Have you ever seen a picture of some really cool sports equipment, power tool, or new car but can’t find out more about it? Maybe the picture isn’t clear or has been taken from a number of sources and run through the web. If this happened to you, you probably just forgot about it and moved on. However, with today’s modern technology you never have to experience this problem again. It’s time to popularize the concept of the reverse search engine.
What are Reverse Image Search Engines?
Reverse image search engines are a special search engine (like Google or Bing) that doesn’t require a keyword to turn up pictures. Instead, you search the picture, and other similar images are returned. It’s exactly what it sounds like… works like Google in reverse!
I bet you’re thinking about how cool this sounds. Why have you never heard of it? Most people haven’t and the vast majority remains unaware of the many uses and powers of the reverse search engine. Even relatively unpublicized and unknown, there are many providers that offer exceptional services.
How to Use Reverse Search Engines
Reverse image search is under-appreciated and very much underrated. Besides not knowing about it, those who do often prefer the familiar regular search engine. They may see the reverse engine as unnecessary. However, there are several cases where the reverse engine will come in handy.
Finding Similar Images
Say you’ve taken a picture or even found one on the web that you really like. Maybe you want to find other images very similar to it, but don’t want to weed through what a run of the mill Google search may turn up. There will likely be many irrelevant images. Turn to the reverse image search engine!
A blogger, social media manager, artist, or photographer will frequently have these problems. A “similar image” section is very important in the lives of these professionals. By applying the correct filters, you will find the most precise results with one of the engines below.
Alternatively, the image you found might be perfect! But it’s terrible quality. I myself have experienced this problem more times than I can count, and you probably have too. Instead of finding a new image, try the reverse search! The engines will often turn up higher quality versions of the same picture you searched if they exist.
Figure Out the Unknown
Like in the opening example, there are many times when you want to know more about a picture you’ve found. Need more proof? Let’s say you’ve found a headset you really like the look of. But what does it do, how much does it cost, where can you get it?
Perform a simple reverse search. More pictures of the headset will show up. You will also be able to see where the images were posted; chances are that the person or company posting them will have the information you need.
Girls: have you ever loved a dress that someone had on and asked where they got it, only to be told: “I don’t know, my mom bought it for me” or “I don’t really remember?” It’s so frustrating! Pull out your phone, take a picture of the dress or outfit, and run a reverse search. You’ll find it and have one just like it in no time.
Bust False Rumors
As much as we love social media, we hate it because anyone can post anything they want. It’s annoying, it causes problems, and there’s a lot of false information being spread. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, but what does this have to do with reverse images?
Have you ever bought something that turned out to look nothing like it was supposed to? Have you ever believed something only to find out that it was photoshopped or a picture was mislabeled? Probably so.
If you come across a shocking image and a caption that seems misleading or unreasonable, an image search can help you determine credibility. Now you can verify news, avoid Craigslist scams, and figure out if a site is legit or not.
If you are a professional photographer, graphic designer, or have some other line of work that is heavily image based then you understand how important it is to have a strong and prevalent presence on social media. Maybe your job requires you to create and publish frequent info graphics that you don’t want taken.
The reverse image search is the smartest and easiest way to find out if your images are being plagiarized or used without your consent!
Best Ways to Reverse Search an Image
Now that you’re convinced of the powers of reverse searching; let me tell you where to start! These are the webs best reverse search engines to date.
As Google is the most widely popular search engine; they also nail the reverse search engine. Google Images made its way to the game 15 years ago to allow users to search for images. Currently, they have a larger database than any similar site.
Just 4 years ago they released their reverse search capabilities. Upload an image from your computer, paste the link to an image in the search bar, or drag and drop the image to the search bar. Each method works efficiently and allows Google to find pictures of similar color, size, shape, and resolution.
Better yet, it’s completely free and there are no size restrictions on the files! You can use an image of any file type. With all of these perks and Google’s enormous database, the likelihood of turning up a match is very high.
Currently, the mobile site does not allow the reverse image search. But a third party tool bypasses the limits and will allow you to use it on a mobile phone or tablet. Click here to discover.
Note: It’s not necessary to go to the Google Images site while using Google Chrome. Instead, simply right click on the image and then select “Search Google for this Image.”
Bing Image Match
As another popular search engine, Bing can also be expected to have a rival option. They came out with their version, called “Bing Image Match,” in 2014.
