Online photo management is evolving quickly, and Google Photos is a great platform to store and manage a large collection of photos, whether you’re archiving travel photos or managing a collection of images and video files for an organization. The platform also has some great tools to help you find images that you’ve stored. While Google Photos has some limitations—for example, it doesn’t recognize keyword tagging—it has one powerful advantage over some more expensive photo storage solutions: AI.
With artificial intelligence, Google uses image recognition technology to search for things within the image. For example, “pizza” might help you find that slice of cheese and pepperoni you photographed three years ago.
Google Photos has some quirks, and while it’s not perfect, you’ll get more out of the platform if you know how the software handles searches. The best approach with Google Photos is often to try a few approaches to your search, as sometimes Google gets it wrong and misses that elusive slice of pizza.
Here’s a quick guide that may help improve your Google Photos search results.
You can search for images by the state the image was shot. You can enter a date in several formats in the search box in Google Photos.
- 25 May or 25 May 2018
- 1 jul 2021
- jul 1 2021
- july 1 2021
Not sure what day you took an image? You can also search Google Photos by month. You only need to enter the first three letters to search for a month (Jan, Feb, Mar, etc.).
You can also search by date range in Google Photos.
- 2015 to 2017
- Jun to Aug 2016
- Jan 26 2019 to April 17 2019
- Jan 26, 2019 to April 17, 2019
Time of day
Looking for an image you shot before breakfast? Or perhaps that picture of the moonrise? You can search Google Images by time of day.
Search Google Photos by seasons? You bet. The results are not always perfect but try searches by terms like spring, summer, fall, and winter.
Search by location to see photos geotagged to that specific destination.
Pick a color and search Google Photos for images where that color is dominant. Use “monochrome” for black & white.
You can also search Google Photos for a format of the image. This can help you find something like a video file.
If you want to find images in Google Photos that were shot on a particular camera type, try this:
- Apple (for iPhone)
You can also search Google Photos by camera model—Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Nikon D850, Apple iPhone 5c, etc.
You can search Google photos with action verbs.
Looking for those celebration pics on Google Photos? Google Photos evaluates scenes and guesses the event type:
The list of objects that Google Photos can find is enormous and continues to grow.
There are also many ways you can search for people in Google Photos.
- athlete (example: person in a race)
- bus driver
Names & faces
You can search for specific people in Google Photos by searching for names and faces. In the search page, click on faces in the row of circles to see images taken that feature that person. If you know who the person is and would like to assign a name to the model, click on a face and then in the results page click “Add a name.” The person will be tagged by name for future searches. (This also works for dogs.)
You can search Google Photos for words that are displayed prominently in the image.
Example: Searching for either “famous” or “for” or “pie” (or the phrase) could bring up images of a neon “Famous for pie” sign.
Search with minus sign
Sometimes, when you’re working with a large batch of images, less is more. You can limit results with the minus key (-). For example, a search for: Ben, Farley, -Fiona will result in finding photos found for Ben and Farley but only if Fiona is not indexed (not in the photo or album title or description). NOTE: make sure there is no space between the minus sign and the word you want to exclude. So, -Farley will work, but – Farley will not.
Search with combined values
Would you like to better target your search in Google Photos? You can combine two of the values mentioned above to create a more specific search term. For example, typing “Dog 2019” will show all pictures taken in 2019 with a dog in it. Entering “Fall road” will display all the images of fall with a path in it. If you want to search for people, enter the name, plus the year or month of the photo. A search for “party Chicago” will show results for parties tagged geographically to Chicago.