Google Photos (previously Google+) automatically backs up your photos from your phone to your Google+ / Google Photos account.

They give you the option to backup a compressed version which is unlimited and free, or you can backup at full original quality but it uses up your Google Drive storage quota.

I have always believed I have had this setting turned off, but I noticed I am using 8GB of my Drive quota due to Google Photos. Which makes me think it had been backing up the full versions for some time previously - Right now the option is set to the free compressed version.

(I am assuming the 8GB is due to the original uncompressed option being turned on at some point? Unless theres another thing that would use up this space?)

Is there a way to identify and remove all of the high resolution photos from my Drive / the Photos that are using my Drive storage, but still keeping scaled / free version of the photo.

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I have just noticed you can choose an option to show a Google Photos folder in your drive of your Google Photos. I have just done this hoping I could somehow filter by size or quota used but this doesn't seem possible.

I just want to try and identify what is using the 8GB

  • 1
    I wish I could add to a pre-existing bounty. I would add another 100 rep Oct 16, 2015 at 19:25

4 Answers 4


I have just found the real correct way to combat this problem. There is no actual way you can easily see which photos are "original" quality vs "high".

Google provide a slightly hidden feature to convert all your "original" photos to "high".

On Google Photo Settings Page @ https://photos.google.com/settings Click Recover Storage button to Compress Original Size Pictures!

  • This saved my lots of time and google space :) I was looking for this answer since long... :D thanks !! May 23, 2017 at 17:50

Use the Sort options available to sort images by size, you'll be able to see what images are taking up the most space - You then can make a judgement if to delete it.

  • The better quality an image the bigger it's size, thus the bigger images are the high res-images you wanted to delete for the space.The high resolution images will be bigger in size compared to the compressed ones, thus when you sort the image by size (Descending - From Biggest to Smallest). The high res-images will be at the top.

How to Sort - Computer, Android and iOS

Google Drive on the web using the Computer:

  1. Go to Google Drive - On the Web

  2. In the top right, click the sort icon .

  3. Choose an option:

    • Name: Orders files alphabetically by filename.

    • Last modified: Orders files by the last time any user made a change.

    • Last modified by me: Orders by the last time you changed a file.

    • Last opened by me: Orders by the last time you opened a file.

    • On a home screen, you can also sort by file owner. At the top of the file list, click Owned by anyone and switch to either Owned by me or Not owned by me.

Advantages: No Need to Download any files, thus saving Data

Google Drive Installed on Computer:

  1. Download and Install Google Drive Installer on to your computer.
  2. Download Your Google Drives Photo Folder Download Folders
  3. Open Your Photos Folder Photos
  4. Click on the top of the tab that says size Filter
  5. Delete Unnecessary Photos but leave the rest

    Side note: Even though you get free space to store images on google drive the size is still shown.

Advantages: You wont need to re-upload the photos again as this way they will be removed from the google drive folder

Disadvantages: You'll Still need to download the Photos to sort (But wont need to re-uploaded them as the deleted ones just get removed from the drive)

Google Drive on Android:

  1. Open the Drive, Docs, Sheets, or Slides app.
  2. In the top-right corner of any section or folder of the app, touch the More icon.
  3. Select Sort by and choose the way you’d like to arrange your list of files (for example, by “Last modified”).

You can also sort files after you have performed a search to sort only the files from that search.

Advantages: No Need to Download any files - Except the google play app, thus saving Data

Google Drive on iOS:

  1. Open the Drive, Docs, Sheets, or Slides app.
  2. Next to the search box in your file list, touch Sort.
  3. From the sorting list, touch the option you want to use.
  4. The files will be sorted. Repeat the process to sort the views differently.

You can also sort files after you have performed a search to sort only the files from that search.

Advantages: No Need to Download any files - Except the Iphone app, thus saving Data

  • '''Delete Unnecessary Photos but leave the rest''' How do I know what ones to delete? They are ALL going to have a size? Its not like the free ones are going to show 0KB on my computer? Oct 12, 2015 at 22:20
  • @binarysmacker Can you try out my answer and tell me if it worked. As sorting out the files largest to smallest you can effectively delete all the big files (in your case the high-res images) and thus save drive space
    – Matt07211
    Oct 18, 2015 at 2:02

I came across the same problem yesterday. My solution is to download all the photos to my PC, delete them from the cloud, set the backup option of Google Photos to 'High quality' and then download them to the phone. From there they will be backupped with the correct size to use free storage. Of course this may be lengthy if you have 8 GB of photos. Sadly I couldn't think of any other option, because Google Drive or Photos won't allow to sort my files by size as was once possible.

EDIT: with the new update of Google Photos, the possibility to resize all photos to 'high quality' is now built in. Open the web interface from your computer -> settings -> recover storage: it is as simple as that. Here the guide.

  • How can I download all photos? I have several years worth. :/ Oct 12, 2015 at 10:13
  • The best way is to do it from your PC, I guess. You download all the photos to your hard drive, delete them from the cloud and then upload them once again using the Internet interface for Google photos. This way, if the option 'high quality' is checked, the photos shouldn't take up your cloud space. It will take a while, depends on your Internet connection, but as hard as I try, this seems the only solution.
    – user127476
    Oct 12, 2015 at 13:20
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    The easiest way to download all photos at once is with Google Takeout, Google's account data export tool. Quite handy.
    – Mr. Buster
    Oct 12, 2015 at 16:48
  • 1
    @Mr.Buster wow that's a great tool! Thank you! Oct 12, 2015 at 21:22

I found a great solution.

On Google Drive app settings there is a option to compress storage. It compresses you files from full size to high resolution using your free space on photos.

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