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Want to know what that pic is?? search by uploading an image.

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Here is an incredible google trick.. you can search by image.

Suppose you see an image online and wonder what the pic is about?  Here is one way you might find out. (this is also useful for dating sites where you can, in many cases, spot a fake profile pic)

What is the image search?

The image search allows a user to either upload an image, or provide a url to an image.

How to search

You can get to the image search either by going to google and clicking “images” at the top right of your browser or going to the google images search.

Google Images
Google Images

You will then see a search box where you can upload an image or provide a URL to an image. 

Google search by image
Google search by image
Google search by image dialog
Google search by image dialog

Method 1 – upload an image

If you have an image, you can upload the image to the image search. For example, suppose you have the following picture of a mansion.

Image used for a search by image
Image used for a search by image

You would then simply upload your image. 

Method 2 – Search by URL

As an alternative, you can search by the url

Suppose you see an image online. In many cases, you don’t need to download it if you can get the URL to the image. 

  1. right click on the image you want to search
  2. choose Copy Link Location or Copy image URL etc. depending on your browser
  3. paste the link in.

Results

Google will try to show you matching images. Some of the matching may be based on the file name of the uploaded file. For example, in this case, I called the file ‘mansion.jpg’.

The search showed images of various mansions that were similar in style. Right below the grid, the first two results were right on target. The image was of the DuPont de Nemours mansion in Wilmington Delaware.

Google Search by image results
Google Search by image results

Potential uses

There are numerous uses for this tool. Some include identifying things such as:

  • People past and present. 
  • Structures
  • Monuments
  • Tools
  • Art such as paintings and sculpture. 
  • If you are a webmaster, this tool might help determine if people are stealing your images. You can do some random searches for images you posted on your sites. 

The tool has limitations. For example, if you upload this image of a caboose, the results will be red cabooses and trains. This particular picture was taken at the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum in Strasburg Pennsylvania. 

Image of a caboose
Image of a caboose

Sidenote – Copyright Trolls

This type of technology is used by copyright trolls. These are firms full of lawyers who purchase image libraries, then scan the internet looking for ‘their’ pictures. When they find unlicensed usage, they threaten huge lawsuits.

Summary

This is an amazing and somewhat creepy tool. It could be used for nefarious purposes or it could be used by webmasters or models to determine if their pictures are being used without permission. This technology is similar to that which allows you to tag faces of people and pets in a Google Photos album

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One Response to Want to know what that pic is?? search by uploading an image.

  • Pingback: Be VERY wary of the copyright trolls when using images.

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