Remove duplicate and empty Google+ photo albums in your Gallery

Has your Gallery gone haywire with blank and duplicate Google+ albums? Don't worry, you're not alone. Since the implementation of Google+ Instant Upload and its deep integration into the included Gallery app, more and more of the photos you see on your device aren't actually... on your device. This all works great until there's an issue -- and what many people have been experiencing is duplicate, blank, and mislabeled albums showing up in their Gallery.

The problem is there's no way from the Gallery to manage these photos, it has to be done on the web. If you've been having issues with weird albums showing up in your Gallery, hang tight after the break and see if we can do something about that.

Google+ won't be able to fix it

Somewhere in the vast expanses of grey area between Picasa and Google+, lines are crossed and your photos don't get synced properly to your device. Most of us have never used Picasa proper a single time in our lives, but it is still the back-end syncing solution for photos on your phone and Google+. While things will likely seem fine and dandy if you view your Instant Uploads and albums from the Google+ web interface, the back-end Picasa albums aren't just a carbon copy of what you see above.

If you have blank and duplicate albums, they likely won't show up in Google+. Maybe because it is smart enough to ignore them, or maybe it's just a glitch in the matrix, we're not so sure. We're also not entirely sure how this issue is happening -- but we know that you have to go to Picasa to fix it.

Let's try Picasa instead

So the "right" way to get this done is to instead use Picasa to manage the albums. Head to the Picasa Web Albums site, found at, and select the "My Photos" tab at the top of the page (thanks to Wendell Seace on Google+ for pointing this out!). For those who seemingly get sent to Google+ with a redirect, you may have some cookie issues in your browser, try using this link instead to bypass the redirect. At this point, you should be shown all of the albums -- empty and otherwise -- listed in chronological order. From here, if you you have a duplicate Instant Upload folder, it should be displayed near the top with 0 photos inside. Click into the album, then at the top bar click "Actions", then "Delete album".

The album is now completely gone from your account, and should no longer show up in your phone's Gallery. While you're in there, it might be time for some good Spring cleaning. Look for duplicate photos, duplicate or empty albums and mismatched folders. For example, it really bugs me to have the albums labeled differently (2013-3-31 vs March 31, 2013) based on whether the album is a post, a proper photo album or just an instant upload that's private. If you feel like cleaning each of these up, you can do it.

Before (left) and after (right)

Once you've gone through all of the album sprucing up that you need to do, head back to your phone to check if everything has lined up. Open the Gallery, where it should automatically refresh if you have a data connection. If not, hit the overflow settings key at the top right and select "refresh" and let the photos re-populate in the proper folders. If you've deleted the proper albums, you should be looking at a (relatively) clean grouping of photos.

Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

  • Great tutorial. Thanks. Now, is there an easy way to identify and remove duplicate pictures in Picasa?
  • The other annoying gallery (or OS) bug. When you download a picture into a folder with a .nomedia file, something in the OS adds that picture to the gallery, which displays just that picture in that folder. I.e., the gallery won't index the rest of the folder, but you still have a folder in your gallery that you explicitly told it you didn't want there (by creating the .nomedia file). You can get rid of it by renaming the folder, reindexing the gallery, and then restoring the original folder name. But a multistep pain that shouldn't be necessary.
  • Why won't it allow me delete the album? Do you know?
  • This does not work. I am using Windows 7 with Chrome. If you use the address ( it simply takes you to your Google Plus Albums page. You can not access Picasa unless you download the software. Using the stand alone software, the above instructions do not apply. Is there another solution? I did log out of Google and try the link again but it just asks for you to log in and then takes you back to your Google Plus Albums page.
  • Same situation here! :( If I click the picasa link I'll be redirect to the google+ pages... Wait! In the Picasa desktop application - Tools - Other Function there is an entry called "delete empty album" and doing so I was able to delete my two empty "instant upload" from the gallery's smartphone!
  • at the top of the webpage when you click the link there should be a link saying return to picasa
  • Nope, it redirects to the Google+ Albums page with no mention of Picasa at all.
  • I think some people (me included) are now automatically forwarded to Google Photos. But when you enter there's usually a little yellow box appearing at the top of the page saying "Click here to go back to Picasa webalbums". Click link in that box, or simple use this link:
  • Yeah, that "noredirect" link is actually what Wendell provided in the source Google+ thread.
  • I didn't have a problem getting to the page or deleting the unused albums on: Win8 + Chrome Version 26.0.1410.64
  • Your browser and OS version are irrelevant to this issue. Most of us get redirected now on an account-level basis to the new setup. That's normal. But there's a clear link at the top of that page that gives you the option to go back to Picasa Web interface.
  • There is a tab on top of the page that you select to go directly to Picasa Web Albums, and I'm using Chrome on Linux Mint.
  • One thing I'd love to be able to do is when taking/uploading a photo using G+ I would like to put it directly into an album rather than the "From Posts" albums that are automatically created. Those "from post" albums take up a lot of space on my phone gallery and I would love for the ability to hide them.
  • No- this does not work at all. I have stand alone Picasa. 2 albums pegged with "sync to web". Those 2 albums show up on the + page. They do NOT show up in the native gallery app as they did before. Only locally stored pics are there. The 2 albums from Picasa disappeared a couple weeks ago. I have instant upload turned off permanently because I HATED seeing a new album pop up with every damn picture I take.
  • This procedure does word - need to go to link If you're redirected to G+ you'll see a small yellow tab at top of page that if selected will return you to picasaweb
  • wow thanks man.. talking about making it difficult.
  • K cool to know you can do it that way. I had that problem few months ago when I first bought my N4. I didn't know about the link to Picassa and couldn't find it either. I downloaded at the time Tool for Picassa app at Play Store from Colifer Lab. I was able to manage those photos right from my phone with it. If you can trust how the app manages your information it's a no brainer to get it and use it instead of the browser option.
    I particularly trust it half way only. I edit what I had to and uninstall it right away.
  • I'm able to delete the albums from the website, but when I go to my phone, which is the ZTE Warp Sequent (said with embarrassment), all the empty albums are still there, and there is no refresh option. Is it just because I have a lame phone?
  • With all due respect, this isn't much of a tip. You can avoid the redirect to Google+ with but deleting blank or duplicate albums is temporary... they will return soon. The second blank instant upload folder will be back after the next upload. How 'bout you guys call Google and ask them how long it's gonna take them to fix this mess?
  • Right, this is indeed a temporary solution. If (or when) we come up with a 100% foolproof way of stopping the duplicate albums from being created in the first place, we'll be sure to let you guys know. In the meantime we at least have this. If we did have some magical red phone in the corner of our desks that rang Google directly, we'd surely ask them why it's happening and whether or not a fix is coming. If that was the case though, we'd have to think there are a few things on higher priority for us to ask :P .
  • You're exactly right - I was all excited to try this, and happy it worked, but the very next picture I took was uploaded to Instant Upload and the empty album came right back. What is the deal with those albums anyways? Some have names that are dates, some are albums I've shared, and there seems to be a lot of overlap.
  • This comment is spot on. This is also a dangerous tip. It is a good way to really mess up your photo archives in Picasa and/or Google +. What is happening for me is that Instant Upload dated "albums" are showing up from Picasa in the Gallery on my mobile devices . They can be deleted from Picasa, but this also deletes them from instant uploads in Google+ which results in no archive of the photos. Proceed with caution. Google has "scroogled" the deprecation of Picasa and the promotion of Google+ photos and either is not aware, can't fix it, or doesn't care -- take your pick.
  • I'm having the same issue as Michael above, it just dumps me into Google+ Photos.
  • We're thinking some people who have opted not to go to Picasa Web at some point have an account/cookie issue that doesn't let them easily get at Picasa without a special link. We've added that link above in order to help those people along with the process.
  • I did this cleanup as soon as this issue came up. good to see this article written for others to cleanup
  • Heck Yeah!! Thats awesome how well that cleaned up my galleries look on my phone and tablet!!
    Thanks for that!
  • Thank you very much for the tutorial! I've been trying to fix this problem since a couple of months ago and finally you had the right answer. Thanks again!
