7 Vital Google Image Search Hacks

Ben Stegner Updated 20-04-2018

As Google is the world’s home for searching the web, so is Google Images the most popular place to search for pictures 21 Quick Browser Tools to Search for Images Online What if you want to search for an image similar to one you see? Or, what if you want to quickly locate an image based on a word or phrase on a page? Read More . 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.

Google Image Search

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.

Google Image Search Tools

2. Search By File Type

If you’re only interested in a particular image file type JPEG, GIF, or PNG? Image Filetypes Explained and Tested Do you know the differences between JPEGs, GIFs, PNGs, and other image filetypes? Do you know when you should use one instead of the other? Fear not, MakeUseOf explains everything! Read More , 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.

Google Image Search by Filetype


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.

Google Reverse Image Search


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

Google 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 The Best Alternatives to Google's View Image Button Google unfortunately removed its View Image button, but there are workarounds you can use to get that functionality back. Read More . 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 The Best Google Search Cheat Sheet: Tips, Operators, and Commands to Know These special Google search tips, operators, and commands will help you narrow down your search results and always get the exact results you're looking for. Read More 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.

Google Images Advanced Search

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.

Google Images Save 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 RecipeGIFProduct, 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 5 Women's Fashion and Style Apps to Find the Right Outfit Finding the right dress can be a world of pain. Here are some of the foolproof women-centric apps to find the right outfit. Read More 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 The Google Search FAQ: How to Find Anything and Everything Google Search is synonymous with web search. Here are a few basic and not-so-basic ways that you can use all Google Search features. Read More .

Related topics: Google, Google Search, Image Search.

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  1. Ed
    August 16, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    You didn't include a way to stop Google from making a guess as to the context of the image. You didn't notice that when you give it an image with a celebrity in it and hit the visually similar button, it still returns other images of that celebrity that aren't the least bit similar visually?

    "Best guess : Girl"

    I don't want Google's best guess. I know what I'm looking at. I just want a list of visually similar images. I don't want a gigantic gallery of images that include blonde women or fluffy dogs. I want a list ranked by visual similarity (that means images with the most similar pixel information, or largest identical areas of pixels)

    Years ago it actually worked perfectly. Then they broke it and left it that way.

    Their reverse image search has been broken for years now. They know this and they blatantly ignore any inquiries or complaints.

  2. S. Arch
    November 6, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    Reverse Image Search failure
    I took a photo of an acrylic stand I had, that I wanted to buy more of, and did reverse image search.
    First google image identified it as "floor", then I tried another photo, on white background, and it identified it as "paper", and a third angle image i tried, it identified it as a "table". Is there any way to give google the parameters of what I am searching for, acrylic stand/holder, or "4.5 inches tall" etc, and then see if it can find one that matches my image?
    Or, any other suggestion? (I have already spent ages just searching for it by description.) Thanks in advance for any helpful suggestions.

    • Ed
      August 16, 2019 at 6:01 pm

      The best you can do here is to run the image search, then when the results are shown go back up to the search bar and change that keyword from "floor" to "acrylic stand" but don't delete the image from the search bar, just change the text then run it.

      If it doesn't work then you have to continue to modify that context term until you find the most popular term describing the object. In other words ...say you input an image of a yellow facial Kleenex tissue because you're looking for a gallery that you saw last week with images of a tissue in various states of "wrinkled-ness" and it returns results with context: paper.
      So you cange the word "paper" to "tissue" And the results are even less relevant. Change it to "Kleenex" and with luck, blam... There's similar images from the same gallery.

      It shouldn't be like this though... Visual search should not depend on context. Google's AI thinks everything is dog faces anyway, why would we ask for its opinion as to the context of our images?

  3. B
    December 23, 2016 at 12:49 am

    Thank you. This information was just what I wanted.