How to Export Your Images From Google Photos Using Takeout

Exporting all your photos and videos from Google Photos can be complicated and frustrating. Trying to export them directly from Google Photos is limited to 500 files at a time which can take a long time for large libraries. Thankfully, Google created a very neat tool to allow you to export your entire Google account at once. In this tutorial, we’ll focus on only exporting your pictures.

Downloading All Files From Google Photos

1. Google Takeout

Navigate to Google Takeout.

Export your photos from Google Takeout
Google Takeout allows you to download archives of your Google Account data.

2. Deselect All, and Select the Photos Archive Only

In Google Takeout, deselect all and select only Photos
Select only Google Photos to be included in your archive.

3. Download and Unzip Your Archive.

Download your Google Takeout Archive when it's ready
Download your Google Takeout Archive when it's ready.

It’s as simple as that!

Fixing Image EXIF Data

Each picture and video exported from Takeout will be accompanied by a metadata.json file containing all the EXIF data. That data contains the information about how the picture was shot, the time and place, the people in the frame, the device used to take the picture, etc. Google

Takeout strips all that information from your photos and puts them in those JSON files so it’s absolutely crucial that we merge that information back into the picture if we want them to keep their chronological order and correct information when importing elsewhere.

There are two ways to proceed from here.

Manual Way

  1. Install This will allow us to read and write EXIF data, specifically from the JSON to the image/video.
  2. Craft your command from Google Takeout’s JSON file data and names from here and Exiftool options here depending on what you want to copy.
Terminal using Exiftool to fix metadata
Using Terminal on MacOs to run Exiftool.

Automatic Way

Use Metadata Fixer to easily process all your photos and videos properly. The tool is already optimized for Google Takeout pictures and videos so you don’t have to figure out how to restore the exif metadata yourself. This will copy over the entire JSON document’s contents to the picture, sorting your images in the correct chronological order, restoring their time, date, timezone and more.

Metadata Fixer to fix exif data on pictures from Takeout
Metadata Fixer's interface to help you easily fix your pictures from Takeout.

Moving Library to iCloud

  1. Use on Mac to upload your pictures. Make sure to use the File > Import instead of dragging everything in the app, it works much better for large libraries.
  2. Everything should import well. If there are some pictures that show up at the wrong date, manually correct them with Image > Adjust Date and Time.

Taking Care of Your Existing Google Photos Library

  1. If you are keeping Google Photos as a secondary backup, there’s a couple of things to do. The Google Photos phone app will recognize all newly added pictures in your iCloud as new pictures and will start uploading them again as duplicates. I couldn’t find a way to prevent that so I let the Google Photos app upload the whole library again.
  2. Once all pictures are uploaded to Google Photos, navigate to where pictures will be sorted by Upload Time. Select all newly added pictures and delete them. Google Photos will not re-upload the deleted duplicates. It will continue uploading new pictures you take on your phone in the future as usual.