Find that Image!
It is now common knowledge to search up something when we don’t know what it is. I can’t tell you how many times I have been unsure of something and I hear the phrase “Google it” or “look it up on the internet.” This trend is extraordinarily common with the prevalence of the Internet now, and yet, many people still have problems when trying to search up images. There might be a picture of a game or a car that you might want to read more about but it seems impossible to discern what you are looking at. People generally give up at that point if only because they are not aware of reverse image search engines.
What is a Reverse Image Search Engine?
Reverse image search engines do not require a keyword to find pictures, but instead operate by searching for a picture like the one you entered. All you usually need to do is copy and paste the picture for it to search, and just one picture will give you everything you need. The problem, however, is that these reverse image search engines really have not had a desirable impact, or even much of an impact at all. Almost 70% of Internet users have never heard of the service due to lack of publicity. More than the lack of publicity though, a lot of people simply do not find this tool all that necessary, and therefore overlook it entirely.
Common Search Engines
Despite the fact that there has not been a lot of publicity about reverse image search engines, many websites do have some great services to offer, including:
- Google Images
- Bing Image Match
- Karma Decay
- Pinterest Visual Search Tool
- Image Identify by Wolfram
- Image Raider
There are even reverse image searches on smartphones using the assistance of apps, but let’s go back to explore some of the best reverse image search engines the internet has to offer.
The Best Services
Google Images is widely used to search images, although it was not until June 2011 when reverse image search was introduced by uploading an image from your computer or pasting the link of your image within the search bar. You can even drag and drop the image into the search bar.
- Google Images is completely free to use, there is no limit on the size of the file or the type, and it has the largest number of images indexed to increase the chances of finding a match to your search.
- Unfortunately, this same service is not provided on Google Images’ mobile site, as you can’t upload an image or provide a link.
- If you have Google Chrome, you don’t need to even visit Google Images; just right click on the image you want to search and click “search Google for this image.”
Despite Google Images’ popularity, TinEye was the first website to use the image identification technology. To use it, you simply have to upload your image or provide the link before searching for similar images.
- It does have a limit to the upload size at 20MB though, and only supports JPEG, PNG, and GIF images.
- It is extremely useful in looking for copyrighted or stolen images.
- You can even search an image by color with TinEye’s Multicolor Engine.
Bing joined the party in March 2014 with “Bing Image Match,” where you can upload the image or add it with a hyperlink before Bing returns matching results. It is simple, although said to not be as efficient as Google Images or TinEye.
- Bing very recently brought this service to its iOS app as well, allowing you to snap a photo to find similar images. The only problem is unavailability in many countries.
Yandex is actually Russia’s largest search engine, but it can work for you by just inputting the URL of an image of uploading it. This search engine was mostly developed to track duplicate images and works free and without hassle.
Karma Decay is a search engine exclusively for Reddit, meant to stop re-posting on Reddit. It will search for the image in all popular subreddits, but can be limited too if need be.
The Pinterest Visual Search Tool had to be the most advanced reverse image search tool when it was announced in November 2015. Unlike other search engines that force you to search the whole image, this engine allows you to search for specific pieces in the image by zooming in and clicking.
- To use this service, you must have an account on Pinterest and then Pin the image.
Image Identify isn’t necessarily a reverse image search engine, although it does still work to identify images just by looking at them. It was launched in May of 2015 as part of The Wolfram Language Image Identification Project, utilizing artificial intelligence to try and compete with humans identifying images. This service is certainly not very refined yet, but it is assumed that it will improve in time.
Image Raider isn’t like Google Images or Bing, but there are some noticeable features. More than one image can be searched at a time (up to 20!), saving a lot of time in your searches. There are also multiple options for image uploading rather than just an upload or URL, such as:
- Adding the image from XML
- Add the URL
- Add directly from Flickr, DevianArt, or 500px
This tool specifically is very helpful for finding images of your work published without permission or proper attribution, with fairly accurate, if a little slow, searches.
Yandex was from Russia, but Baidu is from China. After making sure to translate the page from Chinese, you can use it to search, but it might be less worth it considering you would have to do this every time. The results are unfortunately not as accurate either.
Why Use Reverse Image Search?
Now that we have gone over all of the available options for reverse image search, it would make sense to ask the question: why use image search in the first place? There are a couple common uses for this service, mainly being:
- To find similar images
- To know more about things you only have pictures of, like maybe a shirt you would like to buy for yourself
- To find false rumors and search the credibility of images
- To gain some insights on your own work, like if you’re a professional photographer and would like to check plagiarism
Ultimately, the reverse image search tool had many positive uses, and there are many options available for anyone looking for an unidentifiable image. All it takes is usually a few simple clicks to find whatever you might be looking for.