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How to Back Up All Your Photos with Amazon’s Prime Photos


Millions of people are Amazon Prime subscribers, but many of them don’t realize that in addition to free shipping and Prime Instant Video, they also get unlimited photo storage for all their computers and mobile devices.

We’ve been encouraging people to get more out of their Amazon account by taking advantage of all the extra features—and unlimited photo storage is definitely a feature that Prime subscribers should take advantage of. Even if you already have a total PC backup system in place, or you’re taking advantage of another type of backup service for your photos like iCloud, we’d still encourage you to take advantage of Prime Photo storage—after all, you’ve already paid for it, and you can never have your irreplaceable photos backed up in too many places.

Thanks to a combination of manual upload through the Prime Photos site, the Amazon Drive + Photos app for Windows and Mac computers, and mobile apps for iOS and Android, it’s absolutely trivial to get your photos into Prime Photo and keep them up to date. Let’s take a look at each method, starting with the no-software-needed manual way.

Manual Upload: Drag, Drop, and Done

Manual upload is a great place to start, because to get there, you have to log into our Amazon Prime Photos control panel and become familiar with the service. To do so, simply visit amazon.com/photos and log in with your Amazon credentials.

If this is your first time every using the service, you’ll see a blank slate like the one seen below.

You can select the “Upload Photos” button to use your operating system’s file explore to select photos or, more conveniently, simply drag and drop photos right onto the browser pane.

Either way, you’ll see an upload meter in the lower left corner. Once it wraps up, you’re free to browse your photos.

In addition to the noting the upload is complete, also note the “People” tag in the sidebar, as well as the “Things” tags above it. Amazon’s Photo service has improved significantly since their clunky offerings in years past, now with sophisticated face recognition and the ability to recognize object patterns in photos. Thanks to the automatically generated tags, you can easily search for combinations of tags—like checking the tag for your kid in the “People” category and “Lawn” to show just photos of him outside in the yard or on the soccer field.

Be prepared to be shocked at how uncannily accurate the recognition algorithms are. In a series of photos we uploaded of some neighborhood dogs at play, the algorithm tagged all dog photos as “Dog”, including photos of puppies as “Puppy”.

The Desktop App: Because Nobody’s Drag ‘n Dropping 40,000 Photos

If you have a lot of photos to upload and you’re not interested in the hassle of manually uploading them, the desktop app is the path to happiness for you. The app also allows you convert the names of the folders into album names, which is especially handy.

Visit the Prime Photos splash page and download the appropriate version for your operating system. Run the app to install it and then log into your Amazon account.

After signing in, you’ll be prompted to confirm which folder you wish to use as the syncing folder. By default the app creates a brand new folder in your user directory called “Amazon Drive” as seen below. We recommend you leave this as the default for now. This will give you an opportunity to play around with the file syncing by adding a few folders to the directory before you unleash the syncing process and all your photos at once. (It’s far better to find out with a sample directory or two, for example, that your naming structure isn’t going to be preserved properly than to end up with 1,000 mangled directory names). You can always change the default directory later once you’ve confirmed it works the way you want it to. Click “Next”.

Next, you’ll be prompted to sync folders from your Amazon Drive account to your computer. Unless you have a compelling reason to want to sync all your drive folders to this computer, it’s best to skip this step and choose not to sync.  Choosing not to sync here has absolutely no impact on your photo backup process.

Finally, you’ll be presented with a handy little key for reading the Amazon Drive interface, and the Drive app will park itself in your system tray, awaiting some files to upload.

Simply add some test photo files (or folders) to the sync directory, and watch the uploader chug away:

Now when you look in your Prime Photos web dashboard, you’ll see your new photos. There’s one thing you may notice is amiss, however, if you uploaded (as we did) photos that were already in a named folder. By default, the Prime Photos just scans your Amazon Drive for photos and sucks them up into the Photo dashboard, organized by both the date they were taken as well as any tags that Amazon automatically applies to them (such as the aforementioned “People” tags).

It does not, by default, automatically apply the directory names you may have already applied to your photo storage system. If you wish for Prime Photo to also use your album names in addition to its default organization scheme, you’ll need to tweak your Prime Photos dashboard to do so.

NOTE: If you are only using Prime Photos for backup purposes and don’t really care what organization structure the photos are presented using via the actual Prime Photos dashboard this step isn’t necessary. Uploading your Photos to Amazon Drive with the uploader app will keep your photos in their original directories even if Prime Photos doesn’t recognize those directories by default.

Select “Albums” from the left hand navigation menu and then click on “Select Folders” at the bottom of the empty “Albums” screen.

Check any folder from your list of Amazon Drive folders that you wish to have represented in Prime Photos as an album. Do note that this will not create duplicates or make a mess of your files. It will simply tell Prime Photos to use those directories as album names (the photos will still be in the main dashboard view organized by date).

When you’ve finished checking all the folders you wish to turn into Prime Photo albums, click “Create albums” at the bottom of the menu and you’ll be treated to organization based on the folder names you synced to Amazon Drive:

At this point, all you need to do to keep your photo backup process automated is leave the Amazon Drive app running in the system tray and add any photos you wish to backup to the sync folder. If you kept the sync folder set to the default but you already have a large and populated photo directory, now is the time to switch the default to your primary photo directory. You can do so easily by right clicking on the Drive icon in your system tray, selecting the menu icon in the upper right corner, and then selecting “Preferences”.

Simply change the default folder in the preferences menu to your primary photo directory and let it churn through your vast photo archive.

The Mobile App: Uploads on the Go, Because Latte Snapshots Are Art

Backing up your massive pile of photos on  your desktop computer is important, but let’s be honest: most of us are taking far more photos using our phones than with anything else. Furthermore, it just makes good sense to actively backup your smartphone photos—your phone is far more likely to get broken, lost, stolen, or dropped in a lake than your computer.

To get started, visit the app store on your mobile device and download the Prime Photos app for either Android or iPhone. Install and run the app and log in with your Amazon credentials. If prompted to allow “Prime Photos” to access your photos, do so. The only real big decision when dealing with the app setup is whether or not you want the app to automatically upload all your photos or if you want to have manual oversight. When prompted, you can click “OK” to start the upload process right now, or “Not Now” to play around with the app first before committing to it uploading all your pictures.

Regardless of what you choose, you’ll be greeted with your existing Prime Photo content. While the layout is different compared to the webapp, all the key items are there: albums, people tags, a search function for the “thing” tags, and a handy menu button, labeled “More”, down in the corner to get at the settings.

There in the “More” menu, you’ll find a handful of useful links, including a top level link to toggle “Auto-Save” on and off, a link to manually upload photos (if you’re manually curating your uploads), and an additional “Settings” menu.

There’s only one immediately relevant setting in the “Settings” menu you’ll need to attend to. If you want to enable the app to upload over cellular data (instead of just Wi-Fi), you can toggle that on. Otherwise, to keep your data usage down, leave it turned off in the default state.


Now that we’ve run you through how to use the web, desktop, and mobile app, you’ll be able to easily (and in two out of three of those instances, automatically) upload all your photos and enjoy unlimited Prime Photo storage.


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