Being a Digital Detective with Google Image Search

Alan BelniakGeneral, Marketing, technology1 Comment

You probably know about Google Image search: enter a word or phrase, and see several images that match that.  This is great for blog posts or spicing up that otherwise boring PowerPoint deck (with proper attribution, of course).  However, there’s another, much cooler way one can use Google Image search.  And that’s by searching with an image, instead of a search term.


“Huh?” you might be asking…  Read on.


Google even documents this on their support site, though you’d have to dig around to find it.  I learned about it in the Google Power Search Class.  Here’s how to do it, and how it can be used.


Open the Google Image search page (you can go to and click images from the top bar, or go directly ot  From here, you have two choices…


[1] Ensure that your browser isn’t maximized.  Get the image with which you’d like to search, and click/hold/drag it into the text box where you’d normally type text.  Release, and await the results.


Google image drag and drop (as seen on


You’ll now see a results page for images that match/resemble what you brought into Google.  Presumably, it’s using some sort of pixel/color depth matching routine, because you’ll see that not all of the results are exact.


[2] Instead of that, click on the little camera icon at the end of the text entry bar.  Then, either paste the image URL or point to a file on your computer locally.


Uploading an image to Google Image search (as seen on

 Uploading an image to Google Image search [part 2] (as seen on

The same net result will happen.


Here’s a way to test this.  If you use the same avatar or profile image across multiple social network sites, use that in your test, and check out the results.  Pretty neat, huh?


So, how can you use this?


In the Google Power Searching class, the instructor uses an example of finding an odd fastener or screw in his basement while cleaning it out.  He couldn’t figure out where it belonged.  So, he took a picture of it with a camera (one could even use a camera phone), and submitted that into the Google image search.  Within minutes, he knew to what item the screw belonged.


Another way to use this is for brand identity and protection.  Let’s say that you work for a corporation where you’ve recently undergone a re-branding (like my current company, PTC), and want to see where older versions of past logos are being used.  Hop over to your local digital asset library, find a former logo, and search away.  Want to ensure that your profile isn’t being attributed incorrectly to text you didn’t write?  Ditto.  And lastly, want to make sure pictures of your kids are only in the places you authorized them to be?  Bingo (though that one may be a bit tougher, since, depending on age, many babies look the same).


Have you used Google Image search before?  Share below in the comments the creative or useful ways you’ve used it.


[sc:RSS_footer ]