How to Organize and Share Your Pictures with Gnome Photos

Photos Featured Image

Keeping images locally can seem a little passe when the standard capture device is a mobile phone constantly attached to the Internet. For archive collections that may push beyond your free storage allocation, or for those projects where you don’t want the risk of your pictures flying across networks, there are applications like Shotwell and Gnome Photos.

The latter has become the default photo management app in Gnome since the release of Gnome 3.36. In this short guide you’ll learn the process of adding photos, creating albums, making basic edits and sharing images.

Screenshot shoring the launch interface of Gnome Photos, including a grid of photographs and other images.

Despite being the default photos app on Gnome, it wasn’t installed on our fresh Ubuntu machine. You can install it via the Software Manager.

Ubuntu Install Gnome Photos

When you first launch the application it will scan through your top level directories and import every image into the database. Depending on how many pictures there are scattered across your drives, this can be great, or it can be a nightmare. 

Importing your shots

One issue that may cause a problem is that Photos cannot look inside folders, other than the standard DCIM folders on a connected SD card. However, this does mean you can organize things like screenshots, random memes or more sensitive photos, to stay out of your library simply by keeping them inside folders.

Screenshot showing the import dialog for Gnome Photos.

To import photos from a camera or SD card, connect the device to your PC, open the Photos application and the device is announced at the top of the window. From here, hit the Import button, then either take everything within the DCIM folder, or make a selection before importing. Once your selection is made, hit Import.

Screenshot showing the selection interface for importing images on Gnome Photos

There is an opportunity to create a new album for the import or add to an existing album.

The minimal interface

Screenshot showing the Colours part of Gnome Photo's Edit inferface.

Once you have a collection on screen, click an individual image to have it fill the window. The left and right arrows at each edge of the image can page through your collection. Use the Back button on the top left to go back to the library.

When looking at the full-screen image, there is a trio of buttons on the top right. These will add a picture to your Favorites; make edits, including cropping to some common aspect ratios, adjusting the color, contrast or sharpness of the image; or apply one of a small range of filters.

Screenshot from Gnome Photos showing the interface for setting up an album of photos on a theme.

The Favorites button is useful, but Albums allow for a much more granular sorting of pictures. By default, images are shown by their creation date, but you can build albums based on any criteria.

Stay organized

To select a range of images, either click the “check” icon on the top right or right-click any image to enable selections. Use the mouse to select multiple pictures. Click “Add to album” on the bottom right of the interface. A list of available albums is displayed (select one to add the pictures), or you can click “Add to create a new album.” Once you’ve named the new album, hit Return and then select “Add” again.

Screenshot showing the Properties section of an individual image in Gnome Photos. It allows for some basic file editing.

Finally, the app has a share sheet for emailing images and a menu to access the Properties, which allows for the naming of photos beyond filenames. Additional options will make a photo your desktop or lockscreen image or display it across the full screen.

Gnome Photos Share Box

An app like Photos is useful beyond just displaying your favorite pictures. If you work with images, illustrations or screenshots in your work, it is a pretty good asset library. Just remember to use the Albums effectively and don’t squirrel your pictures away inside folders. If you’re focused on sharing family photos with relatives and friends, an online solution may be better for you.

Andy Channelle

Andy Channelle is a writer and web developer who has written for Linux Format, Mac Format, 3D World and others, and has also published best-selling books on Ubuntu Linux and OpenOffice.org. He's recently worked on web projects and campaigns for the International Red Cross and the UN. He produces - but hardly ever releases - electronica under the name Collision Detector. Andy lives in Wales, UK.

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