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visual search enginesOne of the biggest tasks we have at MakeUseOf is finding images for our articles. You see, we don’t have a separate staff of five hundred photojournalists who travel all over the world for us and take photographs to complement our articles. There isn’t a VR studio at the MakeUseOf online office where photogs can set up lengthy holo-sessions with professional models. No, dear readers. We have to find these images for ourselves.

Some of us actually go out with a camera and take a few snapshots. Others create images using Illustrator or Photoshop How to Fix Overexposed Photos in Photoshop How to Fix Overexposed Photos in Photoshop If you are a photographer and have a good sense of light, this tutorial is not for you. You probably know how to fix overexposed or underexposed photos. The target audience here is the wannabe... Read More . However, most of the time we have to search for them. With that said, a visual search engine really comes in handy when you’re in our line of work. Below are a few visual search engines that you may be able to make use of on your own.

TinEye

visual search engines

TinEye has been around since, like, ever. Most of you may know it by its most popular use: reverse image search. It’s still a visual search engine, but yes, it’s a little unorthodox. Searching by the image to find copies of image yields a rather narrow selection. However, one feature you may not know about is its MulticolorEngine.

That is, you pick a color, and then TinEye will do a search for Creative Commons images that match this designated color. This is perfect for those of you working with design.

CC Search

visual search

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CC Search is a search engine that only searches for material backed by the Creative Commons Yahoo! Image Search Makes It Easy To Search For Creative Commons Images On Flickr [Updates] Yahoo! Image Search Makes It Easy To Search For Creative Commons Images On Flickr [Updates] Creative Commons images have lots of takers and find a place in everything from presentations to blogging. There are lots of ways to search for Creative Commons images labeled for reuse. Now, with the help... Read More . This means you can easily search for images from a variety of resources that are free for you to use. As a note, the website specifically states that it does not promote itself as a visual search engine – except it is.

Also, even though it claims to only search for creative commons material, make sure you verify that you can actually use the content. Furthermore, you don’t have to search only for images using CC Search. You can even find videos, music, clip art, and more.

Compfight

visual search

Like Flickr? Try Compfight. The visual search engine provides a clean experience while looking for whatever image you need. It pulls all of its images from Flickr, but as you may know, Flickr occasionally has the hiccups. This would be a good backup whenever you’re needing to find things right away. However, one of Compfight’s more practical uses is its WordPress plug-in.

Those of you who are bloggers know how much of a hassle it can be open a new tab, browse for images, download them, resize them, etc. With the Compfight plugin, you can find images while using WordPress and all of your search results are from the Creative Commons.

Flickr Storm

visual search

Sometimes, we think in the box, and we have this idea of how our desired image should look – the features, the colors, the subjects. After painstakingly coming up with this idea, we end up just limiting ourselves! With Flickr Storm, you can search Flickr for the image that you want using your chosen keywords, but unlike the other search engines, this site adds a little extra “magic” to the mix.

In addition to your search results, it provides a secondary set of search results based on your keyword along with related ones that it comes up with. This could help you find what you are looking for when you aren’t really sure what you are looking for.

WeSEE

visual search engines

WeSEE offers a much cleaner version of typical image search, and it’s somewhat designed for those who are fashionable and paying attention to the latest trends. By pulling images from various sources (including Pinterest!) the app offers a nice selection of images using a very minimalistic interface. Offering both reverse image and keyword search functions, WeSEE is a good asset to have in the world of visual search engines.

Bear in mind that it’s still in beta form. However, the site is growing each and every day.

Google Image Search

You know it already, but Google probably has the best image search engine out there. It allows you to conduct reverse image searches, find images by color, and even look through those that belong to the creative common. This wouldn’t be a top six list without it. While the other tools help you narrow down your search to a more specific criteria, Google lets you pull broad features from each one and use them together for highly effective results.

In short, Google Image search is a true jack-of-all-trades.

Conclusion

We’ve written about visual search engines 3 Smart Visual Search Engines To Find The Images You Want 3 Smart Visual Search Engines To Find The Images You Want Read More before, but it was about time that we gave you a refresher. For instance, TinEye didn’t have the MulticolorEngine last time around, and WeSEE is just getting started. Below are a few of our past articles for more information:

You may have seen a few of these before (like Google, of course), but we’d like for you to update us on what we haven’t seen. Now it’s your turn to talk.

What other visual search engines do you like to use? How have these helped you?

Image Credit: laihu

  1. Rob
    July 13, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    I prefer touchlogo.com

  2. derek
    July 2, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    what about http://www.macroglossa.com? this service identify similar images by categories.

  3. Qbie
    June 28, 2013 at 4:01 am

    There is another engine - http://www.querbie.com. It searches for similar images, an intuitive and natural search that uses color and shape. It is a true visual search as users provide their image, not a textual search. While the index is still small the interface is interesting and offers options to manipulate the image query

  4. Josie
    May 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Joshua, Thank You for this timely and comprehensive list. Well done!
    Peace+Much Love to You

  5. sonwabile
    May 7, 2013 at 7:28 am

    thanks for the article it was helpful.

  6. Jacob
    May 7, 2013 at 3:21 am

    I just found the image I had been looking for! Your article was a big help.

    Kinda hate to say it because Google is so ubiquitous now but the Google Image search gave me exactly what I wanted to find.

  7. Ellen Odza
    May 6, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    This is awesome, thanks! I teach online courses and need images for the power points I create to accompany audio lecture materials. It often takes ridiculous amounts of time to find an appropriate image. I mainly use Google but did not know about all the features you've mentioned here. This article will definitely save me tons of time!

