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On my Android phone, it has the option to upload high quality image for free unlimited space. From Google Support

High quality

Unlimited free storage.
Regular cameras: Recommended for phones or point-and-shoot cameras that are 16 megapixels (MP) or less.
Uses: Good for typical printing and sharing.
Size: Saves high-quality photos and videos while reducing size.

Original

Limited free storage: Uses storage in your Google Account, regardless of photo or video size.
DSLR cameras: Recommended if you take photos with a DSLR camera and want to maintain the exact original quality.
Uses: Recommended for printing large banners or to store original files.
Size: Stores your photos and videos exactly as you captured them.
If you use a Pixel phone, you get free unlimited storage at original quality. You won't be able to back up your photos and videos

in high quality.

My storage is almost full and it's almost all used by Google Photos (I thought it would be Google Drive, but it isn't). Is there a way to verify the photos being uploaded to Google Photos are not counting against the used space? Also, what is counted as using free space, does this include videos as well?

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Although Google Photos is taking up your storage, the photos probably show up under Google Drive in a special subfolder called Google Photos.

  1. Go to drive.google.com, click on Google Photos, and click on individual photos, you can open the information pane on the right and it will show "storage used". If it was uploaded as high quality, it will show 0 bytes for the storage used. This, of course, is not a very convenient way to determine and fix your issue for many files. See below.
  2. Videos also abide by this rule apparently: see this.

In November 2015 Google offered a way to convert already-uploaded Original Quality photos to High Quality to recover storage space. Click "Recover Storage" at this link.

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