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Arkansas State University

Image Searching: Reverse Image Searching

A short intro to image databases and websites.

REVERSE IMAGE SEARCHING

Reverse image searching is where you upload an image and search based off that image. 

So, why would you want to do that? 

First, you can use reverse searching to try and find the original source.  Once you find the original source, you'll have a better idea if you can legally use it or not.  Another advantage is that you can see if you have an original or an altered version of the image (e.g. has yours been cropped?).  Also, it'll give you an idea how often the image is used.  If you're trying to create an unique presentation for class, you may not want to use an image that has appeared all over the Internet.  Finally, you may discovered similar styled images that actually work better for your project.

To reverse search an image, try using either TinEye or Google Image:

TINEYE

TinEye was the first image search engine that allowed you to search by image.  While TinEye does not pull similar results in the way that Google does, it does give you a much better idea of how a particular image is being used on the Internet and how often.  Not only that, you have the option to compare your original image to the images it finds.  This makes it easier to find any alternative versions or even to find if others are editing the images you put on the web.
 

Comparing in TinEye

TinEye allows you to easily switch between matched images and your original.
 

In addition to searching the TinEye homepage, you can download the TinEye extension for Mozilla and search any image you find with the right click of your mouse.

GOOGLE REVERSE IMAGE

While TinEye is better for comparing images and finding how images are used on the web, Google Image is better for identifying the image name or artist and finding similar images.

To do a reverse image search in Google Image, click on the small camera icon in the search bar.  This will give the option to upload an image or enter an URL of an image already on the web.

Google Image

 
After you enter an image, Google will either tell you what the image is or show you similar looking images.  This is a good way to browse images in a particular style.  For example:

Google Reverse Image Results

 

For more information on using Google Image, visit the Google Image Page of this guide.