  8. Nancy Messieh
    May 2, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    I'm a big fan of Compfight - it makes it so much easier to search for Creative Commons images on Flickr but hadn't come across CC search - great resource. Thanks Joshua!

  9. riya
    May 2, 2013 at 11:38 am

    I didn't know about them. Thanks for this info :)

  10. macwitty
    May 1, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    I just Freerange from time to time http://freerangestock.com/

  11. Dr. Raed Shreteh
    May 1, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Google Image Search 1# choice !

  12. danny6114
    May 1, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Between TinEye and Google I'e never had a problem finding an image and for refining a search Bing does quite nicely.

  13. Rene Bernal
    May 1, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Nice! Bookmarked!

  14. supertofana
    May 1, 2013 at 8:43 am

    I havn't hear about it. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Nevzat A
    May 1, 2013 at 7:50 am

    I think Firefox leads image search addons, it has many of them and it eases the process, just right click the image and select the search engine. I've been using image search tools and enjoying them, they are very useful, especially for programmers and designers. Thanks for the list MUO, bookmarked!

    • k odu
      May 2, 2013 at 5:08 pm

      Except that Firefox is a sloppy browser.

    • Nevzat A
      May 2, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      Latest versions shine on speed. I'm a happy Firefox user.

    • k odu
      May 2, 2013 at 5:50 pm

      I used to be an avid firefox user then I changed to chrome. Chrome has disappointed me as well. I might switch back to firefox, but they keeping updating and sometimes newer updates are worse than previous updates.I might try the little known Opera.Big names suck.

    • rajeshmetla
      May 9, 2013 at 9:45 am

      Opera is a good browser, but many third party addons like evernote clipping tools etc are not there for it. Unless you use one of them regularly, you might even find it a Great browser. I have switched back to Firefox only for these addons.

  16. unkerjay
    May 1, 2013 at 5:56 am

    My thoughts.

    Best multitasking image search site:

    imgops

    Allows for drag and drop and url searches as well as some image specific, image data searches.

    In general, visually similar sucks on just about every platform I've looked at it. It's pretty simple really. If I search for "bowling pins", then a "similar" search one would reasonably think would find, "bowling pins". Not too much to ask. Too many fails on that account.

    Next, an image search that doesn't allow for unfiltered or uncensored results can't necessarily be relied on to return accurate results. You don't have to be searching for porn or smut, but, where you have good reason to want a comprehensive search an engine that provides you with the options of uncensored, unfiltered is more likely to provide it.

    Pinterest has limits on what it allows and therefore what it's likely to return. Flickr searches may prove useful for Flickr - not much else.

    Google, I find, overall is best for almost any reverse image search. Be forewarned. Google does not allow the turning off of it's "safe" search anymore. This can be tested via searches on Google compared to the same "safe search off" searches in Bing or Yahoo. For that reason, Google may be a great place to start an image search based on image upload or via url. But, for more comprehensive unfiltered, uncensored searches, try Bing or Yahoo. Google now insists on "further clarification" for unfiltered, uncensored searches - as though, for some search terms, "further clarification" is really necessary.

    Some email providers, Gmail that I know of, don't allow direct image search from inside the mail system. They'll require saving and uploading the image to be able to search it.

    Most images I've looked on TinEye for have yielded zip, zero, zilch, nothing compared to searches on Google. Google, I've found, in general, is simply the better, more accurate overall, more comprehensive image search compared to the alternatives - caveats as noted above.

    Just some caveats, gotchas and alternatives worth considering.

  17. unkerjay
    May 1, 2013 at 5:34 am

    My thoughts.

    Best multitasking image search site:

    http://imgops.com

    Allows for drag and drop and url searches as well as some image specific, image data searches.

    In general, visually similar sucks on just about every platform I've looked at it. It's pretty simple really. If I search for "bowling pins", then a "similar" search one would reasonably think would find, "bowling pins". Not too much to ask. Too many fails on that account.

    Next, an image search that doesn't allow for unfiltered or uncensored results can't necessarily be relied on to return accurate results. You don't have to be searching for porn or smut, but, where you have good reason to want a comprehensive search an engine that provides you with the options of uncensored, unfiltered is more likely to provide it.

    Pinterest has limits on what it allows and therefore what it's likely to return. Flickr searches may prove useful for Flickr - not much else.

    Google, I find, overall is best for almost any reverse image search. Be forewarned. Google does not allow the turning off of it's "safe" search anymore. This can be tested via searches on Google compared to the same "safe search off" searches in Bing or Yahoo. For that reason, Google may be a great place to start an image search based on image upload or via url. But, for more comprehensive unfiltered, uncensored searches, try Bing or Yahoo. Google now insists on "further clarification" for unfiltered, uncensored searches - as though, for some search terms, "further clarification" is really necessary.

    Some email providers, Gmail that I know of, don't allow direct image search from inside the mail system. They'll require saving and uploading the image to be able to search it.

    Most images I've looked on TinEye for have yielded zip, zero, zilch, nothing compared to searches on Google. Google, I've found, in general, is simply the better, more accurate overall, more comprehensive image search compared to the alternatives - caveats as noted above.

    Just some caveats, gotchas and alternatives worth considering.

  18. Tika maya thapa
    May 1, 2013 at 3:29 am

    I didn't knew about other visual search engine except google image search ! Thanx ...!

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