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How to Reverse Image Search Using Google

by on November 12, 2021
in Tips & How-Tos, Computers and Software, Internet & Networking, Phones and Mobile, Mobile Apps, Android Apps, iPhone/iPad Apps, Tech 101, Time Savers :: 0 comments

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All of us are familiar with using text to search for what we need. For example, type "black boots" into Google, and millions of results pop up. But sometimes an image does a much better job at describing what you're looking for – after all, a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Need to find the jacket your child saw in an Instagram post and wants as a gift for the holidays? Or want to find the perfect replacement for that vintage vase your mom broke? Or maybe you just want to find out what that cool bug is that you discovered at the ball field?

Google lets you use images – using either your phone's camera or a photo you have saved on your device – to search for the things you need, but can't easily put into words. Here are the steps to use Google's reverse image search on your phone and computer.

How to reverse image search on your computer

To reverse image search, you can use any type of computer (Windows PC, Mac, Chromebook) with any browser (Chrome, Edge, Safari, Firefox, Opera) through Google.com. You can search using images you find on the web and images you have saved on your computer.

How to reverse image search a photo you see on a webpage

1. Open a new browser window (Ctrl+N).

2. Browse to images.google.com in the new window.

Google images home page with search box that has a camera icon, mic icon, and spyglass icon on the right in an oblong search box below the Google Images logo.

2. Click on the camera icon.

3. In the browser window with the image you want to reverse search, click and hold on the image and then drag and drop it anywhere in the "Search by image" box in the Google search window.

Google Images page with Search by image box. In the box are the instructions: Search Google with an image instead of text. Try dragging an image here. Below are two tabs: Paste image URL (selected) and Upload an image. Below is a search box and a button entitled Search by image.

If you try to drag-and-drop an image from Facebook or another social media platform, you may get an error message from Google saying, "The URL doesn't refer to an image, or the image is not publicly accessible."  In that case, right click on the image you're using to search and choose "Search Google for image" if you're using the Chrome browser. For other browsers, choose "Copy image URL" or "Copy image link." Go back to the Google image search page, click on the camera icon, paste the image link into the box under "Paste image URL," and click on the "search by image" button.

How to reverse image search with a saved image on your computer

1. Browse to images.google.com.

2. Click on the camera icon.

3. Select the "Upload an image" tab.

4. Select "Choose File."

5. Select your file and select "Open."

How to reverse image search using Google on your iPhone

On your iPhone, you can use your camera to search for an object in real-time through the Google app, or you can use an image you have saved in the Photos app. Any photo can be searched: one you've taken with your iPhone's camera, an image you've downloaded from a text or email, or a screenshot you've captured (find out how to take a screenshot on iPhone).

How to reverse image search on iPhone with your camera

1. Download the Google App and open it.

2. Tap the camera icon in the search bar.

3. Frame the object that you want to search for with your iPhone's camera. Everything in the image that Google can identify in real-time will have a blue dot, so make sure the brackets surround the object you want to be identified. If a blue dot doesn't appear on the object, take a picture anyway, Google may be able to identify the item from the image you capture.

Three screenshots. From the left, the 1st screenshot shows the home page of the Google App with the Google logo at the top and the search bar with the spyglass on the leftt and the mic and camera icons on the right. In the 2nd screenshot there is a picture of a plant with white brackets around it and a blue dot on top. Under the plant it says Tap shutter button to search and below are a photo icon on the left and a white button with a spyglass in the center (pointed out). In the 3rd screenshot, there is a picture of two dog toys with a white circle on the dog and brackets around the shark. Below are visual matches for the shark toy.

4. Press the round search button with the magnifying glass icon

5. The results will appear below the image you captured. You can switch between objects by tapping on the white circle. If there's an object without a circle, tap on that area, and Google will attempt to identify the object.

