Intro to Google Reverse Image Search

What is a “reverse image search”? This is where you take an image you already have and use it as the input (instead of words) for a search. This can be done to find either what it is or more about it and/or to find similar images.

Is this even possible today? Yes, and there are many situations where this is particulaly useful.

Why Use Google Reverse Image Search?

Last week when my sister and I were having a clear-out of our childhood home, we came across an object that neither of us was familiar with. We didn’t know if we should save it for another family member, add it to the stack of items for a garage sale, or put it directly in the recycling bin. So I took a snapshot of it on my smartphone (see below if you’re curious) then dropped that into Google’s reverse image search engine. If you also are unfamiliar with it, you’ll see what we learned from the search results we received…

Another way I’ve recently used the reverse image search is when I’m impatient reading about some awesome destination on blog about visiting and living in different places around the world. But frustratingly, the publishers show you an amazing photo of a mystery place and then spend 4 pages of copy talking about it without revealing where it is. Usually at the end they try to entice you to find the answer by signing up for a webinar or more literature. Life it too short to get lost in someone else’s maze, so if I like the look of the photo, I drop it into reverse search and presto, I can see similar images and where this mystery spot is located. I nearly always find the identical image that was used, so I can be sure I’ve found the answer.

And for anyone prone to pursue a purely online relationship, using reverse image search can help confirm if the person is who they say they are rather than them “catfishing” you. Catfishing is when the person takes an image of someone else (usually more attractive) they’ve “borrowed” without permission and claim that it is of themself. Often this is accompanied by false “facts” about themself to make them appealing so that they can “hook” you in romantically before scamming you, usually for money or other valuables. However, it’s super simple to drop their supposed profile or other photo into reverse search and see if there are similar images that are attributed to a different name to the one they’re using and/or facts (where they live, what they do, if they’re married) around that person whose image it really is are inconsistent to what you’re being told.

Now that you can hopefully see the value of the tool, we’ll show you how easy it is to use.

How to Use Google Reverse Image Search

1. Grab a digital copy of the photo you want to search on. If you only have a printed copy, simply take a snapshot of it in good light (avoid glare) with your smartphone.

2. Go to (type this into your browser). You’ll get a search page that looks like this:

3. Select the camera icon (on the right side of the search box, middle icon above), and you’ll see this:

4. As indicated, if you have the photo on your device, tick “upload a file” and go to your saved picture (in downloads, pictures or other saved file) and tap the “Search” button. Otherwise if the picture is on a site, copy to web address and drop into the “Paste image link” box before hitting “Search”.

5. Once you get the image results, decide which most closely matches your original and tick on the result to see more information on it.

In our case, the mystery object appears to be a roller cutter for fabric and paper. Now if we could only figure out how to get it to cut anything…

Give reverse image search a try, and let us know what you think!

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