Google Photos HDR: Why Duplicate Edits Happen and What to Do



Updated: June 30, 2024

Google Photos HDR: Why Duplicate Edits Happen and What to Do

Many people love using Google Photos to keep their pictures organized. However, some newer Android phones, like the Google Pixel 8a, have a quirk when editing HDR photos. Let's break down why you might be seeing duplicate edited photos and how this impacts your storage.

HDR Photography: A Quick Explanation

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It's a photography technique that combines multiple shots of the same scene, each taken with different brightness levels. This process creates a single photo with enhanced details in both light and dark areas, resulting in a more realistic and visually appealing image.

The Duplicate Edit Dilemma

The issue stems from how Google Photos handles HDR edits. Unlike regular photos where edits overwrite the original, editing an HDR image creates a separate copy. You end up with both the original HDR photo and the edited version.

This duplication leads to two primary concerns. First, it consumes double the storage space, which can be problematic on devices with limited storage. Second, it clutters your Google Photos library, making it challenging to locate specific photos amidst the duplicates.

Why This Started Happening

The root of this issue lies in the introduction of built-in HDR support with Android 14. Prior to this, Google Photos couldn't retain HDR information during edits. To circumvent this limitation, edits were saved as copies, preserving the original HDR data. While a necessary workaround at the time, it created the ongoing issue of duplicate photos.

Good News on the Horizon

Fortunately, Google is actively developing a solution to address this problem. A future Google Photos update is expected to enable HDR photo editing without generating duplicate copies.

Until the official fix arrives, there are several ways to manage duplicate HDR edits in Google Photos:

  • Manual Cleanup: After editing, delete the duplicate photos. However, this can be time-consuming, especially for large photo libraries.
  • Alternative Photo Editors: Explore other photo editing apps that can modify HDR photos without creating duplicates. Keep in mind that this requires using a separate app.
  • Temporarily Disable HDR: Consider turning off HDR in your camera app's settings. While this allows edits to directly overwrite the original in Google Photos, you'll lose the enhanced quality HDR photos offer.