How to reverse image search on iPhone with a saved image

1. Download the Google App and open it.

2. Tap the camera icon in the search bar.

3. Tap the image icon to the left of the search button to bring up images from the Photos app.

4. Select the image you want to search for. Google will pick an object to identify in the image and show you the search results. If there are other objects in your image that Google can identify, they'll have a white circle over them. Tap the white circle to bring up search results for that object.

Three screenshots. From the left, the 1st screenshot shows the home page of the Google App with the Google logo at the top and the search bar with the spyglass on the left and the mic and camera icons (pointed out) on the right. In the 2nd screenshot there is a blank screen with white brackets around it. Under the brackets it says Tap shutter button to search and below are a photo icon on the left (pointed out) and a white button with a spyglass in the center. In the 3rd screenshot, there is a photo of a rabbit with search results below showing pictures of rabits: an American Fuzzy, Cashmere Lop and Holland Lop.

If the object doesn't have a white circle, you can try tapping on it, and Google will search based on what it sees in the brackets. You can adjust the brackets to include only the object you want to be identified.

How to reverse image search on an Android phone

Android phones come preloaded with the Google app and you may also have the Google toolbar on your home screen (the oblong box with the G icon on the right with a mic icon and camera icon on the left). To reverse image search, you can use your phone's camera or an image you've saved.

How to reverse image search on an Android phone with your camera

You can search with an image you've taken with your phone's camera, an image you've downloaded from an app or text message, or you can take a screenshot of an app or webpage.

Three screenshots: From the left, the first screenshot shows the Android home screen with the Google search bar - it has the G on the left and the mic and camera icons (pointed out). The 2nd screenshot shows Google Lens at the top with a camera button below (pointed out) and text below - Search with your camera. Below that are Screenshots with thumbnails of images and Images with thumbnails of photos you've taken. The 3rd screenshot has Google Lens at the top and a photo of racoon and squid dog toys. The squid has a blue dot on it and there are brackets around the two toys. Below are the words Tap shutter button to search. Beneath that are a photo in a small square and a white button with a spyglass (pointed out).

1. Tap on the camera icon on your Google search bar or open the Google app and tap on the camera icon in your Google search bar.

2. Tap on the camera icon.

3. Frame the object that you want to identify with your phone's camera. Everything in the image that Google can identify will have a blue dot, so make sure the brackets surround the object you want to be identified. If Google doesn't recognize the object, take a picture anyway, it may be able to identify it from the image you capture. 

4. Press the round search button with the magnifying glass icon.

5. The results will appear below the image you captured. You can switch between objects by tapping on the white circle. If there's an object without a circle, tap on that area, and Google will attempt to identify the object. You can adjust the brackets just to surround the object for better results.

How to reverse image search on an Android phone with a saved image

Three screenshots: From the left, the first screenshot shows the Android home screen with the Google search bar - it has the G on the left and the mic and camera icons (pointed out). The 2nd screenshot shows Google Lens at the top with a camera button below and text below - Search with your camera. Below that are Screenshots with thumbnails of images and Images with thumbnails of photos you've taken. In the 3rd screenshot you see Google Lens at the top. There is a photo of two women with white dots on one woman's hat, top, and skirt, and brackets around her boots. On the second woman there is a white dot over her belt. Below are the words Translate, Text, Search (highlighted), Homework. Beneath that are visual matches for the boots.

1. Tap on the camera icon on your Google search bar or open the Google app and tap on the camera icon in your Google search bar.

2. Tap the image icon to the left of the search button to bring up images from your photo app, whether that's Google Photos, Samsung Gallery, or another app.

3. Select the image you want to identify. Google will pick one object to identify in the image and show you the search results. If there are other objects in your picture that Google can recognize, they'll have a white circle over them. Tap the white circle to bring up search results for that object. If the object doesn't have a white circle, you can try tapping on it, and Google will search based on what it sees in the brackets. You can adjust the brackets to include only the object you want to be identified.

[Image credit: Techlicious/Smartmockups]

For the past 20+ years, Techlicious founder Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Prior to Techlicious, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Senior Technology Editor for Popular Science. Suzanne has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.



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