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What is a Reverse Image Search? 2023 Exclusive

A reverse image search is a tool on many different search engines which allows people to use images as the search topic rather than words or phrases (or even whole sentences).

No search terms are necessary with this tool, and it removes the need for people to guess at search terms that may or may not work.

What Is a Reverse Image Search Used For?

You can utilize reverse image search in various ways beyond just looking up other images. For example, you can use the tool to find the source and maybe the creator of an image. It can even allow users to locate a higher resolution version of the searched-for image.

Users can also use reverse image search to discover new works of art as the tool brings up anything related or adjacent to the image. For example, if you put a picture of “Abbey Road” by The Beatles in a search engine, the results will show the cover and similar-looking images by other artists.

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The most well-known reverse image search functionality is Google’s Search by Image. Just click the little camera icon in the search bar, and it lets you, optionally, upload an image to use as the search reference.

The camera icon highlighted in the Google Image Search search field.

Search by Image feature allows users to comb the internet for related images simply by uploading a photo or URL. The company created a unique algorithm that analyzes a submitted picture and compares it to the billions of other pictures on the site’s databases before returning with matching or similar results.

Google Photos even has a Lens feature that can scan a photo and run a search for it. The picture can be an existing image in a personal library or a recently taken photo.

Companies and creators can benefit significantly from reverse image searches. They can use the tool to gauge the popularity of their created work and see the reach of their intellectual property. If they suspect if other people are using their work without explicit permission, a creator can their work to find copyright violations and contact the people in violation of copyright laws.

Using TinEye Over Google

There are multiple reverse image search engines outside of Google, with the best one being TinEye.

TinEye has the distinct ability to locate different versions of the submitted image and similar images. This feature makes TinEye a valuable tool for copyright holders of visual works to find infringements on their work.

Google Images and TinEye are among the best engines out there, and, for the most comprehensive results, it is recommended you use both. Because they use different algorithms, the search engines can sometimes produce different results resulting in a broader set of answers.

Other Search Engines and Extensions

Reverse image searching isn’t only available in search engines. For example, eBay’s Shopbot allows users to find products by an uploaded photo.

Some companies and developers have created browser extensions to simplify reverse image searching. Google’s Chrome browser, for example, has RevEye, which allows users to reverse-search an image by right-clicking the image and selecting the extension in the menu.