Ever stumbled upon a really awesome picture of a new car or bike, you’re unaware of? And you desire to read more about it but can’t, as you don’t know what is it or the monogram is not clearly visible in the picture. Well then, at these times, most of us do nothing but give up. We are not really aware of the reverse image search engines.
Reverse image search engines are those special kind of search engines where you don’t need to input any keyword to find pictures. Instead, you have to put a picture and the engine finds the images similar to one you entered. Thus, you can get to know everything you wish to, just with the help of one picture. But, as accustomed, reverse image lookup engines haven’t been able to make the desirable impact in this era of internet. Half of the netizens, well let’s be fair, almost 70% people are still unknown to this service. But, this doesn’t mean that these web services are not up to the mark but there has been lack of publicity which led reverse search engines to the virtual pariah. Moreover, very less people find that tool necessary and thus they have been overlooking it since its inception.
But then, nevertheless, let’s talk about some of the best options we have in this category.
8 Best Reverse Image search engines
Google images is a widely used website to search images. Introduced 15 years ago, Google images have the largest database than most of the other sites. In June 2011, Google Images introduced the feature of reverse image search. The mechanism of reverse photo search here is via uploading an image from your computer or pasting the link of the image in the search bar itself, it works equally well both ways, or you can simply drag and drop the image in search bar. Google images use algorithms based on various attributes like shape, size, color and resolution to get the similar pictures.
Google images is completely free to use, there is no limit on file size or file type, and it certainly has the largest number of images indexed so, the possibility of finding a match is extremely high.
Google images’ mobile site doesn’t let you perform reverse image search as there’s no option to upload or provide a link to an image. All you can do is search an image with the help of text. However, there’s a third party tool that lets you do it on mobile and tablets. Here it is.
Pro Tip: If you are using Google Chrome than you don’t even need to visit Google images’ site. All you have to do is right click on the image you want to search for, and then click ‘search Google for this image’.
TinEye is a product of Idee Inc., a Toronto based company. It has been the most popular and widely used reverse search engine till date with 13.9 billion images indexed. TinEye, as per their claims is the first website ever to use the image identification technology. To use this service, you have to upload the desired image or provide its link and command the tool to hunt for similar pictures. TinEye supports JPEG, PNG and GIF images, and the upload size is limited to 20 MB. TinEye doesn’t recognize the persons or objects in the picture, but it recognizes the entire picture as a whole. It can also be used to track down illegal use of copyrighted images or the stolen ones. Thus, a very useful search engine. Plus, it has browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Safari which is great if you are regular user of such services.
TineEye’s free version allows up to 150 searches a week. If you wish to exceed search limit and want to experience advanced features of TinEye, you’ll have to opt for its paid version starting at $200/year.
Apart from that, TinEye Lab features a Multicolor Engine that extracts color from 20 million royalty free creative commons images from Flickr, which makes these images searchable by color. I tried Multicolor engine myself and it works like a charm. It’s indeed a step ahead in the technological accomplishment. You can check it out for yourself, here.
In March 2014, Microsoft’s very own search engine Bing came up with its very own reverse photo search tool dubbed ‘Bing Image Match‘. The user can either upload the image or add it using the hyperlink and Bing will return the matching search results. It’s as simple as any of its rival search engines. However, the search results weren’t as satisfying as Google Images or TinEye.
In a recent update (May, 2016), Bing brought its reverse image search capability in its iOS app. All you have to do is take a photo using the Bing app and it finds the similar images. Simple as that! One thing that limits this app is its un-availability in many countries.
Yandex, Russia’s largest search engine also has a reverse photo search tool of its own. Yandex images lets you input the image via URL or by uploading directly from the computer. You can also filter search results by file size (Large, Medium, Small). Yandex developed this search engine to track duplicate images. It’s a hassle free reverse image search engine without the need of signing up, totally free and works smoothly.
