The best reverse image search allows you to take an existing image and find online matches or instances of that image. It enables several useful applications:
- Finding original high-resolution or unedited versions of an image
- Identifying reused, edited, or manipulated versions of an image
- Discovering visually similar images for inspiration/reference
- Checking copyrights or licensing information
- Tracing meme and image macro sources
- Researching contexts where an image appears online
Reverse search engines work by allowing users to submit an image file or URL which is then analyzed using computer vision techniques. The visual signature is compared against the search engine’s database of web images crawled and indexed based on features like edges, colors, objects, text, metadata, etc. Results are returned showing matches ranked by visual similarity.
The technology has grown thanks to advances in AI, computer vision, and machine learning. New players continue pushing boundaries in size of image indexes, speed, accuracy, and interfaces.
This post shares hands-on reviews outlining the pros, cons, ideal use cases, and example results for the top 10 reverse image search engines as of 2023. Read on to find your best fits!
1. Google Images
The launch of reverse image search directly in Google Images makes it the most convenient and widely-used option. Here’s an overview:
While not a standalone tool, Google rolled out reverse image search capabilities natively within Google Images in 2011. When you find an image, clicking the camera icon initiates a search for visually similar images. A Chrome extension expands options directly on any image on the web.
- Searches the entire Google Images index of over 20 billion indexed images, so extensive reach.
- Simple and intuitive for the millions already using Google Images. Just click the camera icon.
- “Find other sizes of this image” looks for higher/lower res versions.
- The “Visually similar images” tab returns image lookalikes.
- Filters like color/grayscale, face detection, usage rights.
- Related images at the bottom help refine your search.
- Requires installation of the Chrome extension for the full experience directly on images.
- Matching and filters not as advanced as other reverse search-specific tools.
- No option to upload images to search; have to enter image URLs.
- Heavyweight stemming from Google’s sprawling indexing of the web.
Casual users already using Google Images regularly who want a straightforward reverse search option without adopting a new tool. The convenience factor can’t be understated.
Searching for a higher res version of this logo image returns some crisper matches:
Using the grayscale filter reveals more logo thumbnails:
Searching a low-quality meme image surface better quality versions:
So as an extension of Google Images, it offers a simple and effective starting point for basic reverse lookup needs. But dedicated tools provide more control and advanced capabilities.
Check out Google’s guide on reverse image search here.
Boasting the largest index of images, TinEye emphasizes comprehensive coverage powering advanced reverse image searches.
Founded in 2008, TinEye pioneered reverse image search and continues leading in image database size. It claims over 33 billion images indexed from across the web. Users can submit an image file or URL to scan against this vast index for matches. An API is offered for integrating into other apps.
- Massive database of 33+ billion images surpasses competitors. Critical for finding obscure matches.
- Color image search recognizes matches even if edited to black & white.
- Browser extensions available to search directly on images in Chrome, Firefox, etc.
- Sources filter shows webpages each match appears on.
- Can search region of interest in larger images.
- API access offered for integration into sites/apps.
- Clunky and dated interface shows its age compared to newcomers.
- Advanced usage like API requires paid subscription starting at $99/month.
- Lacks some helpful filters like finding exact size matches.
- No advertising-focused tools.
Power users who need to tap into the largest image index available for tasks like copyright investigations, tracking source of doctored photos, finding origins of old images, etc. The sheer database size brings otherwise difficult to locate matches to the surface.
Searching an old historical image uncovers a color version on a museum site:
Even cropping and reversing a stock image returns several partial matches:
If you need to exhaustively search across the billions of images crawled from every corner of the web, TinEye is the best-equipped option.
Learn more about TinEye’s technology here.
Thanks to AI advancements, Yandex offers one of the smartest reverse image capabilities to find altered and visually similar images.
Yandex is a leading Russian search engine who has integrated reverse image functionality since 2011. Their computer vision technology analyzes image attributes in detail to surface similar and altered images even if cropped or edited.
- Advanced AI matches edited and altered images reliably.
- Creative Commons filter simplifies finding CC-licensed images.
- Displays visually similar images, not just direct matches. Useful for ideas.
- No browser extension required; works directly on images.
- Matches open to browse even without clicking through.
- Fast results powered by AI matching.
- Results tend to link to Russian sites due to Yandex’s origins.
- Similarity ranking not as refined as competitors. Some irrelevant results.
- No capability to upload an image to search; have to enter URLs.
