So you’ve got a picture, and you want to know where it came from or what it is. Google has had a reverse image search capability for a long time, but it’s not always easy to figure out the best way to use it—especially if you’re on your phone. Here’s the definitive guide.
GOOGLE FROM A DESKTOP COMPUTER
The easiest solution is if you’re using Google’s Chrome browser. If so, just right click the image you’re interested in and select “Search Google for image.” If you’re on Firefox, you can add an extension to give you this superpower.
Otherwise, go images.google.com. Click on the camera icon. In the menu that opens up, you can either upload a picture from your computer, or paste the URL of the image you want to search.
(Note that if you want to search an image you found online, if you right-click the image, you can either “Save Image As…” to use the former option, or “Copy Image Address” for the latter option.)
GOOGLE FROM MOBILE
Just like on desktop, this is easier if you’re already using Google’s Chrome as your web browser. Just tap and hold the image, and click on “Search Google for This Image.”
But if you’re not using Chrome (and don’t want to) go to images.google.com, the camera icon doesn’t show up in the search box, so you need another way to search an image. Here’s one workaround, if you’re searching an image you found online (instead of a picture you took yourself): Navigate to the image, then tap and hold. Choose “Copy” from the menu that pops up.
Now navigate back to images.google.com and paste what you copied into the search bar. What shows up will be the URL of the image, plus some formatting junk on the end. Delete everything except the base URL, then do the search. In the search results, click “search by image.”
Alternately, the website reverse.photos has a simple interface for uploading photos that automatically passes your search through Google’s reverse image search.
EASY NON-GOOGLE OPTION FOR MOBILE
Mobile reverse image search is one place—maybe the place—where Bing beats Google. Go to bing.com/images and you can click a camera icon in the search bar to upload or take a picture. (After agreeing to continue past a warning about Microsoft looking at the pictures you’re searching for.)
ImgOps is a tool for doing reverse image searches and just about anything else you can think of doing with an image. On desktop or mobile, go to imgops.com and either put in a URL or upload a picture. Once you submit, you get to a page that offers Google and Bing reverse image searches, as well as other more specialized tools. Plus it allows you to change the size, edit, examine metadata, and more.