If you are using Yandex browser, you can easily run the search for any image on almost any website by right clicking on it and then hitting ‘search for this image on Yandex’.
5. Karma Decay
Karma Decay is a reverse photograph search engine exclusively for Reddit. It’s a very handy tool to save yourself from re-posting the same content again on Reddit because Redditors do not like re-posts at all. Though, it searches for the image in all popular subreddits but if you want to limit the search to a particular subreddit, you can do that too. A simple and useful tool exclusively for Redditors.
Pinterest visual search tool is by far the most advanced reverse image technology ever developed. Announced in November 2015, the feature lets you search for visually similar images (as pins). Unlike other reverse image lookup tools where you had no choice but to search for the whole image, here you can zoom within a particular image and drag the zoom tool over the specific part in the Pin and search for it. You’ll see visually similar search results to the focused part only, almost instantly.
If you are an avid Pinterest user, this feature might come in handy for you in situations where you come across something interesting on Pinterest, but don’t really know what it’s called. You can simply run a search using the visual search tool, and find out more about it. The feature works on the web version as well as on Android and iOS apps.
Note: For you to run a reverse image search on Pinterest, first you’ll have to create an account on it and then Pin the image from your account. Once it’s done, you can use the visual search tool to find similar images from Pinterest’s database. Quite handy right?
Image Identify is not exactly a reverse image search engine, it’s an image identification tool that tries to compete with intelligence of humans when it comes to identifying images by looking at them. Launched in May 2015, Image Identify is a part of The Wolfram Language Image Identification Project and it seems to be just the beginning and there’s a lot more you can expect from this tool.
Though, Image Identify is certainly one of the best example of Artificial Intelligence put to use but it’s not perfect yet. I tried searching a couple of images and the results were below average. However, it’ll improve with time as it learns from users.
8. Image Raider
Image Raider is another reverse image lookup engine worth mentioning. Though, you can’t compare it with Google Images because it uses Google, Bing and Yandex search results to provide end results. But there are some additional features which makes this tool noticeable. Image Raider lets you input more than one image at a time, which means you can run a multi reverse image search (up to 20 images at a time) by using this tool. Hence, it saves a lot of time.
Secondly, unlike other picture finder tools where you have only two options for imputing images (via URL or by directly uploading from the computer), here you have multiple options for providing input image:
- Add image from XML sitemap
- Add URL of a page and this tool will fetch all the images from that page and use them as input for running the search.
- You can simply add images directly from your Flickr, DevianArt or 500px account.
If you are a designer or a photographer then you can use this tool to track websites where your work has been published without your permission or without proper attribution. Accuracy of search results is satisfactory and interface is easy to understand but it’s pretty slow when it comes to processing search results.
China’s biggest search giant Baidu also offers the feature to search from an image. The site opens up in Chinese language so the first thing you’ll have to do is to translate it to the language of your choice. It might not sound like a big issue, but imagine yourself doing the same every time you open the site, it’ll not be worth it. Unless, you have working proficiency of Chinese language, I wouldn’t suggest you to go with this tool. Also, the results are not as accurate as provided by other search engines.
Here is how to do reverse image search on mobile and smartphone with the help of apps
Reverse image search on Android
- Google Goggles (app)
Goggles Goggles is a really good app from Google that let’s you find images by giving an input image instead of text. What makes this app stand out from others is it’s lucid interface, amazing service, high quality results and smart algorithm implemented in searching.
Reverse image search on iPhone
- Veracity (app)
When it comes to iPhone, there aren’t many apps available for reverse image search. Veracity shines among all because it is extremely easy to use, works well and returns satisfactory results. It lets you choose images from Camera Roll, Photo Library or Dropbox. Once you choose the image to be searched, tap on it and it’ll show you the matching results. Simple as that!
The app is completely free but if you want to remove ads off it, make an in app purchase of $1.99.
Update: If you are based in the US, you can make use of Microsoft’s official Bing App for iOS as it lets you perform reverse image search.
