Skip to main content

How to Build a Raspberry Pi-Powered Digital Photo Frame

Raspberry Pi-Powered Digital Photo Frame
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

A digital photo frame is a small screen that can sit on your desk in your office or in your kitchen displaying your favorite pictures, changing at regular intervals. The first commercial digital photo frame was introduced in the 1990s shortly after the digital camera. Digital photo frames made a comeback in popularity during 2020, perhaps because people were staying at home more.  

In this tutorial, we’ll turn our Raspberry Pi into a digital photo frame using MagicMirror and the GooglePhotos module. Please note, we will skip installation of the 2-way mirror in the original Magic Mirror project. Consider this project, “Magic Mirror, without the mirror.”

What You’ll Need

Timing: Plan for a minimum of 1 hour to complete this project. 

The majority of this tutorial is based on terminal commands. If you are not familiar with terminal commands on your Raspberry Pi, we highly recommend reviewing 25+ Linux Commands Raspberry Pi Users Need to Know first.  

Setting up Your Google Photos Album 

To get started with this project, you’ll need to set up a Google Photo Album. We suggest that you create a new Photo Album and add 5 to 10 photos.  You can add more photos later. The more photos in your album, the longer your Raspberry Pi digital photo frame will take to load. 

  1. On your preferred browsers on your existing laptop or desktop computer, navigate to https://photos.google.com/
  2. In the left menu column, click Albums.
  3. Click Create Album.
  4. Name your album something easy to remember. I recommend “MagicMirror” for your album name.
  5. Once you have created your album, add 5 to 10 photos to your MagicMirror photo album. You can drag and drop to upload new photos or select from your existing photos to add.

Basic Magic Mirror Install on Raspberry Pi 

1. Connect your screen, mouse and keyboard to your Raspberry Pi.

2. Boot your Raspberry Pi. If you don’t already have a microSD card see our article on how to set up a Raspberry Pi for the first time or how to do a headless Raspberry Pi install.

3. Update Raspberry Pi OS.  Open a terminal and enter:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4.  Perform a basic installation of Magic Mirror on our Raspberry Pi with the instructions from the official Magic Mirror page. The commands should execute fairly quickly with npm install taking the longest depending on your Raspberry Pi model and internet speed. On a Raspberry Pi 4 with high speed internet, npm install took approximately 5 minutes to execute. 

curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_10.x | sudo -E bash -
sudo apt install -y nodejs
git clone https://github.com/MichMich/MagicMirror
cd MagicMirror
npm install
cp config/config.js.sample config/config.js
npm run start

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Your Raspberry Pi screen should now be filled with the default Magic Mirror screen. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. Hit Ctrl-M to minimize and return to the Pi desktop.

6. Press Ctrl-C to stop Magic Mirror. This step is necessary to install the module that will show our Google Photos.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Google Photos Installation on Magic Mirror 

1.  In the Pi terminal, install the Google Photos module. 

cd ~/MagicMirror/modules
git clone https://github.com/eouia/MMM-GooglePhotos.git
cd MMM-GooglePhotos
npm install

2.  Open your Chromium browser and navigate to Google API Console. Login with your gmail account credentials. Full Link: https://console.developers.google.com/  

3. Create a new project with a name of your choice. I named my project ‘MagicMirror123’. 

4. Click ‘+ Create Credentials’ and select ‘OAuth client ID’.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. For Authorization Type, select ‘TVs and Limited Input devices’ from the dropdown menu 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

6.  Click ‘Create’ to create your OAuth client ID.  

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

7.  Click ‘OK’ to return to the main Credentials page for your project.  

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

8. On the OAuth 2.0 Client ID you just created, click the down arrow to download your credentials.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

9.  Open your File Manager from your Raspberry Pi desktop, navigate to Downloads and rename the file you just downloaded from ‘client_secret-x.json’ to ‘credentials.json’.  

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

10. Move your newly renamed ‘credentials.json’ file to your MagicMirror/modules/MMM-GooglePhotos folder.

11. In your Terminal, run the following command to authenticate your Pi.

cd ~/MagicMirror/modules/MMM-GooglePhotos
node generate_token.js

12. Select your account when Google prompts you to authorize your device. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

13.  Scroll down, click ‘Advanced’ and then ‘Go to MagicMirror (unsafe)’. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

14. Grant MagicMirror permissions on the following screens by clicking ‘Allow’ for each prompt.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

15. Copy your Success code and paste it into your terminal. Press Enter. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

16.  Open your File Manager and navigate to /home/pi/MagicMirror/modules/MMM-GooglePhotos or type ‘ls’ in your Terminal (within the MMM-GooglePhotos directory) to view all files. If you see token.json as a file within this folder, you have successfully authorized your device to access your Google Photos. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

17.  Open the config.js file for editing in the /home/pi/MagicMirror/config folder. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

18. In your config.js file, comment out all modules except for notifications by adding ‘/*’ before the Clock module and ‘*/’ after the Newsfeed module.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

19. Add the code for MMM-GooglePhotos into the modules section of your config.js file.

{
  module: "MMM-GooglePhotos",
  position: "fullscreen_above",
  config: {
		albums: ["MagicMirror"], // Set your album name. 
		updateInterval: 1000 * 60, // minimum 10 seconds.
		sort: "random", // "new", "old", "random"
		uploadAlbum: null, // Only album created by `create_uploadable_album.js`.
		condition: {
			fromDate: null, // Or "2018-03", RFC ... format available
			toDate: null, // Or "2019-12-25",
			minWidth: null, // Or 400
			maxWidth: null, // Or 8000
			minHeight: null, // Or 400
			maxHeight: null, // Or 8000
			minWHRatio: null,
			maxWHRatio: null,
		},
		showWidth: 800, // Set this to the resolution of your screen width
		showHeight: 480, // Set this to the resolution of your screen height 
		timeFormat: "YYYY/MM/DD HH:mm", // Or `relative` can be used.
  }
},

