As Android phone user, Google Photos is my app of choice for photo storage. Sometimes I take a lot of photos at events, and I want to add them to blog posts.
Usually I resort to downloading the images to my laptop, editing them and uploading them to my blog.
It occurred to me the other day that it would save me time if I could add images straight from my Google Photos to WordPress.
After a spot of Googling I realised it was simpler than I initially imagined! Someone had already built the plugins needed to do the job.
So here are three plugins to add Google Photos to WordPress, all free to download from WordPress.org.
Which is best? They each have their pros and cons, so read on and find out!
Jetpack is the simplest plugin to set up.
How do you insert Google Photos with Jetpack?
First, check the following:
- you have the Jetpack plugin installed and active
- you have connected it to WordPress.com
(If you have a WordPress.com site, you can use the Google Photos integration and skip these steps, as your site already has Jetpack functionality.)
Next, you must be logged into WordPress.com to add Google Photos. The option is only available as part of the WordPress.com interface.
Navigate to My Sites in WordPress.com and select your site.
Under Site, select Posts or Pages and then Add New Post (or Add New Page).
If you are not using the Block Editor
Click on Add and then Google Photos library.
When you do this for the first time, you’ll be asked to authorise the connection to Google Photos. Choose your Google account and select Allow when prompted.
You should then see your Google Photos appear in date order from newest to oldest. Use the slider control to change the size of the thumbnails when viewing.
If you want just one image to go in the post, click Insert after making your choice.
For multiple images, select the images you want and then Copy to Media Library. If you want the same images in the post as well, choose Continue. Multiple images will be added as a Gallery.
If you are using the Block Editor
In a new post or page, add an Image block or a Gallery block.
Click the Media Library button in the block.
Click on the arrow in the top left next to the image icon “Choose Media Library source”. Select Google Photos library.
Make the connection to your Google account, if you’re doing this for the first time.
Select one image if you’re using the Image block, or multiple if you are using the Gallery block. Images add automatically to the block. You can change their size, orientation etc. after this.
Revoking access to Google Photos
If you want to revoke access to Google Photos you can disconnect it by going to WordPress.com’s Sharing settings. Select your site and then click the Disconnect button next to Google Photos.
This will halt any further access to Google Photos. Any previously downloaded photos in your Media Library will remain.
If you change your mind, you can reconnect.
Pros of Jetpack’s Google Photos integration
- Saves time if you want to add a batch of photos quickly.
- No plugin settings to configure or API keys to get.
- You can select individually the images you want.
- Copies images to your Media Library, so you can edit them.
- Once you’ve connected Google Photos, you can add your photos across all your sites connected to WordPress.com.
Cons of Jetpack’s Google Photos integration
- Full size photos can be large (mine were 4MB in size) so you don’t want to get in the habit of adding them to posts, as they will slow down the page load. (Smaller image sizes are less weighty.) For a faster site, you might want to use an image compression plugin, or use Jetpack’s Site Accelerator feature.
- Images keep their default filenames e.g.
20190628_154220.jpg. While you can use a plugin to rename them later to make them more SEO-friendly, it’s fiddly.
- There’s no way to add albums.
- You can’t filter photos by date before adding them – scrolling is required!
- For self-hosted WordPress, Jetpack is a Swiss army knife of a plugin. If you’re only using this one feature, it might not be worth installing.
2. Google Photos Gallery with Shortcodes
To use Google Photos Gallery with Shortcodes you’ll need to get API keys and authenticate with your Google account. This is a little tricky to do, but fortunately you only have to do it once.
This plugin works via shortcodes. You enter the shortcodes in the post editor if you’re using the Classic Editor, or in the Shortcode block if you are using the Block Editor.
Unless you want to show all your Google Photos, you need a pair of shortcodes on two separate posts or pages.
This shortcode shows your own albums in a grid.
[cws_gpp_albums_gphotos access=own theme='grid' results_page='results']
You need to create a post or page to show the album’s photos. In the shortcode above, the photos will show in a post or page with the slug results.
In your results page, you enter a shortcode like this:
This will show the images in the album previously selected in a carousel.
