On June 1, 2021, the day arrived: Google Photos storage was no longer free and unlimited by choosing a reduced quality. Every photo and video saved in Google Photos since then is deducted from storage, and sooner or later the 15GB that Google gives away for free will eventually fill up.

For me, that moment started to happen a few weeks ago, when Google apps started warning me that my storage was almost full, with a warning icon on my account photo and notifications in almost all Google apps. The solution hasn’t been to pay, at least for now, but to do a thorough cleaning.

Rescuing wasted space

In my case, my Google account has 19 GB of free space, after collecting the precious extra 2 GB to do the security review for two years, back when Google was still giving things away for life. Among them, more than 17 GB had been filled, that is, 90% of the space was occupied.

The good news is that much of this space was reclaimable, and the only reason it was still occupied was because of laziness in not cleaning up properly or as a holdover from the old days, when storage n Wasn’t lost “as quickly” as now, photo by photo. That’s what I did to recover about 10 GB.

First, delete large photos and videos

The only change there has been in Google storage is in Google Photos. In the past, reduced quality photos and videos didn’t take up space, but since June last year, all photos and videos are discounted. Therefore, I hope the best way to alleviate the space filling up is to clean up Google Photos.

Photos that were in Google Photos before June 1, 2021 don’t take up space, but all subsequent photos do. Doing a thorough manual cleaning of Google Photos would be a huge job. A more efficient way to quickly free up space is to find large photos and videos and, if they are consumable, delete them from Google Photos.

You can do this from the Google Photos app itself. Tap your profile picture > Photo settings > Backup & sync and tap Manage storage. At the top are large photos and videos, which you can review and delete later. In my case, I had long videos that didn’t need to be deleted, so I was able to salvage a few hundred MB. It wasn’t much, but it all helps.

Blurry photos and screenshots? No thanks

From the same previous section, you can find other items that might be worth removing. This is the case with screenshots, images from other apps, and blurry photos.

In my case, I stopped including app screenshots and photos in the copy of Google Photos a long time ago, so saving those sections was almost zero. One important thing is to always check what gets deleted, because screenshots aren’t necessarily screenshots, but images that Google Photos considers screenshots (and which they may not always be) .

Convert everything to “savings” quality

I’ve always had my Google Photos backup set to reduced quality, or as it’s called now, Storage Saver. However, Google sometimes seems to get confused with the question, and it never hurts to check that the setting stays that way. For example, I discovered that my new mobile was copying the original quality, thus taking up much more storage space than strictly necessary.

The good news is that there is an easy solution, although you must use the Google Photos website, as this is not possible from the app. You will need to open this link and tap Reclaim Space. What it will do is compress photos and videos to their original quality so they take up less space. This saved me some precious extra GBs of space.

No more using Drive as storage space

Gone are the days when I didn’t have to worry about how many photos or videos took up Google’s shared storage, and the free space was more or less stable. Yes, it was still downgraded daily by Gmail emails, but emails usually don’t take up too much space.

When I had a lot of free space, I kept many folders in Drive as a backup and to always have them close at hand. Now is the time to store them locally and leave Drive for the basics.

A few years ago, with so much free Google storage space, I made the decision to include several large folders and documents in Google Drive, to always have them at hand on any PC at all times. moment. Today, it’s time to tighten my belt and reduce the amount of stuff I store in Google Drive “just in case”.

I switched to saving most of these files locally on my PC, freeing up an insane amount of space. In this case, I’ve done an exhaustive review, but if you don’t have much time, you can find the files that take up your Google Drive the most from this link.

Gmail deep cleaning

It’s much easier to find the most used emails with a client like Thunderbird

If you’re one of those people who keeps the inbox clean, you can probably skip this step, but if not, it’s recommended to clean up Gmail to free up space. As we mentioned earlier, most emails barely take up space, but you can have a good collection of large emails hidden away in your Gmail.

The problem is that neither the app nor the Gmail website lets you clean up mail very easily. From this website, Google shows you emails with large attachments, but it’s a bit confusing. It is easier to configure Gmail in Thunderbird or similar mail clients, on a PC, to be able to sort emails by size and select and delete them much more quickly and comfortably. It takes time, yes, but it is worth it.

It’s time to take out the trash

After so much cleaning, many deleted files end up in the various bins of Gmail, Drive and Photos. It’s a good resource in case you’ve accidentally deleted something, but if you’re sure everything deleted is worth deleting, you can empty the recycle bins instead of waiting 30 or 60 days for each file is deleted automatically.

You can do this manually in each app, but you have them all at your fingertips with the quick access on the Google Storage management page, in the Deleted Items section. Again, make sure what you delete is worth deleting, because you won’t have any way to get it back otherwise.

Lots of work and 10 GB freed up

After completing all of the above tasks, I went from 17GB busy to 7GB, freeing up 10GB. Yeah, I have to admit it wasn’t for nothing: I wasted a few hours on the whole thing.

The less than 12GB of free storage I have right now won’t last me forever (according to Google, it will last me about a year), and even if I clean again, there will inevitably come a time when nothing can be done. It will probably be my turn to checkout, but later that time will come…the less I have paid, the more time I will have to consider whether to use an alternative.