I decided to try out Google's "Photos" sync, which can be enabled under account settings. After the sync finished, I did a factory reset on the device and let it restore the photos. It apparently did - they are viewable through the Google "Photos" app.

However, I can't find the files anywhere. Originally they were split into two files: DCIM/Camera and DCIM/Test. Now, DCIM is empty and, when viewing the entire set of thumbnails, it tells me there are no "Collections".

I most certainly expected it to restore the photos in the same structure as they were originally. Not only are the two subdirectories gone, I can't even find the png files. What am I not understanding?

I did this on a Moto G, running Android 6.0

1 Answer 1


From the photos app, you can't recover onto your device. You can only view them , the restore option is a misnomer as it does not really restore to your device:

From Google help, where a similar question is answered. This thread is recent and makes it clear that there is no way one can directly restore photos using the app. Options are:

  • Use the Google Drive app to select and download the photos. Using a file manager, copy the photos in downloads to the directory you wish to (see Nicholas post of 11 Jun)

  • From the Photos app, select and download ( of course, you will need to move them using a file manager - Krissy post of Jan 01)

  • Use a PC to download from drive and move into desired folders or use third party apps that can facilitate downloading from the photos app

  • Thanks, and yes I'm aware of this technique. I've been doing it for years. Are you saying, then, there is no automatic backup and restore of photos unless you use google+ or dropbox, etc.? Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 4:41
  • Yes. Unfortunately, there is none as you can see in the linked Google forum post, the last entry being of September. Apps may help you bridge those gap as mentioned there. In summary, when Google didn't offer a way, I am afraid there is nothing else. It is a shame that you can't directly restore
    – beeshyams
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 5:12
  • 1
    Thanks. I think I'm starting to believe this. Seems rather lame that Google provided a half-implemented solution: the photos do get uploaded and you can view them through "Photos" afterward but you can't get them back on your phone. And they have the gall to call it "backup" rather than "upload". Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 20:30

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