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Transferring photos from iCloud to Google Photos is finally possible. Here's how

Apple built a tool that will automatically transfer all of your pictures and videos from iCloud to Google.

Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
3 min read

Tired of iCloud Photos? You can ditch it for Google Photos with ease. 

James Phelan

If you have a lot of photos and videos stored in any cloud service, be it iCloud or Google Photos, it's easy to feel sort of stuck with that platform. Downloading lots of gigabytes of your precious memories and then uploading them to another service takes a lot of time, not to mention data if your internet service provider has a data cap. 

Read more: Google Photos is ending unlimited free storage. Here's what to do about it

There's good news for iCloud Photos users who want to make the switch to Google Photos: Apple now has a free tool that makes it easy to transfer your photos and videos. 

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Even if you're not making the switch from iPhone to Android, you can use Apple's new tool to make a backup of your iCloud Photos library. Below I'll walk you through the requirements and the steps you'll need to follow. 

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Let's take a quick look at the requirements

While the transfer tool is easy to use, taking just a few clicks of the mouse to begin the process, there are some things you'll need to be aware of before you start the transition. 

The requirements list on the Apple support page notes that in addition to using iCloud Photos to store your pictures and videos, your Apple ID will need to have two-factor authentication turned on. Additionally, you'll want to make sure your Google account has enough storage to handle the transfer. 


The new transfer tool is part of Apple's privacy site. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Start a transfer of your iCloud Photos to Google Photos

The best part about the way Apple built its transfer tool is that you don't have to download all of your photos and videos, and then upload them to Google Photos separately. Instead, Apple takes care of the transfer after you connect your Apple ID and Google account. 

To start the transfer, you'll need to visit privacy.apple.com and sign in to the Apple ID linked to your iCloud Photos account. Next, click on Request to transfer a copy of your data under the Transfer a copy of your data section. 

Click the drop-down menu and pick Google Photos, and then click the two checkboxes that are displayed, one for photos, another for videos. Click Continue. Google Photos is the only option available right now, but it sure feels like this tool was built with the intention of adding more services. 

Apple will show you how much storage your photo library will use, and remind you to check your Google account and make sure you have enough space. If you don't have enough room, the transfer will stop and not everything will be copied over. Click Continue after you've checked your Google account's storage amount. 


Really, it's this easy. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

That said, Google Photos does allow you to keep an unlimited amount of photos and videos as long as you select "high quality" and not original; however, there isn't an option to select the quality in Apple's tool. Starting June 1, any new photos and videos uploaded to Google will count against your storage plan. You can sign in to Google Drive to see how much storage you have, and I'd also recommend signing in to your Google Photos account and checking your settings to see what quality your photos are being stored as. 

A pop-up window will ask you to sign in to your Google account and grant Apple access to your Google Photos library. Follow the prompts. 

When you're done, the transfer will begin. According to Apple, the process will take three to seven days to complete. When Apple has completed the transfer, you'll receive an email letting you know it's done. 

While it's not the quickest process, it is by far the easiest and most trustworthy tool I've seen. For someone who's jumped ship to Android, leaving the iPhone behind, what more can you ask for? Remember, Google is getting rid of free unlimited storage starting June 1, 2021, but photos or videos you transfer before that date won't count against the cap.