Even though I adore Google Photos and the endless slideshows on the Google displays I have at home and work, I wouldn’t entrust my memories to any one company. That’s why, for a long time, I’ve been using Google Takeout to download a copy of the photos from the previous year to add them to Apple Photos as a backup. The system works, but it’s too manual and prone to mistakes.

Maybe you don’t know this, but even when you use Google Photos to manage the pictures you take, Android will keep a copy of them in the DCIM folder on your phone. And as far as I know, they will not be automatically deleted. To free up space, you must use the cleanup option or manually delete them. But what if I told you that this inconvenience could work in your favor?

The other day, I had one of those click moments that helped me see this issue as a blessing in disguise. Here’s what I’m currently trying to do as I write this post.

Remember Syncthing? I set it up to synchronize the DCIM folder on the Pixel with a folder I created on my Mac. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please watch the video below explaining how to do it. On it I’m demonstrating how to sync Obsidian, but don’t worry about that. The steps are the same for the DCIM folder.

I am optimistic that this plan will address two issues. The first one is having an easier way to back up my photos, but it will also help me with cleaning up the images that are constantly piling up on my phone. To give you an example, early today, when setting the system up, I discovered 23 GB of old photos and short clips stored on my Android.

It will take a while for all that to be copied to the computer, but the beauty is that Syncthing works both ways. Once the files that have been synchronized with my computer are transferred to Apple Photos and deleted from the folder, they will be automatically deleted on the phone.

This is the very first test I’m doing to make sure Syncthing is correctly transferring everything to the Mac and then deleting the files on the phone when I delete them on the computer. If everything goes well, the next step will be to create an automation to replace the manual process on the Mac side.

This is all for now. When I have further updates about this idea, I’ll publish part two of this article.

Also published on Medium