Thousands of images are being uploaded to the internet every second, and you see unique photos every day that you will never see again in your whole lifetime.
In this search, you might end up finding a product or image that you want to use but don’t know how to use that image properly without violating anyone’s rights. To do that, you can use reverse image search tools to find that image. Read on to find out more.
What are Reverse image search tools?
The reverse image search is an image search in which a content-based image retrieval system looks at the image provided and then matches it with the indexed images.
After matching the indexed images present in the database, the user gets the results. The results are the links of sources that are using the image.
Some of the most commonly used reverse image search tools include reverse image search by Google because it has one of the largest libraries of indexed images. Its library is increasing thanks to the recent advancement in technologies like deep learning and artificial intelligence.
How reverse image search works?
The reverse image search uses CBIR systems to search through a database of indexed images. The capability of a tool depends on the number of images it has indexed in the past.
Some services might disclose this number, while others don’t release information about it. The estimated number of images a service has makes the reverse image search process more accurate.
Similarly, the license to use components of these tools is open or closed. Most services don’t have an open license. Only services like Google and PicScout lets users access them via open API.
How do these Image processing systems work?
When a user uploads an image on a reverse image search service, the tools generate a sequence from the pixels of the image. Then use it to match with the rest of the indexed images in the database.
The number of images indexed in each reverse image search engine will be different. And this difference impacts the quality of search results.
It is a fundamental principle on which all CBIR systems work, and they are getting improved every day.
What is the purpose of a reverse image search?
The purpose of these tools is to find more information about the image you saw somewhere on the web. This information is crucial, and it will tell you about the creator of the image.
You can use this information to give proper credit to the image creator and save yourself from copyright infringement. Other than that, you can find similar images online by using it.
For example, you found a picture of an awesome jacket on the internet. You use reverse image search to find out on which stores it is listed, and for how much you can buy it.
In this way, you might end up getting your jacket at a fair price than the rest of the stores.
How to use these tools?
These tools are simple, and you have to upload an image to search. Some use an image, while others allow you to choose from options to give more context to the search by selecting categories or entering other details.
Top 6 best reverse image search software to use
This is a free reverse image search tool provided by Google. It was introduced on July 21, 2001, due to the high demand for image search.
The reverse image search functionality was added to Google’s image search in 2012. Before that, people used a text query to search for an image.
With the introduction of this new feature, a user was able to perform a reverse image search using an image. The search algorithm of reverse image search by google works in the following steps.
When the image is first uploaded, it is analyzed on the basis of identifiers such as points, lines, textures, patterns, and colors.
After that, a query is generated on these distinct features of an image. This query is matched with the images present in the backend of Google. The user gets all the links related to the image and along with other details.
- Large image database
- Robust search algorithm
- Easy searching procedure
- Not enough options for more details
- Results not organized
- Merged output of website links and images
It is the image search engine created by Microsoft in 2014. It is a reverse image search tool by Microsoft, and it operates in the same way. The user uploads an image or pastes an image link as a search query.
The Bing visual search provides a better user interface. Its interface is more user friendly as compared to Google, and interface elements are better positioned.
Better positioning of user interface elements makes it easy for a user to follow through and get a good understanding of software quickly.
Its working is not disclosed, but still, it works similarly to other reverse image tools with the help of a CBIR system.
However, other websites can leverage their reverse image search capabilities for a small fee ranging from 1$ to 7$ depending on the search requests.
- Good User Interface
- Excellent search capabilities
- Output is separated tags, images, links
- Doesn’t take additional information into account
- Paid API
It is a reverse image search tool developed by the Russian search engine developers of Yandex. It uses Sibir image search technology, which processes the image uploaded by segmenting it into different parts known as visual phrases.
Then these visual phrases are matches with the databases of digital fingerprints derived from indexed images.
It also gives information about the image uploaded. For example, if a user uploads an image of a plant he doesn’t know, then the result will show the user that the plant is a rose or something else.
It offers another feature as compared to others is. It lets users crop their uploaded photos for reverse checking of selected areas.
This feature is not available in other reverse image search tools, and it is a helpful feature if your image has a lot of text.
As more and more images are being uploaded into the system. Yandex improves its reverse image search results. It locates the image in different resolutions which are published over the internet to do that it requires you to have an active account logged-on in Yandex.
It is a drawback since other reverse image search tools don’t require users to be logged in to download the images or to customize their search experience.
Overall, Yandex reverse image search is quite good as compared to the others listed here.
- Excellent search capabilities
- Text recognition in image
- Cropped Image reverse check
- For a full experience, you need an account
- Some heavy images fail to upload
It is a reverse image search tool developed and offered by Idée Inc based in Toronto Canada.
It allows users to use a pure image-based reverse search in which one image is uploaded to Tineye. It generates a unique digital fingerprint for that image called a Hash.
The service never disclosed its exact algorithms, which it uses in reverse image search. But still, it reduces the image pixels to generate an image that has a unique structure.
This structural image is then broken down into simpler colors of lower frequencies. These colors are averaged and converted into bits. From these bits, a unique hash is prepared. This hash doesn’t change much even when an image is altered.