In this example the filename shows in the photos. You can hide this by adding
show_title=0 to the shortcode.
Pros of Google Photos Gallery with Shortcodes
- Display albums and photos in a grid, list or carousel.
- Hide albums via the
- Show and hide the album titles and details i.e. filename and description.
- You can overlay the album title on the thumbnail image.
- There is a built-in lightbox.
- The photos are not saved in your Media Library – they’re served from Google. This saves you space, though it means you can’t manipulate them directly within WordPress.
Cons of Google Photos Gallery with Shortcodes
- The shortcodes are tricky to use. The other plugins are definitely more user friendly.
- No way to select individual images. You have put your photos in albums first.
- Images show as within Google Photos: if you want to edit them, you need to do it there first.
- No date or content filtering available. You either show all your photos or specific albums.
- The grid view was buggy for me. With 7 albums, I had three show on one page, two on another and two on a third, with a Next link after each. I was expecting them to show all on the one page, or at the most two.
- The carousel moves by itself. You can pause it with the mouse, but there are no keyboard controls to do so.
- Some of the cooler options are only in the Pro version e.g. showing images from one specific album or download links.
- If you deactivate the plugin, you have to reauthenticate with Google if you subsequently reactivate it.
- A major flaw with this plugin is that if you access a ‘results’ page URL directly i.e. without clicking through from an album first, your entire photo stream shows, newest images first. This is bad if you want to keep some images private! For me that’s a deal breaker for using this plugin.
3. Photonic Gallery & Lightbox for Flickr, SmugMug, Google Photos, Zenfolio and Instagram
Photonic doesn’t just cover Google Photos – it allows you to add images from a range of services.
Like the previous plugin, you’ll need to create API keys and authenticate with your Gooogle account in order to use it.
Once you do, you are ready to add a gallery.
As with the previous plugin, the photos are not added to your Media Library.
If you are not using the Block Editor
- Click the Add/Edit Photonic Gallery button above the post editor.
- Select Google Photos as the source.
- Select Multiple Photos, Photos from an Album or Multiple Albums.
- Filter the content if you want.
- Choose a gallery layout.
- Edit your gallery. For example, you may want to limit the size of the photos displayed in the lightbox.
- Use the Insert Gallery button to insert your gallery.
- Save the post and view it to see the gallery.
If you are using the Block Editor
- Add the Photonic Gallery block from the Widgets section.
- Click on Add Photonic Gallery in the block.
- Follow the steps in the previous section.
Pros of Photonic
- Works with multiple photo sharing services, not just Google Photos.
- 94 five star reviews on WordPress.org, and good support (48/55 issues resolved in the last two months).
- 6 gallery types to choose from.
- Supports the Block Editor – there is a Photonic block.
- Date and Date Range filters. Handy if you want to show all photos from a specific event.
- Content filters using Google-defined categories. For example, these are photos tagged as food.
- Supports various lightboxes.
- You can enable social sharing in the lightbox.
- The feature set rivals premium plugins, and yet it’s free.
Cons of Photonic
- This was the hardest of the three plugins to set up – I found it took me about 20 minutes to get the required API keys and authentication. Fortunately it’s a one-time step.
- Images show as-is. If you want to crop them first, for example, you would need to do that in Google Photos first.
- Lots of settings; it may take you time to get the most out of the plugin.
- You can’t select images individually to show. If you want specific ones, you have to add them to an album first. I couldn’t see a way to exclude items from a filtered group either.
- Photonic may require extra setup to work with Gutenberg to avoid breakages.
- As the Galleries load from Google, they may take a few seconds to show when the page is loaded. I found this a problem when trying to add two galleries to the one post.
For me it’s between Jetpack and Photonic. Which one you pick will depend on what you want to do.
Jetpack wins if you want specific images to go in your Media Library, and don’t mind spending a bit of time selecting and editing them.
Photonic wins if you want beautiful layouts and the filtering of photos, and don’t want to manipulate individual images.
Have you tried any of these plugins, and what did you think? Let me know in the comments below.