As Google is the world’s home for searching the web, so is Google Images the most popular place to search for pictures. Enter any query, and you’ll see thousands of images related to it. It’s easy enough, but what if you want to go deeper?
If you’re overwhelmed with the amount of image results, or want to learn some advanced tricks for getting more out of Google Images, start with these tips.
First: How to Do a Google Image Search
Before we jump into the advanced tricks, let’s cover the basics. To search Google for an image, simply visit Google Images. You can click the Images link in the top-right of Google’s homepage to get there quickly.
Type what you want to search for into the bar and press Enter. You’ll likely see tons of results. Click an image to view it in a callout box. This will display its resolution and related images, as well as buttons for visiting the page, sharing it, and saving it for later.
1. Take Advantage of Search Tools
Underneath the Images search bar, you’ll see a few links. One of them is Tools, which provides you with several ways to filter your searches. After clicking Tools, you’ll have the following filters available:
- Size: Choose from pre-selected sizes like Large, Medium, and Icon. You can also select Larger than to specify a minimum size, or Exactly to only show images of a particular dimension.
- Color: Shows only images in Full color, Black and white, or those that are Transparent. Also lets you filter images by a certain color.
- Usage rights: Lets you only show images that are labeled for reuse in various scenarios. Most images Google shows aren’t freely available for use, so make sure you have permission to use them in your own endeavors.
- Type: Shows images types like Faces, Clip art, and animated.
- Time: Allows you to search for images uploaded in a certain time frame.
- More tools: Select Show sizes to see each image’s resolution on its thumbnail.
- Clear: Click this after applying one or more of the above to remove those filters.
2. Search By File Type
If you’re only interested in a particular image file type, there’s no point sifting through all the results looking for it. Instead, you can use an advanced operator. Just add filetype:png to search for PNG images, for example.
Once you enter this and search, the filetype text will disappear. But rest assured that you’ll only see images of that type. What’s more, this will add a new command to the Tools menu. You’ll see PNG files (or whatever you entered) and can click this dropdown to select another file type such as JPG or BMP.
3. Reverse Image Search
A normal Google Images search returns images for a text query. But you can also use an image to search Google Images instead—this is known as a reverse image search.
To do so, visit Google Images and click the Camera icon in the search bar. Here, you can paste an image URL from the web to search, or upload an image from your computer. If you prefer, you can also drag and drop an image onto the search bar.
Once you do, Google will provide its best guess for the image you’ve provided. Below, you’ll see Visually similar images, followed by web pages that include matching images. This is a great way to get more information about an image you’re unsure about.
If you use Chrome, there’s a handy built-in shortcut for reverse image search. Hold the S key and right-click an image to instantly search with it.
4. Restore the View Image Button
In early 2018, Google made a lot of users upset when it removed the View image button from Google Images results thanks to complaints from stock photo company Getty Images. Now it’s a lot less convenient to grab images from Google, especially when you have to visit a page that doesn’t have the image easily accessible.
Thankfully, it’s easy to restore this button with an extension. We recommend View Image, available for Chrome and Firefox. It returns both the View image and Search by image functions, and even offers a few options to boot.
5. Remember Advanced Search Operators
We covered the filetype operator above, but don’t forget that you can use Google’s advanced operators for images, too.
For instance, try site: to search for images only on a specific site. Or use the – (minus) operator to exclude certain words from a search. Putting your query in quotes will search for only that exact phrase.
If you don’t like using operators, you can click Settings > Advanced search on any Google Images results page to open Advanced Image Search. This lets you access many of the same commands, but through simpler text boxes.
6. Save Images
Have you ever found the exact image you were looking for, but forgot to download it? It’s difficult to find that image again in the future. That’s why Google implemented its own Save Image feature right inside Google Images.
To use it, just perform a Google Image search and click on the image you’re interested in to open its callout box. Click the Save button and you’ll see the ribbon icon turns gold.
Anytime you want to view your saved images, click the View saved button on any image. You can also visit your Google Saved page to view all the items you’ve saved across Google. You’ll see pictures in a folder named Favorite images.
This feature is only available for users in the US, and you must log into your Google account to take advantage.
7. Mobile Image Search Tricks
When you’re searching for images using Google’s mobile app, there are a few special features you should know about.
First, keep an eye out for badges in the bottom-left corner of images. Depending on your query, these may be Recipe, GIF, Product, or similar. When you tap one, you’ll get more information than just the image.
For instance, if you type donut into Google Images, and tap an image with the Recipe badge, you’ll find a recipe for making those donuts. Similarly, an image with the Product tag will let you jump right to the purchase page for that item.
In a similar fashion, Google Images wants to help you with style as well. When you search for fashion-related images, you’ll sometimes see a set of lifestyle images underneath the product image you’ve selected. These show real-world examples how you could incorporate that clothing item into an outfit.
In our testing, this didn’t work reliably with every product, but you might have more luck as a dedicated fashion fan.
The World’s Images at Your Fingertips
We’ve looked at some of the most useful tips for Google Images. While it’s a simple tool, knowing a few advanced tricks will help you use it more efficiently. Just remember that you’re responsible for making sure you have permission to use images you find on Google.
For more Google mastery, check out our Google search FAQ.