a revamped version of its photo-sharing service, Google Photos. The service, which is live, comes with new and improved features that make managing your photo library easier than ever. If you're thinking of trying it out, here's a comprehensive guide on how to use Google Photos to store, edit, and organize your photos, whether you have an Android, an iPhone, or another kind of cell phone.

Google+ users might already be familiar with the photo-hosting service, but now Google Photos is available to everyone, whether or not they have a Google account or a Google phone. Perhaps the biggest draw of the new and improved service is that it allows users to upload unlimited photos and videos for free. If you're OK with Google using its algorithm to compress photos larger than 16 megapixels and videos larger than 1080p HD when storing, then you can back up your entire life at no monthly cost. However, if you're a photographer or prefer to maintain the high resolution of certain photos, then you can opt out of the free unlimited plan and any pics and videos you have that exceed the limits will count against your 15GB of available Google Drive storage.

Besides this main draw, Google Photos offers various features that truly make photo management a cinch.

Automatic Organization

For the busy (or lazy), Google Photos takes all of the organization work off your hands and automatically assembles your photos into "collections" by date or location, which is determined by automatic geotagging. The service will group photos together that were taken in the same time frame and label where they were taken, but you can add or edit anything that's inaccurate or incomplete. You can then share these collections with friends along with your captions.

A New And Practical Way To Search Photos

One of the most attractive features of Google Photos is its search bar. Instead of having to search for specific terms from file names, all you have to do is describe the photo. For example, typing in "dog" will bring up all your pictures of dogs and typing in "food" will turn your search results into a food blog, or even something as vague as "people" will bring up shots of individual people. This eliminates the need to tag photos first or organize them into albums in order to search by the content.

Add Effects And Make GIFs With 'Auto Awesome'

Photo hosting probably shouldn't be all business. With its Auto Awesome feature, Google Photos can add effects, like animated falling snow, to your photos, make a panoramic by stitching together three or more slightly overlapping shots of the same view, erase moving objects in the background of four or more successive shots (like tourists walking by), combine two or more photos of the same group of people so that everyone looks their best (smiling with their eyes open), create a GIF of five more more successive shots of something moving (like a skateboard trick), and create a photobooth-style grid of three or more shots of someone with the same background.

Share With Anyone You Want

Prior to its upgrade, when Google Photos was still linked to Google+, users could only share their photos with people in their Google+ Circles or by inviting friends to join the service. Now you can share your photos using direct links to anyone you want, as well as share them directly on other social sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Images: Google/YouTube, Google Official Blog, Google Photos