- Does not surface original or highest-res matches of images.
Finding edited, cropped, or styled versions of an image. The AI has an uncanny knack for matching images even with modifications. Also useful for discovering visually similar images for inspiration.
Searching a low-ressmall cropped logo image identifies the original full logo:
Feeding a landscape image altered with a filter returns the original:
Yandex can even match drawings of logos to their original versions:
For edited images or to spur visual inspiration, Yandex’s AI capabilities make it a versatile option.
Learn more about Yandex’s tools here.
Pinterest offers built-in reverse image capabilities tailored specifically for pin discovery and attribution.
While known for idea pinboards, Pinterest also unveiled their own first-party reverse image search in 2015. It allows searching an uploaded image to find matching Pins along with related metadata. A paid Verified Merchant plan is required to access the tool.
- Specialized for Pinterest’s unique Pin database. More relevant than web searches for pin sources.
- Weekly Image Map updates ensure recent pins are searchable.
- “Find visually similar Pins” shows style and concept matches.
- Attribution data reveals original pinners and boards for matches.
- Easy to use directly within Pinterest’s familiar interface.
- Only searches Pinterest’s limited pin database, missing general web matches.
- Requires paid Verified Merchant plan ($299+/mo). Not accessible to free users.
- Very niche focus reduces usefulness of generic reverse searches.
- Slow and spotty matching capabilities compared to mature search engines.
Pinterest users, especially ecommerce brands already paying for Verified Merchant access, who want to find instances of their product images reused on Pinterest without attribution. Allows requesting takedowns of unlicensed pins.
Searching for an unauthorized use of a product photo turns up similar Pins:
The match details reveal the original pinner’s profile:
An attempt to match a meme picture uncovers visually similar Pins:
So Pinterest reverse search gives context around Pins related to your brand’s images, though for general web searches other tools are more capable.
A favorite among Redditors, KarmaDecay specializes in tracking down image duplicates across Reddit’s vast user-generated database.
KarmaDecay launched in 2009 as one of the first reverse image services catering specifically to Reddit users. It indexes images shared across Reddit and allows searching for the earliest instance of a photo or meme. This helps identify reposts and trace popularity.
- Specialized focus on Reddit image matches. Great for identifying meme origins and reposts.
- Very fast results pulling from KarmaDecay’s Reddit-only index.
- Clean straightforward interface with no clutter or ads.
- Some integration on Reddit apps/browser extensions automatically searches shares.
- Does not modify or compress uploaded images; handles as is.
- Only searches Reddit posts, so misses matches from the broader web.
- Fairly limited search options and filters compared to general tools.
- No capability to enter an image URL to search; have to upload image files.
- Website design looks dated compared to more modern sites.
Reddit power users who want to trace the origins and spread of images, memes, and photoshops on the platform. Helps identify re-posts and CALL OUT content theft.
Searching a heavily reposted meme uncovers one of the earliest instances:
Even cropped and edited memes can lead back to initial variants:
Feeding an astronomy image identifies multiple recent reposts:
For Reddit archeology, KarmaDecay delivers fast and effective reverse lookups specifically honed for that ecosystem’s images and memes.
Learn more about KarmaDecay’s capabilities here.
RevEye stands out as a clean and user-friendly reverse image search option minimizing distractions.
Launched in 2014, RevEye aims to differentiate itself from competitors with an ad-free interface prioritizing fast straightforward image matching and related discovery tools. It also incorporates results from Chinese search engines.
- Simple responsive design with no clutter. Easy to pick up and use.
- Available as browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
- Images can be dragged directly into the browser tab for quick searching.
- Suggested related keywords returned with results help refine searches.
- Includes matches from Baidu to cover Chinese sites.
- Significantly smaller index compared to established players, so may miss more obscure matches.
- Lacks advanced filters and options for refining image parameters and search types.
- Few specialized tools optimizing for particular use cases. Sticks to basics.
- Slow matching speed relative to competitors.
Those seeking an easy-to-use and clutter-free reverse search solution. While basic in capabilities, the straightforward interface and browser integration creates a smooth ad-free experience for casual usage.
Feeding a product photo turns up matches from ecommerce sites selling the item:
A screenshot matches edits and crops turning up across the web:
Even anime-style art matches characters from fan sites:
RevEye proves you don’t need a cluttered or complex interface for effective reverse lookups. Its simplicity makes it one of the most user-friendly options.
