Searching Using Google Images

Google is great for finding images! They even have the nifty image tab on the home page to search specifically for them.

Just as with searching for non-images in Google, searching for images has several tricks. Some I figured out on my own, but changes Google made with image searching made them easier to do (see the part about the sidebar below). Others I learned back in July when I took Google’s Power Searching with Google Class. As a reminder, as with all searching, operators such as Boolean, truncation, and enclosing phrases in quotes still work with images.

Let’s break this into two categories:  Google Images Sidebar and Searching Using an Image.

Google Images Hidden Menu (formerly Sidebar):

The Google Images hidden menu does not appear on the initial Google Images search screen. One must search for something first and it becomes available with the results. To activate the hidden menu click the “Search Tools” option under the search box.  All of the below options were once part of the Advanced Search and Sidebar.

Here’s a top-to-bottom break down of what each option does:

Any Time: A searcher can limit to images placed online at a certain time. It provides options for “Last 24 hours,” “Past week,” and “Custom Range.”

All Results: This offers the option to search “By Subject.” When you click on this, it breaks up the images into categories. For example, if I searched Italy and then selected “By Subject” a few categories would be “Venice, Italy,” “Italy Map,” “Rome, Italy,” and “Italy Flag.” Clicking on one option limits the results to just that category.

Any Size: This feature offers searchers the chance to pick a particle file size one wants for an image. Options range from icon-sized to large and there are an options for “Larger Than…” and “Exactly…”

Any Color: This option offers the chance to search for just black and white or full color images and provides a color palate. By clicking on “Black and White” or “Full Color,” a searcher gets those results. What is neat with this option is that if you clicked on a color in the palate, it will limit the search to only images in which that color is predominate.

Any Type: Searching by type allows a searcher to limit results to either images with a face, a photo image, a line drawing, or clip art.

Searching Using an Image:

Before taking the Power Searching with Google class, I never knew this could be done on the computer! I did know this type of searching was available on Android phones and iPhones, the latter via the Google app. The way it worked on the smartphones was that someone could take a photo with their phone while on Google and Google would search for the image. Little did I know that the smartphone version was only a preview of what was to come!

Here are the steps:

  1. While on a computer, searching with an image instead of text is possible by beginning on Google’s homepage and selecting the image search.
  2. Resize the browser window to be about half of the computer’s screen size.
  3. Either open the folder with the photo that needs to be searched or have it ready ahead of time on the desktop.
  4. Click on the image and drag it into the search box. The search will begin when the image is released.
  5. The results page will come up. From this Google guesses what the image is, displays “visually similar” images, and provide related text-based documents.

You also have the option to avoid steps 2-4 by clicking on the camera icon in the search box to upload a file or enter the URL of a photo that one would like to search.

If you plan to take a photo of an object to search, the Power Searching class suggests a white background.

Isn’t that neat? Now if only they can integrate a webcam search into the feature! That would be marvelous! Google, are you listening?

Edit: January 20, 2013 for noting removal to the sidebar to a hidden menu.


3 thoughts on “Searching Using Google Images

  1. Pingback: Advanced Searching Techniques « Amy's Scrap Bag: A Blog About Libraries, Archives, and History

  2. Pingback: Searching for Creative Commons and Public Domain Images « Amy's Scrap Bag: A Blog About Libraries, Archives, and History

  3. Pingback: More Creative Commons and Free Image Searching | Amy's Scrap Bag: A Blog About Libraries, Archives, and History

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