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How to select all photos in Google Photos – download everything at once!

Google Photos
(Image credit: Google)

Ever wondered how to select all photos in Google Photos, or how to download all photos from Google Photos at once? You're not alone! 

Whether you use your phone or your computer to backup your images and videos, it isn't always made explicitly clear how to select all photos in Google Photos. If you're lucky you'll get a brief (and not entirely clear) explainer that pops up when you first load the site or app, but after that you're on your own. 

• Looking for the best cloud storage for photos? Look no further! (opens in new tab)

Which is less than ideal, if for instance you've just backed up your old phone and you want to know how to download all photos from Google Photos on your new one! Thankfully, the process is pretty simple and painless. 

How to select all photos in Google Photos

Here is how to select everything at once, so you can grab everything in one go, rather than having to individually tap or click every single file.

The process, in principle, is exactly the same on a smartphone or a computer – the difference, obviously, is the interface, with prolonged fingertip presses and touchscreen scrolling replacing prolonged mouse clicks and screen dragging.

Word of warning: it's easy to forget both how many files you've got in the cloud, and how big some of those files are (especially if you've got a lot of 4K video!). So before you start downloading everything, make sure that you've got plenty of storage on your device.

Using a computer

(Image credit: James Artaius)

1) Go to www.photos.google.com (opens in new tab)

Open Google Photos in your browser, whereupon you will be presented with all your images. If this is your first time visiting or selecting a file, Google might be polite enough to tell you, "Hold Shift and click to select several items at once". 

The process really is as simple as that! Hover your mouse over the first file thumbnail and a hollow circular tick / check icon will appear in the top-left of it. Hold the Shift key and click this icon. The icon will turn blue, and the thumbnail will shrink and be surrounded with a blue box.

(Image credit: James Artaius)

2) Shift, scroll, select

With the Shift key depressed, scroll all the way to the bottom of your files (you can do this by rolling the scroll wheel on your mouse, clicking and dragging the scroll bar down on the right-hand side of the screen, or by holding the down arrow or Page Down button on the keyboard until you reach the bottom). 

Once you're all the way at the end of your list of files, with the Shift key still depressed, click the very last file. Every file in your main folder will now have a blue tick and blue box around it. Presto, all your files are selected! Now simply click the icon with the three dots at the top-right of the screen

Using a phone

(Image credit: James Artaius)

1) Open Google Photos app

With the app downloaded, open Google Photos and the master folder of all your files will be presented. As with the computer process, if you tap and hold your finger on the first file, a blue tick / check will appear and indicate that it has been selected.

(Image credit: James Artaius)

2) Hold and drag

Keeping your finger "held down", drag it to the bottom of the screen; as your device scrolls down, it will select every file it passes. Once you've reached the last file, release your finger and all your files will have a blue tick / check on them. At the bottom of the screen, tap "Share" and you will have the option to save the files to your device (the exact process will vary depending on your phone and OS). 

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James Artaius
James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.