  • Instead of clearing your cookies, just open a new private browsing session from your browser.
  • Such a crappy sight pisca is. Where's multi select instead of one photo at a time? Just gave up have photos since 2010 didn't even releaze this uploading.
  • I just disabled Google Photos sync on my phone. That way all those instant upload and Google+ photos and folders don't show up in my gallery app, yet they're easily accessible through the Google+ app.
  • Here is what everyone needs. I found this the other day and it is exactly what he is describing for you, but in an app. I have known how to do what he explained for about 2 months now but I find this time consuming and somewhat tedious. I TRUELY appreciate that he has shown people who have fallen into this conumdrum. /This app does this without having to go to the web site. It's a HUGE time saver and works!! I love it and hope it helps everyone out!
  • Why does an album get created with the date the photos were taken, and the same photos get added to my instant upload gallery? That's pretty annoying and I don't want to take the time to go in and delete all of the "date" albums. I like having my photos backed up though. Is there anyway to turn that feature off and retain my instant upload folder?
  • For me, those dated albums are created when I post or share a photo on Google+. Picassa shows the raw album names. Google+ hides the underpinnings. So be careful what you delete in Picassa. You might corrupt one of your Google+ postings.
  • I am going to take the easier path, wait for Google to fix all this and have all my pics and video tidied up and synced automatically, just as services like PictureLife do already. (No affiliation, just trying it out.)
  • Thanks very very very very much ^_^
  • I prefer Picasa. Since, pictures are taken by most people and usually with a mobile device, I would think Google would make it a priority to improve this area of Android/Google. Picasa was great. There was no need tio reinvent the wheel. Where is the outrage?
  • I don't trust instant upload to put stuff in the right places, so I manually upload pictures from the phone to Picasa via the Galley share function. You can select the album to which the picture or pictures will be uploaded. Press and hold to select multiple pictures. If that doesn't work for you, it's because of a credentialing bug. They may have fixed it, but if the bug is still breaking things, here's the fix: make sure your Google account is the only account credentialed with your Gmail address. For example, if you signed into the Facebook app with your Gmail address, it will break Picasa uploads. Delete the Facebook account in settings--accounts and sign back in with the email address Facebook gives you (the one no one ever uses, it will be something like [yourname] Once no account besides your Google account is using your Gmail address as the username, Picasa uploads should work at least for the Nexus devices.
  • There is an album in Picasa that I do not want to be synced to my phone. Is there a way to do that ?
  • I've been doing this for sometime. My fear is that Picasa gets the dreaded axe in Google's spring clean. There are a few more features which I like using in the Picasa that you just can't use in Google+
  • Thanks for this. That empty album had been driving me nuts.
  • this was a huge help!!! deleted a bunch of picasa albums that were showing up which i had no idea why. after i deleted them my instant upload's started breaking themselves up into folders based on date which drove me nuts. i had to delete like 20+ albums one by one to clear them out
  • How the hell do we remove music album art from the stock Gallery? It's driving me nuts. The ".nomedia" trick is not working on my N4.
  • Thank god for this article, what a lifesaver!! Thank-you!
  • This is what worked for me to delete photos from instanT upload on my phone..from menU selecT applications, selecT manage apps, selecT All, selecT gallery and then selecT clear will only delete photos in the instant upload file and will not delete your otheR photos
  • Awesome tip for clearing Google+ deleted photos from your device. Works like a charm and in fact auto-resyncs from the cloud w/in minutes, sans crappy images you've deleted in G+!
    @TIP long-tap on gallery, choose App info and go from there - alot quicker than above.
  • How do you delete pictures from google ?
  • I don't have a picasa account nor the picasa app on my android 4.2 tablet. I don't have duplicate folders or albums, but find duplicate pictures and lots of blank spaces between pictures in my albums. I manually delete, but they show up again days or weeks later. Why?
  • I have been trying to delete this "instant upload" album in my gallery for a long time now. I already deleted the photos and albums on google+ as well as on picasa web, and turned off and restarted my phone afterwards and its still there. I even deleted my google+ account and it's still there. The only thing i have not tried is clearing all data in my gallery from my settings, I'm worried if i do that it will delete all my pictures from all my albums, and i only want to delete the instant upload album. The phone i have is an android warped from boost, i think it's the first android they got, but i could be wrong. Can someone please help me out. Thanks.
  • THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH!! ugh i was having so much trouble and this helped a lot!
  • I was really hopeful this would help but i just got an internal server error message when I tried to delete the folders. And they all still appear on my phone. Any ideas what I am doing wrong? Thanks
  • On the Galaxy S5, you can remove those awful duplicate Picassa photos and albums an easier way: Go to Settings>Accounts>Google, and scroll down to unclick the Picassa button.
    Then go to Settings>App Manager>All>Gallery, and click Clear Cache, Clear Data, and Force Stop Head back to Gallery and POOF! Nice and clean without losing any pictures. Hope that helps. BTW, I just joinrf this forum after using it about 20 times and was delighted to get to "prove I'm human" by watching an advertisement video for Big Oil.
  • Why won't it allow me to delete the album? I'll click on Delete album, but nothing happens.
  • Were you ever able to delete it I see that this was two months ago
  • I followed the link that you gave us and it won't even give me the option to delete I have over 50 blank albums on my phone I can't take anymore pictures
  • See my issue is the photos have their duplicates when I open whatsapp or Facebook library and this has all happened after I updated Google+ and Google photos app where I turn the back up on..however there is no such duplicate in my device gallery and file manager... So now what I do