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Quickly locate similar images using the powerful Google Search by Image extension

16 June 2011, Nick Peers

Google has rolled out its new “Search by image” function that allows users to search the web using an actual image or photo as the basis of the search. The service is available at http://images.google.com where a small camera icon now resides in the Search box. Clicking this allows the user to specify an image URL or upload a photo from their computer to search with.

In addition to this, Google has also released Search by Image extensions for both Chrome and Firefox browsers that serve as a shortcut  to the feature by allowing users to right-click any interesting image and choose “Search Google with this image”.

Google Search by Image offers three types of result: the first is to try and help identify the image – if it thinks it can do so, it’ll list a number of websites you can visit to confirm this and learn more about the image in question.

Search by Image will also look for identical images and return these results too, complete with a link to the website they came from. There’s also details of the image’s resolution, which can prove helpful if you’re looking for an image at a different size to the original.

The final option is the most intriguing, but as of yet the least developed. Search by Image will also look for “visually similar” images, based on the image composition. Results will work best with famous and iconic images, otherwise results tend to include photos of a similar colour, brightness or location (so looking for a long shot of Barack Obama sitting in a canteen will produce shots of similar-looking canteens, not snapshots of the 44th President of the United States).

Any computer user can upload a photo or paste in a URL of an image to http://images.google.com, while browser extensions are also available for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.

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