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Google Photos suffered from a few problems in 2019 including core functionality that temporarily stopped working and the removal of a widely-used feature. Now, a frustrating issue from the end of last year seems to have returned.
The bug prevents some users from saving any edits to their recorded videos, and while a workaround is available, it currently requires a key space-saving video feature to be disabled. This will be particularly annoying to loyal Pixel users who now have to pay for full-resolution cloud storage on the Pixel 4 and will want to avoid any unnecessary increase in file sizes.
The problem occurs when attempting to edit videos shot using the H.265/HEVC codec, an option available on many Android handsets which results in smaller file sizes and thereby enabling users to shoot for longer without depleting precious device storage.
Users are unable to save their edits when using the H.265/HEVC option.
Users who have enabled this function have no problems shooting video, but attempting to save any subsequent edits made in Google Photos will fail with the message “Unable to save changes”.
The problem was first brought to light in October of last year in the official Google Photos Help forum and reportedly fixed a short time afterward. However, the problem now seems to have re-surfaced, affecting a wide range of smartphones.
For now, there are two ways to work around the problem: the first is to disable the HEVC codec and switch back to the less efficient H.264 option until the problem is fixed. Videos recorded in H.264 can be edited in Google Photos without issues but will take up more space on your device. This also doesn’t help users who have already recorded their H.265 videos and still need to edit them.
For now, the workaround is to disable the H.265/HEVC option.
The method for changing this option will vary from device to device (if the option is there at all), but on Pixel devices, you should first enter the advanced camera settings and then deselect ‘Store videos efficiently.’
The second option is to use an alternative app to edit your videos. Your smartphone may come with a manufacturer-installed option, such as the OnePlus Gallery app, or you can choose from many free options available in the Google Play store.
My hope is that Google fixes this issue promptly, especially at it seems to have already been fixed at one point. Perhaps the team has been too hard at work implementing a new video mode to notice that the issue has returned.