Viewing a Google Photos Album

I keep my website photos in Google Photos. Here's a sample album (Hurricane Matthew washout of Rogers Rd.) you can experiment with while going thru the information below. The album should open in a separate tab so you can easily switch between it and the instructions below.

Grid Mode and Single-Photo Mode

When you first open a Google Photos album, you will probably see a grid of small photos, which you can scroll thru.

To switch to a larger view of a photo, just click on it. It may blur for a short time as all the bits download, but then will become clear. You can exit this single-photo mode and go back to grid mode by clicking the small arrow at the upper left part of the photo area. This is the arrow within the window, not the left arrow your browser may display for going "Back" a page.

You might want to download a photo (i.e., save a copy on your PC) instead of just viewing it in Google Photos. To download a photo, select the photo by clicking on it, then press Shift+D. The high-resolution version of the photo will download. Depending on the speed of your internet connection, this might take a few seconds.

Viewing Comments and Other Information

While in single-photo mode, you may see some abbreviated comments at the bottom of the picture. Unfortunately they are not always visible and may be truncated from the full comments. Full comments and other information about the photo are displayed in a sidebar to the right of the photo. If this sidebar is not displayed, click on the comments (if displayed) at the bottom of the picture or click on the small circle-i icon at the top right of the window. That shrinks the photo to make room for the sidebar, then displays it. The untruncated comments are at the top of the sidebar. Below that is information about when the picture was taken, the camera used, and possibly the location in a clickable map (if I used my iPhone to take the picture). Clicking the circle-i icon again or the X at the top of the sidebar will close the sidebar and expand the picture again.

Navigation thru the Album

While in single-photo mode, to go forward to the next photo or back to the previous one, click the arrows on the right and left sides of the photo. These are probably not visible. Just move your mouse cursor near the right or left edge, about midway down from the top of the picture and the arrow will light up as you near that area. To go thru the album faster, switch back to grid mode using the top-left arrow described above, and scroll to the area of interest, then click a photo to go back to single-photo mode again.

Making the Photo Even Larger

To make the picture larger while in single-photo mode, you can maximize your browser window, e.g., by double-clicking on the title bar. Double-clicking the title bar again puts the window back to its restore size, i.e., the size between maximized and minimized that it was in before it was maximized. This title-bar-double-clicking is just a standard Windows facility, not unique to Google Photos. Also, when a window is in its restore size, you can change the size of the displayed photo by dragging the edges of the window to increase/reduce the window size.

While in single-photo mode, you can even magnify specific parts of the photo (zoom in) by clicking on the photo and turning your mouse's scroll wheel. An inset at the top shows where your magnification is focused and can also be used to zoom in or out. You can also go into this mode by clicking the magnifying-glass icon at the top of the window. While in this mode, you can drag the magnified picture around by holding the left mouse button down as you move the cursor to shift the picture around in the window.


You will see the contents of some of the photos move when you hover over them in grid mode. When you click on one of those, a movie will play. It may take a short time to download before starting. The movies have audio, so have your speakers on. There are some sound and location controls at the bottom of the window.

There aren't any movies in the Hurricane Matthew sample album you probably have been viewing, but there are some good hummingbird movies at the very end of my Heritage Animals album. Keep in mind they take a little time to download and they play in full only in single-photo mode (click on the moving photo).