Google Photos is the latest “Unlimited” plan to impose hard limits
November 12, 2020
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Screenshot of user interface for Google Photos.
Enlarge / Google is no longer offering unlimited photo storage—except to Pixel users, that is.


Today, Google Photos VP Shimrit Ben-Yair announced the end of Google Photos’ unlimited photo storage policy. The plan already came with significant caveats—unlimited storage was for the tier Google deems “High Quality,” which includes compressed media only, capped at 16 megapixels for photos and 1080p for videos. Uncompressed or higher-resolution photos and videos saved in original quality count against the 15GiB cap for the user’s Google Drive account.

As of June 2021, High Quality photos and videos will also begin counting against a user’s Google Drive storage capacity. That said, if you’ve already got a terabyte of High Quality photos and videos stored in Photos, don’t panic—the policy change affects new photos and videos created or stored after June 2021 only. Media that’s already saved to Google Photos is grandfathered in and will not be affected by the new policy change.

Original Quality—again, meaning either uncompressed or resolution over 16mp still / 1080p video—is also unaffected, since those files were already subject to the user’s Google Drive quota. Any additional capacity purchased through Google One membership also applies to media storage—if you lease 100GiB of capacity at Google One’s $2/month or $20/year plans, that capacity applies to your Google Photos data as well.

Finally, Pixel smartphone users also get an out—High Quality media uploaded from Pixel phones, first through fifth generation, will continue to enjoy free unlimited storage even after June 2021.

You might be bad at math, but Google isn't—the company will look at the rate at which you accumulate data and project the point at which you'll hit capacity limits.
Enlarge / You might be bad at math, but Google isn’t—the company will look at the rate at which you accumulate data and project the point at which you’ll hit capacity limits.

Jim Salter

If you’re not sure how long your available storage will last, you can get an estimate at That page will use the rate at which a Google account has stored data—including Drive, Gmail, and Photos—and project the date at which that account will bump up against capacity limits.

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