Upload your own image or add it via hyperlink. A very recent update (a few months old) allows the engine to work as an iOS app. Using the app, you can take a photo and find similar ones. Check for availability, as it is limited to only certain countries.
Pinterest Visual Search Tool
Pinterest is a social platform that exists based on only images. As a result, the company has since developed the most advanced reverse image technology. As of 2015 you can reverse search all pins (images) listed on the site.
What’s amazing about this tool is that you don’t even have to search for the whole image! You can zoom into a particular part and crop the search to this smaller image. Your results will turn up images visually similar to only the cropped part.
I can imagine a world of instances where this is useful. Maybe you want to search for just the shoes of an outfit, the table from a living room scene, or one supply of a crafting supply list image.
Note: you must have a Pinterest account to use the tool. But, it’s completely free and totally worth it.
TinEye comes from the Canadian company Idee Inc. It’s the most popular reverse search engine today. Over 14 billion images have been indexed on the site!
This is probably because TinEye claims to be the first website ever to use image identification technology. Make use of it by uploading an image or providing its link. It does have some limitations: only JPG, PNG, and GIF formats are supported, and size is limited to 20 MB. People and objects will not be recognized, only the picture as a whole.
This is potentially the best engine to search for stolen or copyrighted material. It also offers extensions for the major browsers such as Safari and Firefox.
It’s free for the first 150 searches a week. If you need more use, invest in the paid version for $200 a year.
Yandex is the largest search engine used in Russia. Upload the image directly or by URL. Additionally, you can filter search results by file size. It’s completely free and runs expertly.
If you happen to be using Yandex as a browser, run the search by right clicking on an image and then select “search for this image on Yandex.”
Image Raider is an honorable mention. However, it can’t be compared to some of the other previously mentioned sites. Their end results are derived from Google, Bing, and Yandex, so it’s essentially a third party. It’s worth comes from a few other features.
For example, it save an immense amount of time by letting you search up to 20 images at once! If you want to run a search for multiple images, this is definitely the engine to use. There are also extensive ways to input images including via URL, direct upload, add a picture from an XML sitemap, getting images from sites like DevianArt and Flickr, or adding the URL of a page and letting it recognize all the images from the page.
This engine works for Reddit, and if you frequent Reddit this is a great tool for you. Since Reddit users despise re-posts, save yourself from the backlash. Search for an image in all popular subreddits or refine and narrow your search.
Image Identify by Wolfram
This is not exactly an image reverse search tool. Instead, it’s a computer based image identification tool that recognizes your pictures through artificial intelligence. It was launched in 2015, but the current version seems to be just the beginning. The results you find to date may be subpar, but you can expect a lot more from this project.
Baidu is China’s biggest search engine. The site functions in the Chinese language so beware that you will have to translate. It’s worth mentioning, but I don’t suggest it unless you are well versed in the language.
Apps for reverse image searching
These search engines work well on the computer, but what about your mobile devices? Here are the best apps for performing reverse image searches by the device.
If you have an Android device, use Google Goggles. It’s an app from Google that allows you to search images instead of text. It has strong service, excellent results, and the powerful algorithms of other Google services.
For iOS users, turn to Veracity. There aren’t many apps available for iOS right now, and this is the best standout. It’s very easy to use. Choose images from your DropBox, Camera Roll, or Photo Library. Tap on it to see the results. It’s completely free! Opt to remove ads for the small price of $1.99. Alternatively, U.S. based users can make use of the previously mentioned app by Bing.
Those with a windows phone should use the app “Reverse Image Search.” Results arrive via the Google, Bing, TinEye or Yandex engines. Upload photos from your camera roll or by URL. As a bonus, you can crop the image before entering it.
Add-ons and Extensions
There are some add ons and extensions for the most popular browsers.
Google Reverse Image Search allows users to search from Google Images on Firefox. It’s a very useful and time saving add on. Similarly, “Who Stole My Pictures” is another Firefox add on. It’s pretty self explanatory, but you can right click on any picture and reverse search a variety of engines.
Search by Image is a great tool for Chrome users. It’s very simple and works by simply right clicking on the image. Bing Image Match is a convenient extension that displays the information within the same tab.
Tin Eye Reverse Image Search allows you to search for high-resolution images on Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Chrome.
The concept of reverse image searching may not be popular yet, but you can expect great results from these expert services.