Here’s how to view your smartphone pictures anywhere for free

  • You can view your smartphone photos anywhere.
  • Google Photos lets you store high-res photos for free
  • There are a ton of features we'll walk you through
CNBC Tech: Google Photos
Todd Haselton | CNBC

If you're snapping pictures with your smartphone, whether it's an iPhone or an Android device, you should be using Google Photos to back them up.

It's the best solution, by far, and works across platforms so you can open and view your photos whether you're on a computer, a tablet or a smartphone. Even better, it's free unless you want to store pictures that are greater than 16MP (most smartphones don't go higher than that, so no worries.) It even automatically stores free 1080p video.

Google Photos is loaded with fun and unique features that add to the pleasure of flipping through old vacation pictures, and has the best search options on the market. We'll walk you through setup and how to use some of those features now.

Download the Google Photos app from the Google Play Store or the iTunes App Store on your smartphone. If you have Android, it's probably pre-installed.

CNBC Tech: Google Photos app
Todd Haselton | CNBC

Log in with a Google Account and choose the option to automatically back-up images.

Your smartphone photos will automatically upload. Now let's see what you can do with Google Photos, and what makes it the best.

CNBC Tech: Google Photos Setup
Todd Haselton | CNBC

Google Photos lets you search for all sorts of things.

I'm using the Web version so it's easier to see. A search for "dog" returned pictures of dogs that I've snapped, Most are of my dachshund Mabel.

CNBC Tech: Google Photos dog
Todd Haselton | CNBC

You can even search seemingly obscure things, like "Christmas" for pictures from the holidays

CNBC Tech: Google Photos Christmas
Todd Haselton | CNBC

Or an activity like golf

CNBC Tech: Google Photos Golf
Todd Haselton | CNBC

Google Photos automatically creates albums for your trips.

See how it has auto-created albums for "Trip to Seattle" and "Weekend in Washington," for example.

CNBC Tech: Google Photos Shared Albums
Todd Haselton | CNBC

If you click a picture and tap the info button, you can see where it was snapped, the camera you used and the settings that were applied

CNBC Tech: Google Photos info
Todd Haselton | CNBC

If you tap edit, you can crop, apply filters or make brightness/color changes right from your phone or Web browser.

CNBC Tech: Google Photos filters
Todd Haselton | CNBC

An "Assistant" page takes the photos you upload and automatically creates movies, "stylized photos" with effects, GIFs and more.

Checking this page always yields a surprise from your uploads.

CNBC Tech: Google Photos Assistant
Todd Haselton | CNBC

The Assistant tab also lets you manually create your own collages, movies, albums and animated photos.

CNBC Tech: Google Photos Collage
Todd Haselton | CNBC

You can also create a shared album with anyone, who can use Google Photos to upload their own images to the album.

CNBC Tech: Google Photos Shared Albums
Todd Haselton | CNBC

You can even create hard and soft cover photo books, which start at $9.99 and $19.99, respectively

Handout: Google Photos book

That's just a sampling of what you can do with Google Photos. Explore the app on your smartphone, tablet or computer to take full advantage of everything. And, better yet, you'll always have these photos, even if you upgrade to a new smartphone.