How to Reverse Image Search from Your Desktop or Phone

Ashley_Buckwell
edited August 2023 in PC Tech

Image search is the ability to do a keyword search and find images related to what you typed. Most search engines offer image results, which can be very convenient. But what if you have an image and want to know its origin or find similar images? That is when you need a reverse image search.

What is a reverse image search?

Reverse image search is a powerful query technique used for content-based image retrieval. The technique involves providing a search system with a sample image, which serves as the basis for the search. A sample image can be incredibly useful for information retrieval purposes, as it eliminates the need for users to guess at keywords or terms that may or may not yield accurate results for what they are trying to find. The defining feature of reverse image search is the lack of a need to provide any search terms, which makes the technique simple and convenient for users to find related content, discover manipulated versions and derivative works of images, and even gauge the popularity of an image.

Why would you use a reverse image search? 

Some of the use-cases where you can utilize reverse image search tools are as follows: 

  • Find similar pictures: If you have a certain photo that you love and want to find other similar images, a reverse image search may be more effective than a normal keyword search for locating similar images. You do not need to refine search terms when using an image for your search.
  • Find out the source of an image: If you have received a picture and want to know where it came from originally, a reverse image search will give you as much information as possible about where it was first uploaded to the Internet.
  • Identify a person or get a person’s contact details: If you have lost touch with someone, a reverse image search can be performed to locate information about them by finding images that match that person on various websites, social media accounts, and public forums.
  • Mobile image recognition: Connect the physical world to the digital using image recognition: if you are out and about and see something that you would like to know more about, you can take a photo of it and do a reverse image search to locate similar images, and then get information about those similar images.
  • Find copyrighted photos: If you are a photographer or you sell copyrighted images/photos, you can do a reverse image search to see where else on the Internet your photos are being used to make sure you get your royalties.
  • Check the authenticity of a picture: Look up images of accommodation rentals to make sure that they are not listed on other sites, which is something that a scammer might do. Scammers often steal images and list them as their own rental to take your deposit.
  • Perform a product search: Find products that you have seen on the Internet and are interested in buying. For example, if you see something on Pinterest, such as a product or recipe, that is not linked to a product page, you can find out where it is available for purchase by using its image in a reverse image search. 

How to reverse image search on desktop

Using your web browser, open any of the major search engines, such as Google Search, Bing, or Yandex. The following instructions apply to Yandex: 

  1.  Click the “Images” icon above the search bar. 
  2. Click on the camera icon which is in the search bar toward the right. 
  3. A popup box will appear where you are given the option to enter an image’s URL or upload a photo from your desktop. 
  4. Most users save a photo they have already found online and then upload it into this box. 
  5. The search engine will then display similar images and a list of all the pages where each image is displayed.

How to do a reverse image search on iPhone or Android

On phones, websites load differently and may not automatically offer reverse image searches. For example, when you fire up images.google.com on mobile, although the camera icon does show up in the search bar, tapping it will send you to download the Chrome app (from where you can easily perform a reverse image search).

To access Google’s reverse image search without using the Chrome app, you can load the desktop version of the Google website (or any other search engine’s website) on your mobile device. In Safari, tap the aA icon on the bottom left and select Request Desktop Site. In Chrome, tap the three-dot menu, scroll down on the menu that pops up, and select Request Desktop Site. On both browsers, that will load the desktop version of Google Images, and a working camera icon will appear. Then you can upload a photo from your photo library to perform a search on.

The reverse image search by Microsoft Bing is accessed as easily on mobile as it is on desktop. Browse to bing.com on any browser app and tap the camera icon that appears in the search bar in the same way as you would on desktop. You will then be asked to provide access to your camera and photo library, and you can either take a photo or upload one to perform the reverse image search.

Apps for reverse image search

If you prefer apps over the browser, a variety of reverse image search apps have been developed that you can keep on your smartphone at all times. Two of the best reverse image search apps are:

Tips for using reverse image search

If you want even more advice on how to reverse search an image or if your searches are coming up empty-handed, try some of these tips:

  • Crop images to highlight specific details that you wish to search for. 
  • Compress images before upload to save on upload bandwidth and time. 
  • Input a specific date range into the search tool. 
  • A input text into the search box to refine your results (if possible). 
  • Flip the photo to a different orientation. 
  • Upgrade the quality of your source photos.

Performing a reverse image search is a quick and easy way to find additional context about images and is a vital step for many professionals who work with photos. Try out the tips provided in this article and see what results you get.

Ashley is a technology writer who is interested in computers and software development. He is also a fintech researcher and is fascinated with emerging trends in DeFi, blockchain, and bitcoin. He has been writing, editing, and creating content for the ESL industry in Asia for eight years, with a special focus on interactive, digital learning.

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