Reverse image search on Windows Phone
- Reverse Image Search (app)
It is one of the finest app on the windows platform for reverse image search. It allows you to use your favorite search engines viz Google, Bing, TinEye or Yandex. You can also upload photos from your camera or album or by URL. This app also provide an additional opportunity of cropping the image before entering it into the search box.
Add-ons / Extensions for Prominent Browsers
- Google Reverse Image Search (Firefox)
It allows you to search relative images from the large database of Google Images. It’s quite useful as an add-on as it saves your significant amount of time.
- Who stole my pictures? (Firefox)
This Firefox Add-on lets you search for an image on a variety of reverse image search engines, which includes Yandex, Tineye, Google Images and VK.com. All you have to do is to right click on any picture and you can run a query for it on the search engine of your choice.
- Search by Image for Google (Chrome)
Search by Image is a very simple tool. All you’ve to do is right click on the image, then the tool gathers all its information from the source and allows you to search similar images or provides you same image in higher resolution.
- Bing Image Match (Chrome)
Bing Image Match is an official Chrome extension by Bing. Its working is a bit more convenient than its counterparts as it doesn’t open the search results in a newer tab, rather it displays information as an overlay page within the same tab. Give it a try!
- TinEye Reverse Image Search (Plugin)
TinEye plugin comes with a context menu item that allows you to search for an image, provides its source, its type of uses, modified versions and higher resolution versions. It is available for Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera.
Well, though there are so many services that offer reverse image search, the concept itself is not so popular. People may be aware about it, but not it’s uses and applications. And clearly they have no idea about how searching by image is one of the most useful services on internet.
Prominent uses of Reverse Image Search
Find Similar Images
Very frequently you are in need of similar images of any image but you’ve no idea about what to enter as a search query. Or even after doing so, the normal search engine sometimes show irrelevant results. In these scenarios, reverse image search engines prove to be of great help.
For instance, a blogger or a social media manager, who is in need of a similar image can use this service to get best results. You can apply the desired filters and get more precise results. Sometimes you can also find the high resolution versions of the same picture you entered as a search query. Moreover, from the bloggers’ point of view, similar images section is an important one, as they can find different sizes of an image. Thus, it prove to be of great use professionally.
Know Unknown Things
There’d be many instances where you’d want to know more about the things you only have pictures of. For example let’s say, you like a particular gadget and you’ve no information about it. Then, you can use reverse image search to solve your query. All you’ve to do is snap the pic of that gadget and carry out a search. You’ll get variety of similar images and the web places they’re taken from. You can head over there to check out more information of that gadget.
Similarly, if you like the shirt, one of your friend is wearing and you wish to have one for yourself, then you can carry out a similar image search. The pictures in search results will redirect you to the websites selling that particular shirt.
False rumour alert
One of the several things that malign the social media is it is often used to spread false rumours and baseless information. Many such cases happen every day that spread discontent among the people as a result. But, if you want to be bit careful, reverse image search engines can help you.
So next time you find a dubious image with a surprising caption, do carry out a reality check on the search engines that lets you search by an image to find its credibility. This way, you can stop all the wrong content from getting viral. You can also use this service to find out if the particular social media profile is fake or a genuine one. Also, these tool comes in handy in situations where we need to verify a news, or for exposing craigslist scams.
Gaining insights of your work
The service can also be helpful in providing insights of your work.
Suppose, you’re a professional photographer with a good presence on social media and you upload your photos on regular basis. Then you can use this service to check out if your content is being plagiarised or used without your consent. The search result will redirect you to all the websites that have uploaded this image, this giving you complete information about your photographs.
Alternatively, if you’re a technical person and you upload several infographics as a part of your work, you can use this service to track down illegal use your images. You can easily find out if your images are being used without crediting you or giving the backlinks and thus take necessary action against these activities.
So, this was out list of some of the best reverse image search services and their prominent uses. But if we missed out on anything or for any suggestions, do drop in your comments.