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Revolutionary: Google’s new Image Search ‘search by image’


Picture editors of the world rejoice as one!

…but, well, pretty much everyone else, after a brief moment of amazement, go back to your normal day to day tasks. That’s been the case so far, at least.

Google Images has learned an incredible new skill; the ability to search in response to a picture, rather than mere words. Imagine, for example, you’re looking for sepia photos of Victorian schoolchildren? (Why not?) Once you’ve found one, simply dragging that first image into the search box allows google to find heaps more. Just what you wanted.

Impressive, sure, but also somewhat niche. Besides long-dead schoolchildren, what else could this possibly be useful for? Actually, quite an enormous lot of things, that’s what.

First off, then, a demonstration. Secondly, a round up up 10 ways that this technology could genuinely change your life (even if you don’t happen to work on a newspaper’s picture desk!)

5-Step Demo

1 – Go to

google images step 1

2 – Type in “monkey swinging from a tree” (or similar) and hit enter.


3 – Ooh, that one’s good! Drag it into the search bar (or drag ANY image from ANYWHERE.)

google images step 3

4 – Google figures out what it is, what it looks like, and offers you similar results. Magic!

google images step 4

5 – Actually, a similar pic with tigers would work better. So add a clarifying term ‘tiger’. Go!

google images step 5

How Google Images could change your life…



1 – Holiday snaps – Remembering elusive locations

Where oh where was that incredible hotel we visited in 2003? Was it the Costa Del Sol? Or perhaps Littlehampton? Google a few pictures, try some clarifying search terms ‘Spain’ /  ‘hotel’ / ‘holiday’. There it is! Let’s book ourselves a weekend break.


2 – Paint-less decorating

What would your living room look like with red patterned wallpaper? Surely someone out there has a similar setup. Upload a picture of your room, add the search terms ‘red’ / ‘pattern’ / ‘wallpaper’ and explore the possibilities.


3 – Shopping price comparisons

Forget bar-codes. Simply snap a picture of the washing powder you find in Sainsbury’s to run a price comparison with Tesco, Asda, Morrison’s, HMV (assuming HMV have diversified into soap powder sales by then to combat an increasingly-threatened music industry.)


4 – Fashion shopping

Like what you wear? Upload a picture of yourself, see what else comes up, then buy it. Don’t like what you wear? Upload a picture of someone else, see what comes up then buy that.


5 – Birdwatching

Photographed a bird or beast you can’t identify? Perhaps google images can help…!


6 – Replacing the Antiques Roadshow

Who needs experts when it comes to antique valuations? Googling an image of your loft-dusted liquor decanters could provide direct leads to similar auctions past. Even better than an educated guess, this technique would provide genuine previous-sale values.


7 – Through the keyhole

Stalkers needn’t prowl the streets in search of houses they’ve spotted in OK or Hello. Simply upload a street or house photo and Google does the legwork for you. Also works for less-illegal location searching activity.


8 – Art criticism

Don’t find yourself stumped when offering commentary on an art exhibiton (as so many of us often are). Instead, click a crafty pic on your phone, check Google’s similar artist suggestions, then offer critiques such as “The brushstrokes are eerily akin to those of Rembrandt’s later work” or even try “It’s clearly fraudulent copy of Matisse, shall I call the fuzz or will you?”

Saint Claire

9 – Art estimation

Two main factors affect the price of art; quality and scarcity. Google can help with the latter. Search a painting. If Google’s stuck for similarities, you’ve got yourself a rare gem. If it finds a hoard of similars, tough luck.


10 – I want another one of those

Chances are, if you bought something a while back, you’ll have forgotten where it’s from. Desk lamps, picture frames, stationary, furniture… Google image search is ideal for locating a retailer who sells the matching product you need.



Although a few of the 10 ideas above might prove patchy now, expect at least a few to become reality within the next couple of years.

All images in this post were sourced using the methods above mentioned. Try dragging them from this post directly into a Google Image search box to find where they’re from.


Try Google Image Search by Image NOW

Try Google Images’ new search-by-image feature for yourself at

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