How To Do a Reverse Image Search

Google Image Search

Did you know that you can search the internet using images?

It sounds like a dream come true, and it is for many people. If you are lying about your online identity, you may have a different opinion.


There are a few reasons why authors should regularly do reverse image searches:

1. It reveals plagiarism.

Pinning a picture isn’t plagiarism, but using one on your site without accreditation is. If you are using a stock image, it might not be plagiarism. The other author may have bought the same image you did. This is why it’s a good idea to customize images or use your original ones.

2. It shows where you’ve been quoted.

If you have a set profile picture, I recommend plugging it in for a reverse image search. There are many times people re-post or share posts without telling the author, yet they will use the author’s photo in an attempt to accredit them. 

3. It’s an easy way to get links.

If someone has used one of your images without permission, make the most of the opportunity. Instead of reporting them, reach out to them and ask if they will remedy the situation by providing a link to your site. 

You can usually find people’s contact information on their website or you can tweet them publicly. If you choose either path, make sure that your message is short, sweet, and to the point. You don’t need to be apologetic. If you aren’t sure what to say, try the following: 

Dear ____, 

I noticed that you used my ___________ on your site. I’m flattered! Could you make it easy for people to find me by providing a link to my site? I’d really appreciate it. 


Awesome Author

4. Find out if people are real.

Putting in your photo is a great way to find out if you are being impersonated online. If you are, you can report the impostor. There are television shows who use reverse image search to reveal if people are lying about their identity on online dating programs. The bottom line is that lying is bad and you will be found out. 


How to do a reverse image search with Google:

Google Reverse Image Search

1. Go to to begin the process.

2. Click on the camera image in the search bar.

reverse image search

3. Use a screen capture or the original image in your search. You can also paste the image url into the area.

4. Click “Search by image.”

Google will pull up a list of places the image was used, if at all. You will also be shown visually similar images. Once you find your image, start your investigation.

The process is also similar for TinEye, another reverse image search. I recommend using the same image with both search engines to see which one provides you with more results.

It’s your turn!

– Have you used Google Images or TinEye to search images online?

– How do you reach out to people who have used your work without permission?

10 Responses to How To Do a Reverse Image Search

  1. Michael Kelberer June 4, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    Hi Caitlikn,
    I gave it two tests:
    1. I uploaded a jpg of an Arlo and Janis cartoon I had downloaded from, and it couldn’t find it anywhere. Even when i added the descriptor “Arlo and Janis” – it found a bunch of A&J cartoons, but not the one in question.
    2. On the other hand, I uploaded a headshot of myself that I use on my website, and it found all of the site pages that it was on. I’m pretty sure it exists nowhere else, so this was spot on.
    3. On the other hand, the set of “Visually similar” images it pulled up were very very dissimilar to mine, visually, so what they mean by Visually Similar is unknown and, knowing Google, very geeky, but certainly not what the actual words mean :-)

  2. Julie H. Ferguson June 4, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

    My image URLs from my Flickr images are returned saying the URL doesn’t exist. Can you help with this as this location where most images are stolen from?

  3. Vinod Kumar June 11, 2013 at 12:55 am #

    Great tips Caitlin. I would like to know more how to earn visitors and revenue though image search. After Image search update by Google, how to increase traffic by google image search

  4. iRina August 6, 2013 at 7:35 am # is another reverse image search engine capable to proccess image and hybrid queries. I use it to find oddball content or ideas.

  5. Judi September 23, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    Okay. I go to google images and there IS no camera picture to click on to add the image. What gives? I am on an iPad.

    • Luvster February 24, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

      Same here on Sgt3

      • leah January 12, 2015 at 10:42 pm #

        As well as Sgt4…..

  6. MixSprouts January 23, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    I have also written almost similar article about image search (reverse image search). Now I am planning to write something more on it.

  7. Ruby April 28, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

    ImageWiki – is another image search engine out there meant specifically for photographers

  8. Patricia October 9, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

    How can I reverse search pictures from my Ipad ?
    thanking you in advance for your help