That unique fingerprint is used to search for similarity with the indexed images. Its pure image search technology lets users check copyrighted images for usage without authorization.
The Tineye can also recognize images with its powerful match engine even when they are heavily cropped or edited. Its interface is easy to use.
For companies, paid products and solutions are available. In terms of accuracy, its search is best, but there is a downside too.
It promotes the stock links within the search results, which can be annoying or unexpected for users. These promotional links help support Tineye and keep Tineye as a free service for everyone to use.
However, it might not be annoying for those marketers and publishers. They are searching for the image to get it licensed. So, they can use it. They will find this incredible time-saving feature handy feature.
- Search stock sites too
- Accurate search results
- Over 5 billion images indexed
- For commercial use, it is paid
- Frequent promotional links
The Pinterest image search tool was created through an acquisition of another startup. Pinterest managed to acquire a visual search startup named Visual Graph in 2014. In 2015, they published a research article in which they disclosed information about their new search technology.
This tool works in a similar way as the other tools and creates a unique fingerprint from an image or pin. Then by using this fingerprint it matches an image with the rest of the indexed images.
Pinterest offers cropped reverse image search in which you can search the parts of images. It is done by using the zoom tool.
This zoom tool lets you zoom on specific parts of an image that you want to reverse search. It brings up related pins related to that part of an image.
The image search is only limited to pins inside Pinterest, which is not good when it is compared to other tools described here.
If you want to perform an image search, you have to create a pin with your image, and only then you can search with a little search icon shown below each pin.
The process is not user friendly as Tineye, Google, or Yandex, and a new user may find it very difficult to reverse search with Pinterest. Its search feature offers different features and value to the users. As compared to Google or Yandex, and it is a great feature to use.
- Shows an abundance of similar ideas
- Zoom Tool to crop and search images in real-time
- Excellent search system
- Tricky search procedure
- Search limited to Pinterest only
6. Karma Decay
If you are a Redditor, then this reverse image search tool is for you. Since Reddit users never appreciate a repost. This tool helps you to track reposted stuff on the different forums of Reddit.
It will help you in tracking your images on different forums which will help you in checking where your images are being used with or without permission.
Using it is a bit complex process, and it requires a browser extension if you want to use its script since no extension is available.
To run this script, you have to install the Tampermonkey extension. To use it on other browsers like Firefox and Safari, you need to install Greasemonkey and Backtrack Safari extension.
- Good for finding pictures inside Reddit
- Shows recently searched pictures
- Script available to use with extensions
- Poor UI
- Search limited to Reddit only
Using reverse image search on your phone
Reverse image search is available to desktop browsers only. It is difficult and inconvenient for mobile users to search for images from browsers by loading desktop websites.
It is possible to get good results, but it will take a lot of time to go through the same process of changing your browser preferences over and over again.
So, we have listed some of the best mobile applications you can use to perform reverse image searches from your phone.
Here are the best applications you can use to reverse image search with iPhone or Android.
The Camfind was developed in 2013. It was developed by a Private Company known as Image Searcher Inc in Los Angeles, California. Camfind is powered by CloudSight’s reverse image search API. This app lets users identify any image, whether it is a product or item, by uploading a picture into the app.
It fetches details about and related to that image. Such as links where the image has been used. If it is a product, then you will see store links or even stock image sites, and you can license this image from there.
The Camfind is available for both platforms. It is used and trusted by users all around the globe with a staggering number of 2 million downloads. The application reverse searches the image with its database of 50 million indexed images.
2. Google Lens
It is a reverse image search application by Google, but its functionality is not limited to scanning images.
Google created and introduced their Google Lens application in 2017 for both Android and iPhone. It also scans Bar Codes, QR Codes, and translates text into multiple languages of your choice.
It is free to download and uses Google’s visual analysis networks to process queries. Its results are similar to that of Google image search.
On Android, it requires at least android 6.0 or newer to function. So, it is not available for older Android phones.
Add-ons / Extensions for Browsers
This extension helps you to quickly locate the image by reverse search provided by Google in Firefox.
If you want to use Google-powered reverse image search in the Firefox browser, then this is your go-to extension.
With this extension, the power of Tineye is just a few clicks away. It allows you to do searches more quickly. The Tineye extension is available for Chrome browser on Chrome store for free.
The Tineye extension for Firefox is available as an add-on. For Safari browser it is available in the application store.
This Firefox-only extension lets you search for an image on different reverse image search engines such as Tineye, Yandex, and Google Images.
It is an all-in-one tool to access all of these services, and it is very handy since each of the services has its pros and cons. An extension that allows you to search on several reverse image search providers is always a worthy option.
The search by image add-on is a simple app to do reverse image searches. It is a user-friendly application that shows users information about an image when it is right-clicked.
This information is about the sites where this image is being used and in what resolutions it is available on the web.
All the reverse image search tools have their pros and cons. Each reverse image application is made for a targeted purpose.
On one hand, we have simple free tools like Google Lens, and on the other hand, we have paid commercial solutions provided by Tineye.
If you are just a casual internet user, you can make things work with free tools. But if you are an enterprise user, you should use paid software to save time and money in the long-run.