Top 6 Visual Search Engines For Finding The Image You Want

camera1   Top 6 Visual Search Engines For Finding The Image You WantOne 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. 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

tineye   Top 6 Visual Search Engines For Finding The Image You Want

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

creativecommons   Top 6 Visual Search Engines For Finding The Image You Want

CC Search is a search engine that only searches for material backed by the Creative Commons. 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

compfight   Top 6 Visual Search Engines For Finding The Image You Want

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

flickrstorm   Top 6 Visual Search Engines For Finding The Image You Want

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

wesee   Top 6 Visual Search Engines For Finding The Image You Want

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 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

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

22 Comments -

Tika maya thapa

I didn’t knew about other visual search engine except google image search ! Thanx …!

unkerjay

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.

unkerjay

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.

Nevzat A

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

Except that Firefox is a sloppy browser.

Nevzat A

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

k odu

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

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.

supertofana

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

Rene Bernal

Nice! Bookmarked!

danny6114

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

Dr. Raed Shreteh

Google Image Search 1# choice !

macwitty

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

riya

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

Nancy Messieh

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!

Ellen Odza

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!

Jacob

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.

sonwabile

thanks for the article it was helpful.

Josie

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

Qbie

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

derek

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

Rob

I prefer touchlogo.com