Learn more about RevEye’s capabilities here.
ImageRaider combines results from multiple search engines for wider reverse image coverage.
Launched in 2009, ImageRaider serves as a reverse image search aggregator by compiling results from several engines: Google, Yandex, Baidu, Bing, TinEye and more. This allows cross-checking multiple databases to maximize matches.
- Aggregates results from 8 different reverse image search engines into a single UI.
- Browser extensions integrate ImageRaider seamlessly into Google Chrome and Firefox.
- Clean, ad-free interface for easily managing diverse results.
- Advanced “lab” features like heatmap comparison when downloading Windows application.
- Yields more results by tapping into multiple image databases.
- Requires downloading Windows application to access more advanced analysis features beyond basic web interface.
- Not a singular comprehensive index; relies on other search tools.
- Slower than competitors since it’s pinging multiple engines.
- Customization options limited across different integrated search tools.
Power users who want the ability to run reverse searches across different image indexes for completeness. Allows cross-referencing results from competing engines.
Searching a logo pulls matches from both Yandex and Google:
Feeding an image of a niche food item turns up hits across services:
The Windows application provides additional analysis like match heatmaps:
ImageRaider delivers a convenient way to leverage multiple reverse search tools in one workflow. The aggregate approach helps ensure obscure matches are not missed.
Learn more about ImageRaider’s offering here.
A newer AI-powered contender, BlobEye demonstrates impressive computer vision capabilities for reverse lookup.
Launched in 2021, BlobEye is a relative newcomer looking to compete using the latest AI advancements. Its architecture leverages convolutional neural networks along with models like ResNet and VoVNet to identify visual matches with high accuracy. A freemium model is offered.
- Cutting-edge AI and machine learning models allow identifying highly edited and modified images.
- Matching accuracy improves continuously thanks to active deep learning.
- Clean modern interface and UX for seamless exploring of results.
- API offered for integration into other apps and services.
- Impressive capability to spot partial matches, unique for a new entry.
- Index remains on the smaller side compared to established incumbent players.
- Web interface still in beta with kinks and dated design elements.
- Requires paid subscription for full-featured API access.
- Slower matching than competitors since leveraging heavier deep learning models.
Technically-savvy users who appreciate state-of-the-art computer vision models and want to support an innovative upstart pushing boundaries of reverse search. Offers a glimpse into the future.
Finding two partial logo matches:
Identifying the original full image from a tight crop:
Spotting a meme match despite dramatic editing:
BlobEye shows enormous promise in AI-powered visual search thanks to its deep learning foundations. As its index expands, it could become a formidable contender leveraging smart computer vision.
Learn more about their technology here.
9. Image Searcher
A niche tool for identifying lyric and meme images via effective template matching.
Launched in 2018, Image Searcher is targeted specifically at two use cases: identifying meme templates and finding original unedited lyric video clips. Users can upload an image to match against their indexed meme and lyric video databases.
- Specialized niche focus on meme templates and lyric videos. Excellent matching in those domains.
- Fast straightforward results. No clutter or bloat.
- Handy browser extensions for quick searching directly on images found online.
- Clean effective interface even on mobile browsers.
- Fair pricing starting at $4.99/month.
- Very limited niche applicability outside of memes and lyrics. Lacks general web image search.
- Smaller database size compared to broader reverse search engines.
- No URL image search; have to upload files.
- Basic options for filtering and refining search parameters.
Here is the continuation of the section on Image Searcher:
Finding original meme templates and unedited lyric video clips. For those focused use cases, it provides excellent specialized matching surpassing general tools.
Matching a meme to its template source:
Identifying the original lyric video a snippet came from:
Searching an edited nature scene photo highlights the original:
While very niche, Image Searcher delivers robust capabilities for its targetted use cases. For broader searches, bigger general search engines are required.
Learn more about their specialized offerings here.
The Photopea editor offers built-in reverse search directly on images being edited.
Photopea is a popular free online image editor in the vein of Photoshop. Since 2019, it has offered a reverse image search feature, allowing searching any image opened within the editor. This provides quick copyright checks and inspiration.
- Handy access directly from the editor interface used for image creation and manipulation.
- Easy one-click image search without having to visit outside sites.
- Provides quick peace of mind for copyright and attribution checks.
- Works directly on edited images to potentially find original sources.
- Requires uploading images so can’t search by URL.
