How to Search Images Online – Most Advanced Methods

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Image search is evolving rapidly. Today the machine understands much more about images than just a year ago: it can read the text on the image, see its colors and classify it based on its form, shape and textures. So which advanced image search methods can we use today?

Image search based on image content

(face / landscape / photo / product image search)

Face search has been a hot topic recently.

Face Search

  • Exalead has become known for integrating facial recognition technology but it still lacks some accuracy. I tried searching [Paris] there using “face” filter and did get a lot of faces (along with a few non-facial images).
  • PicItUp offers a “face” filter and also fails to return only relevant results. Among other advanced image search options, the service also allows for “landscape” and image “product” search.
  • Google images also employ face search (with imgtype=face added to the string) that seems to return most relevant results (well, no wonder). Google images has also recently introduced “photo content” image search.
    • Face Search is a dedicated face search engine powered by Google search.

Image search based on color

Color search

  • Picitup allows to set color preferences (choose among 18 colors to set the search dominating palette);
  • PicSearch and recognize between colorful and black-and-white images.
  • Etsy searches only inside its own product database but its color-based search engine is both fun and pleasure to play with.

Image search based on similarity

Similarity search

Recently launched (registration required) searches for similar images online. While the database size still leaves much to be desired, this type of image “reversed” search is a great move. Like Etsy color search, that’s one of those search types requiring no keywords at all.

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

Brand amd Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing,... Read Full Bio
Ann Smarty
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  • Rich Hill

    Thanks very helpful. Now if we could just find a way to search for Creative Commons images that would be great. There is a filter on flickr but it is all very confusing.

  • Maing

    The best thing about TinEye is the firefox plugin

  • Web Optimization & Content Development

    Very useful when searching for images that could be used on a web that has a certain color palette or a certain theme.

  • Jessica Antoinette Farnsworth

    Ann, you find the most useful things that I never knew about. Thanks and I want you to know how much your posts are appreciated.


  • Ann Smarty

    @ Jessica, thank you so much. I highly appreciate your feedback.

  • Charlie Anzman

    Nice finds Ann!

  • Leila Boujnane

    Ann: great post. Thanks for mentioning our search engine TinEye. I noticed that one of your readers was wondering about creative commons search and here is an interesting link (I am biased 🙂 since this is one of our labs) but here you go: we developed an image search lab where you can search 10 million creative commons images using colour only. You can pick up to 10 colours for your search:
    Nice finds for your post!

  • Wpromote

    Thanks for posting. This is going to come in handy for future reference.

  • Ravindran Asari K

    I am a librarian by profession. I am interested in online search techniques. Image searching quite interesting. I am enthused by your site. Let me know more.
    Thank you
    Ravindran Asari