We may finally be close to integrating Google Photos into the ChromeOS Files app

We may finally be close to integrating Google Photos into the ChromeOS Files app

For a very long time, we Chromebook users have been hoping for an official merger of the ChromeOS Files app and Google Photos. After all, on a Pixel phone, Google Photos is the de facto gallery and editing app and it’s a great tool for delivering the right image when needed for whatever app you want to use. Instead of searching, uploading, moving, and downloading an image I took a few days ago on Instagram, I can just choose to add a new photo, select Google Photos as one of my storage options, and choose the image I would like to share. It’s neat, easy, clean, and we’ve really wanted it on Chromebooks for a while now.

To be fair, there are currently a few links for this type of behavior on a Chromebook, but they don’t work across the board and aren’t intended for web activities at all. If you install the Android Google Photos app, you’ll have a Google Photos section in your Files app, but unfortunately that disappears as soon as you need to use it as a file picker for a web task. If the app you’re using to view your file picker is Android-based, however, you’ll have the option to choose from your Google Photos library.

To make this clearer, let me show you a scenario. If I open instagram.com and choose to add a new message, when the Files app appears as my file picker, there is no Google Photos choice in the sidebar. If I do the exact same thing with the Android Instagram app, you’ll notice that the Files app now shows Google Photos as a location I can select.

Google Photos and the Files app

This is obviously a half measure, and I hope to see it rectified in a future update. Google Photos is both a powerful search/editing tool and a sortable place to access all your images and videos, so it would make sense to see it arrive in the ChromeOS Files app at some point. While it’s a bit unclear how they would go about it if they wanted to, I think we can look to another part of the operating system to see exactly how Google Photos might fit in. Files app in the future. The answer, I believe, lies in the updated wallpaper picker in the ChromeOS Personalization settings.

Up there in the top row, you might notice a new option to select your wallpaper: Google Photos. I wasn’t sure if it would work well at first, but it’s been great and implements as you’d expect. When you click the Google Photos button, you’re taken to the same timeline view you get in the app or on the web, and you can also choose to pull albums you’ve also created.

From here, you can choose a single image for a wallpaper or choose the entire album and have it refresh automatically in the background. This is a great option that will allow users to not only easily update wallpapers with their own images, but also easily sync those choices between devices without the need for additional file management.

It’s well-made and well-executed, but the wallpaper picker is just a shadow of what could come via the Files app if Google chooses to migrate what they’ve done, here. Imagine Google Photos being an option directly under Google Drive as a mounted file option, allowing literally the same interface that Google has already provided in the wallpaper picker. Both the Customization Hub and the Files app are system web apps, so there’s really no reason why it can’t all be copied from one to the other.

If that were the case, then you can imagine a future where you go and choose a photo to upload to a web app or an Android app and as one of your options you just click Google Photos in the left sidebar, look through your photo collection, and choose the image you need. Maybe down the road a simple Google Photos search could also be included, but for now the same implementation we have in the wallpaper picker would be perfectly fine as a starting point.

Will Google make this move? We don’t know for sure, but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t at this point. There are even a few changes in Chromium that Gerrit points to. The integration they have built into the wallpaper picker is proof enough for me that this addition is not only possible, but capable of being done in an easy and usable way. at present. If it’s not on the roadmap very soon, hopefully this post will inspire someone at Google to consider putting it there. It would be one of my absolute favorite additions to ChromeOS, and I think that would be true for many as well.


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