Separating Videos from Google Photos

Storage is cheap, but it's not free and 4K home movies use a lot of storage. There's no easy way to find and delete a particular file or type of file in Google Photos, and there's no way to bulk delete with a tool or even the API. Here's a simple tool chain that answered my need to move all videos out to cheaper storage so I could reclaim storage space in my Google account.

Google Photos has some unique talents. I find it useful for exploring my own archives with the built-in machine learning features like "pictures from Ashland" or "red car". The balance of value is less favorable for videos, and they were the only reason I was paying for 2TB of cloud storage, so I decided to prune them out of my Google Photos account.

Problem: there's no easy way to do that! Even the API doesn't have a delete operation. I can find them easily enough in the app by searching "videos", and I can painstakingly download them and delete them, but let's do this as code so that you can replay the solution and I can remember how it works.

Sync Photos and Videos

I found gphotos-sync which uses the Google Photos API to download all photos and videos from the account.

Move Videos

I wrote a tiny Python program to to move my videos out of the gphotos-sync directory.

  1. walk the gphotos-sync photos directory
  2. detect if a file is a video MIME type
  3. move the videos to a new folder
 python ./
Moving: ./2017/02/2017-02-15-they-sang.mp4 787.8MiB -> ./Videos/videos_from_gphotos/2017/02/2017-02-15-they-sang.mp4
Moving: ./2003/04/or-portland-roofing_residence.3gp 849.1KiB -> ./Videos/videos_from_gphotos/2003/04/or-portland-roofing_residence.3gp
Moving: ./2003/02/or-ashland-alex_and_ax_blowin_in_the_wind.3gp 1.0MiB -> ./Videos/videos_from_gphotos/1973/02/or-ashland-alex_and_ax_blowin_in_the_wind.3gp
Total: 58.7GiB
import filetype
from os.path import join, getsize, dirname
from os import walk, chdir
from shutil import move
from pathlib import Path

# moves files with a video MIME type to a different top-level directory with the same directory structure

def main():
    # The top argument for walk
    topdir = './Downloads/from_gphotos/photos'
    dest_topdir = './Videos/videos_from_gphotos'

    total_bytes = 0
    for root, dirs, files in walk('.'):
        for name in files:
            if Path(join(root, name)).is_symlink():
            elif filetype.is_video(join(root, name)):
                size = getsize(join(root, name))
                total_bytes = size+total_bytes
                dest = Path(join(dest_topdir, root.strip('./'), name))
                print("Moving:", join(root, name), sizeof_fmt(size), "->", dest)
                    parent = Path(dirname(dest))
                    parent.mkdir(parents=True, exist_ok=True)
                    move(join(root, name), dest)
                except Exception:
    print("Total:", sizeof_fmt(total_bytes))

def sizeof_fmt(num, suffix="B"):
    for unit in ["", "Ki", "Mi", "Gi", "Ti", "Pi", "Ei", "Zi"]:
        if abs(num) < 1024.0:
            return f"{num:3.1f}{unit}{suffix}"
        num /= 1024.0
    return f"{num:.1f}Yi{suffix}"

if __name__ == '__main__':

Delete All Videos From Google Photos

There's a simple trick to do this in a fell swoop.

  1. search "videos" and make sure the results are all videos
  2. tick the select box on the first result
  3. scroll down to the bottom of results
  4. hold SHIFT and left-click the last result
  5. click the trash button or press # to delete

As of this writing the videos would be in Trash for 60 days before they're permanently deleted and the available storage returned to you.

Replicated Videos to New Storage

I still need to keep a copy of my videos off-site in case something happens to my storage at home or I lose access for some reason. I didn't want to keep track of copying the files so it needs to be an automated sync.

I chose rclone which is a versatile sync tool for cloud storage. It works with S3-compliant APIs, and I found STORJ has a very cheap option and as a bonus it is a form decentralized storage with an open-source bent. Cool.

  1. I signed up for Storj's free 150GB option and added about 20 USD worth of STORJ tokens to my account to cover future overages. No credit card required.
  2. I followed Storj's own guide for configuring rclone.
  3. I added a sync command to my backup script:
rclone sync ~/Videos/ storj:videos/