Google Photos and Apple/Icloud Photos together makes duplicates - help me making it stop

I am using both Google Photos and Apple/Icloud Photos.
In my iPhone my photos syncs with both above services.
This makes duplicates somewhere. I don’t exactly know where.

I would like to delete the duplicates from Google Photos and/or from Apple Photos. But that deletes my duplicate at Google Photos, and my only copy at Apple Photos is deleted, too.

From what I understand there is two problems

  1. Stop making duplicates
  2. Delete the duplicates…but without deleting the Apple Photos copies, too.

I don’t have a Google Sync software in my mac
My iPad does not sync photos to Google Photos (only my iPhone does)

Does anyone recognise this problem? How have you solved it in your system?

I understand that this will takes some time to delete duplicates. I have about 90.000 photos in Apple Photos and Google Photos, and I believe that perhaps 15% are duplicates,

I could be wrong, but I don’t think you can use Google Photos with iPhone alongside iCloud Photos. I’ve run into similar issues with other photo syncing services when iCloud is being used. I believe the issue is that iCloud doesn’t always store the photos on device, so a thumbnail can get uploaded to the sync service, and then if the full resolution downloads then it thinks it’s a new image. Or vice versa, if the full resolution image uploads to Google Photos, and then perhaps you run an edit in Google Photos and it downloads back to Photos, then iCloud thinks it’s a new photo and uploads it.

I’m not sure if that’s truly what’s happening, but I had a lot of issues when trying to sync through both iCloud Photos and other services.

Do you have access to a macOS machine that can download all iCloud photos locally? If so, I would:

  1. Turn off Google Photos syncing on iOS.
  2. Set iCloud Photos to “Download all originals”.
  3. Once fully downloaded, run a photo de-dupe app like Gemini.
  4. After it finishes and you feel confident in the duplication status of your iCloud photos.
  5. Remove all photos currently in Google Photos.
  6. Install Google Sync software and turn on syncing with Photos on the Mac-only.

This should get you back to a good starting point, and then should allow you to run them simultaneously without them interfering with their counterparts.

That said, it’s a tedious process keeping multiple systems in sync. I’ve given up trying to use multiple photo services and just accepted iCloud. It works the best across iOS and macOS, and I backup to Backblaze and a local computer, so my photos are relatively safe.


I’ve been using both Apple Photos and Google Photos for several years and haven’t had the duplication problem you describe. I use my iPad to sync, but previously used my iPhone.

I see no problem with the procedure suggested by @kennonb. I’ve never used a Mac to sync my photos to Google, but I agree that it is probably best to sync from only one device. If you follow Kennon’s procedure I suggest, after you have your library deduplicated, you document any edits, deletes, etc. for a time in an effort to determine where your problem originated.

FYI, when I delete a photo from Google Photos it is also deleted from (let’s call it) iPhotos. But when I delete a photo from iPhotos it does not delete the copy that has been synced to Google. So, when I delete a photo/video from Google that I do not want deleted from Apple I just recover the file from the iPhotos ‘Recently Deleted’ album within 30 days.

My personal choice of deduplication software is

Good luck