Online search algorithms are a highly fluid collection of rules and data manipulations to allow us searching users to find what we want. Sometimes however, words are not quite enough. In order to widen our capabilities in searching online, Google has come up with a search by image function.
This is a new addition to the to the existing Google image search functionality. It has been around for a couple of months now but there seems to be low visibility for this feature in general; usually, new Google features are publicized quite well widely and in advance.
Maybe they need to test the water first before they market this image search facility too heavily.
There are 4 ways in which to search by image:
- You can drag and drop an image from a file manager folder or other drag-able location such as the download bar into the icon at images.google.com
- You can upload an image by clicking on the camera icon
- You can right-click on an image online and from the dropdown menu select <copy the image URL> and then go to images.google.com and right-click on the camera icon. The dropdown menu from there will allow you to paste the URL of the image.
- If you have the wherewithal to install an extension into your Chrome or Firefox browser (no MS Explorer plugin is available at this time yawn yawn….) you can have the quickest of all the image search options. With this plugin installed you can right-click on an image anywhere on the Internet and Google will perform a search for you. That sounds really useful in my line of work where I am looking for suitable images all the time.
Here’s a video from Google about it:
So how does this all work in practice?
Pretty well in fact is my verdict. I searched for my own profile pic and it found that pretty quickly, with a number of locations displayed. It didn’t find every location though so its use must be limited somehow. Most were from LinkedIn -type places Possibly scaling can cause problems in locating every online instance of an image. One reason I could think of that the Google image search would be extremely useful is in replacing your profile picture when you have a new one you want to use.
How might Google image search be of use?
You might well ask. If you are anything like me you might have profile pictures all over the place. I know mine is on at least 20 locations online and it is overdue for an update. Not that my current pic is that old, it was taken in 2007, so I it is probably time for a fresh picture except that I have so many profiles that changing the picture on of them is not only quite a chore, but it is also hard to remember or find references to where I created them. My email is a good start and I do filter messages into mailboxes but it is still difficult to locate all those profiles as my mailbox contents age; I am now at 50% of my Gmail mailbox limit so there’s a lot of messages in there to go through, even with the aid of search!
Locating all my image occurrences online should enable me to find all those profiles in one place using the Google image search – in theory. If it worked effectively, this could turn out to be a real time-saver for people like me with so many profiles. I have to have them all because of the work I do. Everyone wants you to be part of their “thing”. It is one of the features of Facebook et al. that once you sign up somewhere, to socially network, you need to be part of the networks and that requires, yes, a profile. You can’t even copy a profile from one place to the next. What is needed is an open-source profile exchange, so that when we sign up somewhere, all the details are passed on automatically. I personally am tired of typing in my own details and there is only so much an automated form-filler can do.
Google image search would help you change all those profile images but what about the rest of your info? Google products allow a lot of sharing when you log in as a Gmail user to use webmaster tools etc. but there is no sharing outside the Google profile. It would be so nice to be able to arrive at a site and just register through a central profile. Think about it Mr & Mrs Google…”there’s gold in them hills.”