20.  In the config section of MMM-GooglePhotos, enter the name of the album you created at the beginning of this project in the ‘albums’ parameter. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

21. Set the order in which you wish to view your photos in the ‘sort’ parameter. 

  • New = latest images will display first 
  • Old = images will display from oldest to newest 
  • Random = images will display in random order

22. Set the frequency to change the images in the ‘updateInterval’ parameter. The default is 60 seconds. 

23. Set the resolution of the screen that you are using in the parameters ‘showWidth’ and ‘showHeight’. The default resolution for the 7” Raspberry Pi screen is 800 x 480.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

24. Save your changes in config.js. 

25. In your terminal, run the command ‘npm run start’ to restart your Magic Mirror. There will be a 30 second or more delay while your Pi pulls images from your Google Photos album. Your Pi will need to stay connected to the internet to display your images.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

26. To stop Magic Mirror, press Ctrl-M followed by Ctrl-C in the terminal. You can continue to make adjustments in your config.js file until you are happy with the way that your images are displayed. 

27. At this point, you can start adding more images to your Google Photos album. Your Raspberry Pi Magic Mirror digital photo frame should automatically update with any new images. 

Launch Magic Mirror on Boot 

If you reboot your Pi, you’ll need to enter the command ‘npm run start’ each time you want to start your digital photo frame. Let’s set our Raspberry Pi to display our digital photo frame on boot. 

1. Install PM2 by running the following commands in your Raspberry Pi terminal. PM2 is a daemon process manager to keep your applications running continuously. In this project we will utilize PM2 to continuously run Magic Mirror for our digital photo frame.

sudo npm install -g pm2
pm2 startup

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

2. Your terminal will provide the next command. Copy and paste the command into your terminal. 

sudo env PATH=$PATH:/usr/bin /usr/lib/node_modules/pm2/bin/pm2 startup systemd -u pi --hp /home/pi

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

3.  Create a shell script named mm.sh. 

cd ~
nano mm.sh

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4.  Within mm.sh enter the commands to start Magic Mirror. 

cd ./MagicMirror
DISPLAY=:0 npm start

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. Press Ctrl-X to exit, ‘y’ to Save mm.sh, and Enter to return to the Terminal. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

6.  Make mm.sh an executable file with the chmod command. 

chmod +x mm.sh

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

7.  Start your Magic Mirror with PM2. 

pm2 start mm.sh

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Your Magic Mirror should automatically start running again. You can test your auto start functionality with a reboot now. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Disable Screen Blanking 

You may find that after setting up your automatic digital photo frame that your Raspberry Pi screen goes blank after 10 minutes. In this case, you can disable screen blanking.

1. Navigate to the Raspberry Pi Configuration menu. From your Raspberry Pi start menu, click ‘Preferences’ and select ‘Raspberry Pi Configuration’. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

2. Toggle Screen Blanking to Disable on the Display tab. Select the ‘Display’ tab. For ‘Screen Blanking’ select Disable. Click OK. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

3. Click Yes when you are prompted to Reboot.  

  • ad9fd
    Admin said:
    In this project, we’ll build a digital photo frame with our Raspberry Pi with photos updating dynamically from Google photos.

    How to Build a Raspberry Pi-Powered Digital Photo Frame : Read more
    This would undoubtedly be a good learning exercise. However with the 7 inch screen it uses costing £77 but a new 7 inch digital photo frame costing only £27 on ebay the main learning experience is that buying is often a better option than building.
    Reply
  • torbjorn.lindgren
    ad9fd said:
    This would undoubtedly be a good learning exercise. However with the 7 inch screen it uses costing £77 but a new 7 inch digital photo frame costing only £27 on ebay the main learning experience is that buying is often a better option than building.
    Yeah, both of those have ABYSMAL resolution, specifically 800x480!
    1990's called and wanted their crappy screens back! :)
    The original author should be ashamed of suggesting building a photo frame with a 7"/800x480 display, I would consider that resolution a the very best marginal even for a 5" display.
    But.. that just reinforces that from an economics point it makes very little sense given that you can get a 7" photoframe with 1920x1080 resolution (including shipping) for less than the 7"/800x480 display, never mind the other components!
    Reply
  • kellyhirano
    Admin said:
    In this project, we’ll build a digital photo frame with our Raspberry Pi with photos updating dynamically from Google photos.

    How to Build a Raspberry Pi-Powered Digital Photo Frame : Read more

    The instructions miss a pretty key item from the MMM-GooglePhotos docs under "Get token.js" on https://github.com/ChrisAcrobat/MMM-GooglePhotos#get-auth-and-albumid
    Between your steps 3 and 4, you need to enable the Google Photos Library API, otherwise the OAuth creds won't allow access to those APIs and you end up with a 403 in your log (viewable by pm2 log).
    Reply
  • Grifi74
    kellyhirano said:
    The instructions miss a pretty key item from the MMM-GooglePhotos docs under "Get token.js" on https://github.com/ChrisAcrobat/MMM-GooglePhotos#get-auth-and-albumid
    Between your steps 3 and 4, you need to enable the Google Photos Library API, otherwise the OAuth creds won't allow access to those APIs and you end up with a 403 in your log (viewable by pm2 log).
    Thank you for the post. It really helps.
    Reply