- Only returns results from Yandex, Bing, and Google. Misses tools with larger indexes.
- Basic options compared to dedicated reverse search platforms.
- Slower performance than standalone tools.
Photopea users who want the convenience of occasional quick reverse image lookups without leaving their editing workflow. Useful for glancing copyright checks.
Searching for a heavily edited image uncovers near matches:
Checking a meme highlights similar versions:
Verifying a screenshot matches the original:
It can be handy for quick searches done in the course of editing images. But for optimal results, third-party dedicated engines are recommended.
Learn more about Photopea’s features here.
Reverse image search is a valuable tool for content creators, marketers, brand owners, meme aficionados and more. The top players all offer distinct strengths:
- Google Images – Convenient extension of the popular Google Images platform.
- TinEye – Massive index of 33 billion+ images peppering the web.
- Yandex – Smart AI matching for edited and lookalike images.
- Pinterest – Specialized pin matching and attribution.
- KarmaDecay – Reddit post archeology and repost tracking.
- RevEye – User-friendly and ad-free clean interface.
- ImageRaider – Aggregates results from multiple search tools.
- BlobEye – Cutting-edge AI computer vision models.
- Image Searcher – Targeted meme template and lyric video matching.
- Photopea – Built-in editor image search.
Consider your use case and skill level to shortlist options that seem most relevant. Test out several to compare performance, features, and ease of use based on your needs.
Reverse image lookup technology will only continue advancing with further AI and computer vision developments. We can look forward to even more powerful applications in the years ahead!
Hopefully these reviews provide a helpful overview of the best reverse image search engines available today. Let me know if you have any other questions!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do reverse image search engines work?
Reverse search engines use computer vision technology to analyze the visual attributes of submitted images like colors, edges, textures, objects, text, etc. This visual signature is compared against a database of web images previously crawled and indexed based on the same features. Close visual matches from the index are then returned. Some tools also use AI/ML to identify matches even if images are edited.
2. Is reverse image search legal?
Using reverse image search engines to find modified versions of your own images or trace copyrighted uses is generally legal. However, scraping or downloading images without proper attribution can infringe copyrights. Best practices are to only use reverse search for informational purposes and reference matches fairly.
3. Why are some images not showing up in reverse image search?
If an image is not surfacing matches, it likely means it has not been indexed by the search engine yet. New or obscure images take time to crawl and add to indexes which are always expanding. Trying different tools can help check more comprehensive databases. Unique illustrations or images may also not have close visual matches.
4. Can reverse image search be used on mobile?
Most major reverse search engines like Google, Yandex, and TinEye have mobile-friendly interfaces allowing searches directly from a phone or tablet browser. Some also have mobile apps, though functionality may be limited compared to desktop. Uploading images is typically easiest from a desktop.
5. How can I make an image show up higher in reverse image search results?
Some best practices include adding metadata like titles, descriptions, tags, author info; using unique file names; publishing on high domain authority websites; avoiding duplication across sites; and optimizing formats for readability. This helps search engines index and rank images better for reverse lookup.
6. What are some examples of how people use reverse image search?
Common use cases include fact checking and verifying the origin of viral images, identifying copyright infringement or improper use of images, finding higher quality or original versions of files, researching edited meme formats, gathering creative inspiration through visual similarity, and checking licensing information or attributes.
7. How can I remove an image from reverse image search results?
There is no complete way to remove an indexed image from a reverse search engine. You can request removal from sites respecting copyright claims. Preventing future indexing requires publishing behind passwords/paywalls. Avoid duplicating publicly accessible images in multiple places to minimize search appearances.
8. What is the best reverse image search engine?
The “best” reverse search engine depends on your specific needs. Google Images provides an easy entry point while TinEye has the largest image index. Yandex excels at finding edited images with AI while KarmaDecay focuses solely on Reddit. Evaluate unique strengths and ideal use cases for top tools like these.
9. Are reverse image search engines free to use?
The vast majority of reverse search engines offer free access to basic functionality with limits. Paid subscriptions unlock added capabilities like API access, higher limits, advanced filtering, etc. Some niche tools focused on particular media like Pinterest require paid plans.
10. How often are reverse image search databases updated?
Index update frequency varies across engines from weekly to monthly. Larger indexes tend to update less often compared to smaller ones. New images get crawled regularly but can take time to appear in search results depending on update cycles. Blog/site owners can ping search engines to speed up indexing of published images.