Tech Q&A: Photo sharing is complicated by privacy issues

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Q: I use an online Google Photos account to back up the pictures on my Android phone. Our desktop PC also has access to the account. But when I recently set up my wife’s iPhone to back up its photos to the same account, I ran into trouble. My phone and the PC show that the Google Photos account contains only my photos. But when my wife accesses the account with her iPhone, she sees both my pictures and hers. What’s wrong?

—Gary Thompson, Excelsior, Minn.

A: Your wife’s iPhone isn’t uploading pictures to the joint Google Photos account, even though it may appear to be doing so.

The reason is that you haven’t completed all the necessary steps to share photos. To protect personal privacy, Google has deliberately made it difficult for a person to share an online Photos account with someone else. Just giving your wife’s iPhone access to your account isn’t enough. Here are the steps to share photos:

— Use the “sharing tab” of Google Photos to create a “shared library” or “partner account” (see Google provides three sharing alternatives: Share all existing and new photos in your account; share only photos of certain people (as determined by facial recognition software); or share only photos taken after a certain date.

— Google Photos will then “invite” your wife to share your online account, provided that she has a Google account of her own. Google will send the invitation to her Google account, or, if she has the Google Photos app on her iPhone, to the sharing tab of the app.

— Your wife should “accept” your invitation. Now you might think that you are finished. But all you have done is share your online photos with her. She isn’t sharing photos with you yet. (From your wife’s perspective, this problem won’t seem to exist. Her Google Photos app will display both your online photos and her iPhone photos, making appear that both are being shared online.)

— To actually share her photos with you, your wife must click the “share back” option in the app (see The photos she shared should now appear in the app’s “sharing tab,” and your Android phone and PC should be able to see your wife’s photos in your account.

Q: I recently switched to Windows 10, and I find it difficult to copy photos from my camera to the PC, and from there to a flash drive. The camera pictures go into a Windows 10 folder called Photos, but I can’t copy them from Photos to a flash drive. What should I do?

—Martha Harrington, Willoughby, Ohio

A: “Photos” is a Windows 10 app for displaying pictures, not a storage folder. It displays photos stored in a Windows folder called “Pictures.”

To find the Pictures folder, open File Explorer (it used to be called Windows Explorer.) On the left side of the screen you will see a heading called “This PC” with an arrow beside it.

Left-click the arrow and several subheadings will appear, including “Pictures.”

To copy the contents of Pictures, right-click it, and from the resulting menu choose “copy.”

Then open your flash drive in File Explorer and “paste” the Pictures folder there. Or, you can double-click Pictures to open it, then copy only the photos you want.



Steve Alexander covers technology for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Readers may write to him at Tech Q&A, 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minn. 55488-0002; email: Please include a full name, city and phone number.


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