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How to Download Your Data From Google (Including Photos)

Are you looking to download your personal data from Google services like Gmail, Drive, and Photos? In this step-by-step guide, I‘ll walk you through how to use Google Takeout to export and download all your Google data, including instructions specifically for photos.

By the end, you‘ll have a complete understanding of the Takeout process and be able to gain control over your data stored on Google‘s servers. Let‘s get started!

Why You Should Download Your Google Data

Before we dive in, it‘s important to understand why you might want to download your information from Google using Takeout in the first place:

  • Transparency – Takeout gives you visibility into how much personal data Google has collected on you across their products. This data transparency is useful for understanding Google‘s data practices.

  • Privacy – Downloading your data is an essential privacy step, as you can store it independently from Google. This puts control of your data back in your hands.

  • Backups – Takeout provides backups of important personal data like emails, photos, documents, etc. This protects your data against loss.

  • Migrating – If you want to switch from Google services, downloading your data makes it easy to migrate to alternatives.

  • Delete data – While Takeout doesn‘t delete data from Google, you can use your downloaded data to then selectively remove items directly on Google‘s servers.

According to Google‘s Privacy Policy, they collect extensive personal and behavioral data on users including search and browsing history, location information, emails, contacts, and more. One study found the average Google user has over 1GB of data stored!

Overview of Google Takeout

Google Takeout provides an automated self-service way to export a copy of your data. Here‘s a quick rundown of the process:

  • Visit the Google Takeout page and sign-in to your account
  • Select data types to export across Google products
  • Customize export settings like file size and format
  • Export – Google compiles then exports your data
  • Download – Google emails you links to download your exported files

Pretty straightforward right? Now let‘s look at each step in more detail.

Step 1 – Navigate to the Takeout Page

First, you‘ll need to visit the Google Takeout page. You can go directly to or click here.

Once you open the page, make sure you are signed in to the specific Google account you want to export data from. Look for your profile picture in the top right and switch accounts if needed.

Sign in to Google Takeout

Sign in to the Google account you want to download data from

With the right account selected, you‘re ready to start customizing your data export!

Step 2 – Select Google Products to Download From

On the main Takeout page, you‘ll see a list of over 30 Google products you can download your personal data from. By default, the list will have nearly everything selected.

You can customize exactly which Google services you want to export data from by checking and unchecking items:

Select data to export

For example, if you only wanted to download your Photos, Drive, and Gmail data, you would uncheck all other items and leave just those three selected.

Some key Google products with personal data you may want to include:

  • Photos – downloads all image and video files from Google Photos
  • Drive – exports documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, and other Drive files
  • Gmail – downloads all emails, attachments, contacts, etc.
  • YouTube – includes your uploaded videos, comments, playlists, and more
  • Location History – provides a list of logged location data points from your device
  • Contacts – exports your full Google Contacts address book

Review and tailor your selections until you‘ve checked every Google product you want in your Takeout export.

Step 3 – Configure Your Export Settings

Once you‘ve picked the Google services to export data from, the next step is configuring your export settings:

Google Takeout settings

On this page you can configure:

  • Delivery method – One-time export or recurring periodic backups
  • File type & size – ZIP, TGZ, or uncompressed. And max size per file.
  • Export content – All content or just new since last export

Some recommendations based on my experience:

  • For one-time use like migrating away from Google, choose a single export
  • Go with the ZIP file type for easiest use and portability
  • 2GB is a good maximum file size to allow large enough exports while preventing giant gigabyte files
  • Export all content to get your full data history from Google

Once you‘ve set your preferences, click Create Export at the bottom.

Google will now start processing and compiling your selected data from their servers. For large amounts of data, this can take several hours or even days to complete.

Step 4 – Download Exported Data from Email

Once your Takeout export is ready, Google will send an email with download links – it will look something like this:

Hi Jane, 

Your Google data export is ready to download. Get your files here:

Google Takeout Team

Click the link in the email, enter your account password or provided export password, and your browser will begin downloading your exported files.

Depending on how much data is involved, this may be a single file or multiple segmented ZIP files. Make sure to download all the files in the email.

The downloaded Takeout files contain your Google data organized into JSON files and folders:

Google Takeout downloaded files

You now have your Google data exported and available for offline use!

Tips for Downloading Google Photos

Specifically for Google Photos, here are some tips to ensure you get all your photos and albums:

  • Make sure to select Google Photos in Step 2 above
  • Choose ZIP file format for easy photo transfer
  • Pick 2GB max file size so photos aren‘t split across files
  • Export original quality versions for highest resolution copies
  • Photos appear organized into dated subfolders within the Takeout ZIP files
  • Album names and structures won‘t be preserved, but photos remain

So those are my top tips for using Takeout to successfully export your treasured Google Photos library!

Migrating Data Away from Google

Once you‘ve downloaded your data from Google Takeout, a common next step is migrating away from Google services entirely.

Takeout data can help you more easily switch over to alternative non-Google options for:

  • Email -> Services like Outlook, iCloud Mail, or ProtonMail
  • Photos -> Options like Flickr, iCloud Photos, or Dropbox
  • Drive files -> Alternatives like Microsoft OneDrive or Dropbox
  • Contacts -> Your iPhone Contacts, Outlook, or phone‘s address book

The hardest service to migrate away from is typically Gmail, as you‘ll need to update logins tied to that email address. But with your Takeout archive, the process is much simpler.

Next Steps After Downloading Your Google Data

You now have your Google data exported – great job! Here are some next steps to consider:

  • Review your Takeout archive to audit what Google data exists
  • Delete any unwanted Google data you find directly on their servers
  • Consider periodically exporting fresh data every few months
  • Back up your Takeout files somewhere secure like an external hard drive
  • Migrate away from Google services completely using your data if you want more privacy

Let me know if you have any other questions about getting your personal data out of Google! I‘m happy to help.