Google Photos is awful to use thanks to Android 11 but here's how to make it better

Google Photos excessive delete prompts are annoying, but you can get rid of them

Google Photos
(Image credit: Google)

If your Android phone runs Android 11, and it isn't a Google Pixel handset, like the Google Pixel 4a 5G, then you may have noticed that Google Photos has just made deleting your pictures a lot more convoluted in an effort to bolster your security, but luckily, there's a workaround. 

Android 11's Scoped Storage is a means to stop apps from accessing files on your device willy nilly; instead it limits them to those files that are relevant to the apps. The move is intended to beef up security but has had an annoying effect on galleries, leading to excessive prompts when trying to delete media, as well as out-of-sync errors that pop up if you switch devices, asking you to confirm the changes you made on the other one. 

You're basically being bogged down in giving permission to, and confirming things, as your Android phone's gallery app doesn't get the same free pass as Google Photos does on a Pixel device. Default system apps are exempt in general from a lot of these measures, and you can set them up in your device's system settings; the bad news is that even though Android 11 has a default gallery app option, it's not something you'll be able to change. 

This is because smartphone manufacturers almost always lock the default gallery app as their own on their handsets, but there is a workaround if the prompt are starting to irk you.   

XDA Developers explains that this method only works if your Android smartphone has Google Photos pre-installed as a system app. Samsung smartphones like the Galaxy S21, or the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro didn't have much luck with it, but the website says it works on "most OnePlus and some ASUS phones."

This solution involves installing the Android Debug Bridge (ABD) command tool onto your PC, and entering the command:

adb shell cmd role add-role-holder android.app.role.SYSTEM_GALLERY com.google.android.apps.photos

If you don't get an error message, you're in business! Just try to delete a photo again to see if the annoying prompts have disappeared. 

This is probably too much to expect from most smartphone users, but if Android 11 and its scoped storage is driving you mad when it comes to your media, at least there's a workaround; albeit limited to certain models of phone.  

Source: XDA Developers