Android 101: Download or share a Google Photos album

One thing Google really wants you to do is, well, stay in Google — because the more you do things the Google way, the more data the company can earn. As a result, while it’s possible to get your emails, photos, and other material outside of the Googleverse, it’s just that little bit more difficult.

For example, let’s say you want to show your favorite grandparent an album of family photos stored on Google Photos. If they’re reasonably Google proficient, that’s no problem at all – you just share the album with them.

Share a photo album on the web

  • Click on “Albums” in the left menu.
  • Move the cursor over the album you want to share and click on the three dots.
  • Click on “Share Album”.

All you need to do is click “Share Album”.

Another way to go:

  • Click on “Albums” in the left menu.
  • Select the album you want to share.
  • Click the “Share” icon in the top right corner.

Share an album with the Photos mobile app

  • Tap “Library” at the bottom of the screen.
  • Select the album you want to share.
  • Select ‘Share’.

However, suppose your grandparents want to download copies of the photos to email to a friend or upload to a non-Google app. Then it gets a little more complicated.

Download a photo album from the web

Actually, complicated maybe the wrong word. It’s not hard to download an album; you just need to know where to look.

  • Click on “Albums” in the left menu.
  • Open the album you want to share by clicking on the album in the main area or by selecting the album name in the left column
  • Click on the three dots in the top right corner and select ‘Download all’.
  • Google will then download a zip file containing the photos from your album.

google photos download album

It is not difficult to download albums from the Internet.

You can also download multiple albums (or all of your albums) using Google Takeout, which allows you to export data stored in your Google account:

  • Go to the “Download your data” page of your account.
  • Click “Deselect All” (because this page will automatically check off any Google service you use).
  • Go to Google Photos and select it by clicking the checkbox.
  • Click the button that says ‘All photo albums included’. Click “Deselect All” again and then check the boxes of the albums you do want to download. (Of course, if you want to download all your albums, leave it as it is.)
  • Click “Multiple Formats” for information on how your photos will be downloaded. For example, the actual photos are downloaded in the same format they were uploaded in, while metadata is downloaded as JSON files.
  • Scroll down and click “Next step”.
  • You can then choose how you want to receive your albums. You can receive the file via an email link or have it sent to Dropbox, Drive, OneDrive or Box. You can also choose whether you want this to be a one-time download, whether you want it as a ZIP or TGZ file and what the maximum size of the file should be.
  • Click on “Create export”. Keep in mind that it may take a while to receive your export – according to Google it could take hours or days (although I tried it with a single album, it took about a minute).
  • You will receive an email informing you of the successful download and offering you a link to download your files, or if you choose to send them to a cloud storage service, where they were sent.

Download an album with the Photos mobile app

The answer to this is very simple: you can’t. However, there are a number of solutions that you can use. For example, you can use Google Takeout with your mobile device’s browser and follow the steps above. You can also share the photos in the album via email or Google Drive and then download them. This second method is pretty clunky, but it works.

This is how you share via email or Drive. (The photos shown are of a Pixel 3 XL running Android 12 beta, but the process should be the same for most Android phones and iPhones.)

  1. In the Photos app, select “Library” at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Look for the “Albums” heading, then tap the album you want to download.
  3. Press and hold the first photo until you see a check mark in the box in the top left corner of the photo. Then drag your finger down until all photos in the album are checked.
  4. Tap the “share” icon in the top right corner of the screen.
  5. From here you can email the photos to yourself (an oldie but goodie) or save them to your favorite online storage service and download them there.

You can find your albums through the “Library” tab.

After checking the photos you want, you can share them as you like.

After checking the photos you want, you can share them as you like.

As more people use their phones instead of laptops or other larger systems, the inability to perform certain tasks on a mobile device — downloading an album, for example — is going to become irritating to say the least. Hopefully, Google will take note.

Update August 30, 2021, 11:50 AM ET: This article was originally published on June 4, 2019 and has been updated to reflect changes to the Google Photos interface.