How does reverse image search work? Whether you’re a business owner, a marketer, or someone who is wondering about an image, it is often necessary to find the original source for an image or to see where an image appears on the web. Here is a list of the top eight best reverse image search tools and how to use them.
Regardless of your role on the marketing team, you likely work with images or graphics in some way, shape, or form. Often times finding the right image, identifying the original source, or determining usage rights requires a reverse image search before posting or sharing it or calling it your own.
The good news is that there are a handful of reliable and accurate reverse image lookup tools available. Some of these tools are ones you likely already use without realizing that these specific image search features and capabilities are available.
How Does a Reverse Image Search Work?
Before we dive into our list of search tools, let’s first explore how a reverse image search works.
Most image tools use various algorithms to scan and recognize photos based on size, shape, colors, and any other unique features and characteristics. Some image search tools are even designed with facial recognition, which is helpful for searching images or photos of specific people.
The process is actually quite simple: Most tools work by simply uploading an image in the search bar or copying and pasting the image URL in the search bar. Then, the search tool will search the web and database for where that specific image appears, the original source, and other relevant information.
With most of these tools, you can access their reverse image search functionality on a mobile device or on your desktop, though some are easier to use on one platform or another. In this list, we provide you with instructions on how to use each tool in the most common and easy way possible.
The Top 8 Reverse Image Search Tools:
1. Google Image Search
Google Image Search is probably the easiest and most popular image search tool — and is the primary go-to resource for many marketers. It helps you find the exact image, check the copyright, and also the size of the image. Google Image Search is super easy and totally free to use. (Bonus!)
How to reverse image search using Google Image Search:
- Upload an image from your computer
- Drop the image into a search bar
- Click “Search”
Unfortunately, you can only use the Google Image Search tool from a computer. It does not provide the option to upload images from mobile devices.
Important note about image usage rights
Additionally, an important note for any content creator is that while Google may do an excellent job of providing you with searches, the images that are served up for you are not necessarily copyright-free. Most will have copyrights, and to receive permission to use the images, you will need to contact the original owner of that image. Thankfully, with Google’s reverse image search or the seven other solutions highlighted below, finding where these images are used on the web for the purpose of identifying the original owner is easier than ever.
If you’re not sure whether or not you can use a given image due to image copyright concerns, you may want to consider creating an image of your own or using Creative Commons or stock photography sites.
2. Bing Image Search
The Bing Image Search tool was first introduced by Microsoft in March 2014. It was originally used as an image reverse search engine. Bing Visual Search is another very simple and easy-to-use image search tool and is compatible with any browser.
Marketers can use this tool to perform a reverse image look-up to see where certain images appear on the web. This is a great tool to use to see if your competitors are using any of your images or similar images.
How to reverse image search using Bing Image Search
- Upload an image from your computer, or copy and paste the image URL into the designated area.
- That’s it.
After uploading the image to the search bar, Bing Image Search will automatically perform the search. It will then provide you with search results and information related to:
- The web page(s) on the image appears
- Similar images
- Related searches
Bing did, in fact, release a mobile app in 2016; however, it is only compatible with Apple devices.
3. Yahoo Image Search
Yahoo Image Search works the same way as Google Image Search and Bing; however, many users claim the search results are different.
How to reverse image search using Yahoo Image Search:
- Select an image from your computer
- Upload it or drag and drop it into the search bar
- Click “Search”
4. Pinterest Visual Search Tool
Pinterest describes its visual search tool as a “crazy-fun image search tool.” First launched in 2015, the Pinterest Visual Search tool quickly became a favorite resource. For marketers who fall in love with an image that they find on an image search or while browsing through Pinterest, but aren’t sure of its source or what it’s called, the Pinterest Visual Search Tool is a must-try — even if you don’t use Pinterest on a regular basis.
How to reverse image search using the Pinterest Visual Search tool:
- Go to Pinterest.com or open the Pinterest app
- Click the search tool in the corner
- Select the image pin you want to search
Pinterest will then provide you with pins in which the image appears and also similar pins with similar images.
You can also filter your visual search results by topic to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. You can also zoom in on an image or select a specific part of the image to search.
How is Pinterest’s Visual Search tool different than Pinterest Lens?
Pinterest Lens, a feature of Pinterest that allows you to snap a picture of an item in the real world and then search the images of Pinterest for that item, utilizes what is known as image detection for identifying the item.
This is different from reverse image search, in theory, wherein it is looking for the same item in locations where that item could then be purchased instead of simply using an algorithm to detect the same or similar images already on the web. This is the main difference between Pinterest’s Visual Search Tool and Pinterest Lens.
5. Getty Images
Most marketers are familiar with Getty Images, a large and popular stock photo site. However, few are aware that in addition to searching for images and graphics, they can also use Getty Images to perform a reverse image lookup search.
How to reverse image search using Getty Images:
There are two ways to perform a reverse image lookup search using Getty Images:
1. Click the camera icon in the search box
2. Search by image keyword
3. Click “Search”
Depending on the type of image or keyword you search, you might get thousands, if not millions, of results. However, Getty Images also provides an auto-suggest feature to help filter and narrow down your search results.
Picsearch is another great reverse image lookup tool. It is described as an “innovative image search tool,” providing users with access to over three billion pictures! Although Picsearch looks similar to the other reverse image lookup tools we’ve noted in this article, it provides users with varied results.
Picsearch is best for marketers who are looking for interesting photos or images that are relevant to specific keywords. There is also an “Advanced Search” option that allows users to filter images by size, which can help marketers find the perfect photo that fits their website or social media header.
How to reverse image search using Picsearch:
There are three ways to perform a reverse image lookup search using Getty Images:
- Enter an image URL in the search bar
- Upload an image
- Search for a related or similar keyword
7. TinEye Reverse Image Search
TinSearch is a reverse image lookup tool provided by TinEye, which is an advanced image recognition tool that tracks where a user’s images appear on the web.
This tool is great for marketers who want to keep an eye on any images their competitors are using. It is also incredibly useful for photographers, graphic artists, or other content creators to see where their work is being used and where it appears on the web. Users can also set up alerts and notifications when one of their images or photos appears in a new location on the web.
How to reverse image search using TinSearch:
1. Enter an image URL in the search bar.
2. Upload an image.
Then, TinSearch does all the work… The results show you how long TinSearch spent searching the web, how many results were found, and then lists the image or photo and where it appears on the web.
What makes TinEye different from most other reverse image search tools?
TinEye powers its free reverse search image engine on its own API called MatchEngine. In providing the free service, they are continually feeding MatchEngine with new content for their own home-built algorithm to get smarter and better at image matching. Then, for a fee, TinEye provides a low-priced API to companies or researchers that may be interested in using their full-blown API for larger projects.
They provide you with access to their system through some simple API connectors to help you quickly identify duplicate or altered images, reconcile your image collection against others, or take other measures to ensure your image library is controlled and compliant in the way you want.
Reverse Image Search Tools That Will Make Your Day
In summary, most users and marketers may not be aware that these tools exist. As a result, many end up wasting time looking for specific images on the web, unsure of what to call them or where to find them.
It is helpful to check the source of each image and also see what other sites it might be affiliated with before using it. All in all, a reverse image search tool just might make a marketer’s day. Need help with your imagery, design, and/or content to support? Talk to a content strategist today regarding your content needs and goals.