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TinEye - The Reverse Image Search Engine

Updated on August 31, 2017

TinEye: An image search engine for finding copies of your pictures

TinEye is a different kind of search engine.

"It's being used by researchers who need to find where an image came from to provide attribution, even people who are trying to find out who people are in old photos. We had somebody who had a photograph of a soldier who'd arrived on the beach at Normandy and they couldn't find their name. They did a whole bunch of searches on TinEye and found a tiny little photo on an American website that listed everybody who'd gone to Normandy with a photograph. That's exactly when TinEye is useful, when you have an image but no words." TinEye CEO Leila Boujnane in an interview with PCPro

Rather than matching words, it matches images. It's also my favourite FireFox add-on! Your art and images - where are they now? TinEye can be used to find stolen art, as well as to track the spread of images and memes across the internet (Lolcats, anyone?)

"I love that icon! What a beautiful photo! Where is it from?"

If you see a wonderful banner, a painting you like the look of, an icon, or uncredited piece of art and you want to find out who painted it and where it came from, or even a Lolcat that you remember with a different caption, then TinEye can help!

First launched on May 6, 2008, it was beta only for a while, and now is freely available to everyone. You can find it at TinEye.com

Warning!

TinEye is addictive. I now automatically install the plugin on every computer I'm on! Including at work!

How can TinEye help you?

Why are you looking for pictures?

See results

Registration

The Benefits of Signing Up on TinEye

You don't have to have an account - and I hardly ever remember to log in to mine (I created it because it was required when still in beta mode)

But if you do sign up your searches are saved and you get permanent URL links to your searches that can be bookmarked, shared with friends, blogged, and so on - rather than discarded after 72 hours.

If you have, I'd be interested in hearing your stories! Please leave me a comment later in the lens sharing your experience?

(not a member and want to play? join now!)

Have You Used TinEye?

See results

How To Use TinEye - Searches and Plugins - Searching For Images


"We received a number of e-mails from companies that run online dating services and basically what their members have done is use TinEye to actually find out if a profile is fake"

Site users would submit profile images to TinEye and discover that they were freely available online. The Daily Herald Tribune

You can enter the image directly on the search page or you can install the Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer plugin or the Bookmarklet for any browser (which sits in your bookmarks and searches for images on whatever page you are one when you click it).

Getting the image URL

Rightclick on the picture

Select Copy image location/image URL from your browser popup menu (which it is varies between browers)

or

Enter the address of the page the picture is on. TinEye will pull all the images it can find and ask you which one you want to search for.

(It doesn't always get everything). This acts the same way as the Bookmarklet.

But the picture isn't online!

If you've got an old photo sitting on your hard drive and you want to know where it came from, you can upload a file directly to TinEye.

Restrictions: Up to one megabyte (1MB) and as a JPEG, GIF or PNG.

Or install the addon

...and simply rightclick on interesting images as you browse.

Searching For Images - A Video Walkthrough

(Note, this was made a year ago, when TinEye was still in beta mode)

Is TinEye Any Good? - What do you think?

(not a member and want to play? join now!)

Is it worth using TinEye to search for images?

You Suck At Zazzle #6: Image theft - If it's not yours - don't use it (unless it's free clip art allowed for commercial purposes!!)

Very many times, I've stumbled into an odd little Zazzle shop full of stolen images - each picture in a different style, blurry, of a popular and well known image, or even still with the signature of the original artist on.

From the gallery view (although not the product view because of the weird flash-zoom effect), a quick click and Tineye search often brings me straight to the original artist (usually on deviantART).

Examples of Success... My First Art Theft - Finding My Stolen Artwork - Symbolic Flows(Colours of the Imagination)

This is my most popular image in my Zazzle store, and my most viewed painting on RedBubble.

it is also my first known case of art theft...

Symbolic Flows - Colours of the Imagination

The TinEye search found it in another gallery on DeviantART - the file was renamed and wouldn't have come up when searching for related keywords. The user had uploaded it under their name and claimed ot have made it using a variety of (increasingly farfetched) techniques. (Actually, this last bit was just silly, as I tell everyone who bothers to read the description that it was painted in ArtRage)

(Note: the image has been taken down , since I reported it, but remains in the cache)

Finding Music - Search the album cover from your own photo!

Winter Fox: Example Search

TinEye and DeviantART

I picked a much more popular picture for my next demonstration - Winter Fox, a gorgeous photograph of a red fox standing in the snow, from Nate Zeman on DeviantART.

Understanding the Results - Identifying theft from searches, using the results

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This photograph brought up eighteen results.Note the size - the deviantART thumbnail view is about 100 pixels wide (varies with image)The thumbnail appears on user profile pages, when they favourite or feature a picture.In other words? Not theft.This allows you to eliminate half the searchAnd focus on the problems...
This photograph brought up eighteen results.
This photograph brought up eighteen results.
Note the size - the deviantART thumbnail view is about 100 pixels wide (varies with image)The thumbnail appears on user profile pages, when they favourite or feature a picture.In other words? Not theft.This allows you to eliminate half the search
Note the size - the deviantART thumbnail view is about 100 pixels wide (varies with image) The thumbnail appears on user profile pages, when they favourite or feature a picture. In other words? Not theft. This allows you to eliminate half the search
And focus on the problems...
And focus on the problems...

Finding The Artist - Finding the original artist through TinEye

Click thumbnail to view full-size
I searched on this cropped image of the 'island girl' in the hopes of finding the original artist.To my surprise, she pops up all over the internet - and is actually a mermaid! Now, twenty results isn't huge, but most will be useless.As you can see, there is a whole mix of images, including larger versions. Now, I know I have a modified versionFrom there I select the largest - one with a small signature in the corner. Unfortunately, it's still unreadable. It now looks like a photomanipulation (there's a carving behind her, and the rock and mermaid are much more detailed than the backgroundUnfortunately, it's the best match around - but it does bring up thirty four results, this time around.   A quick scan shows that most of them are blogs or photobucket accounts, nothing that looks like an artist's site (I check a few, but don't find
I searched on this cropped image of the 'island girl' in the hopes of finding the original artist.
I searched on this cropped image of the 'island girl' in the hopes of finding the original artist.
To my surprise, she pops up all over the internet - and is actually a mermaid! Now, twenty results isn't huge, but most will be useless.As you can see, there is a whole mix of images, including larger versions. Now, I know I have a modified version
To my surprise, she pops up all over the internet - and is actually a mermaid! Now, twenty results isn't huge, but most will be useless. As you can see, there is a whole mix of images, including larger versions. Now, I know I have a modified version
From there I select the largest - one with a small signature in the corner. Unfortunately, it's still unreadable. It now looks like a photomanipulation (there's a carving behind her, and the rock and mermaid are much more detailed than the background
From there I select the largest - one with a small signature in the corner. Unfortunately, it's still unreadable. It now looks like a photomanipulation (there's a carving behind her, and the rock and mermaid are much more detailed than the background
Unfortunately, it's the best match around - but it does bring up thirty four results, this time around.   A quick scan shows that most of them are blogs or photobucket accounts, nothing that looks like an artist's site (I check a few, but don't find
Unfortunately, it's the best match around - but it does bring up thirty four results, this time around. A quick scan shows that most of them are blogs or photobucket accounts, nothing that looks like an artist's site (I check a few, but don't find

Tracking Down Photographs From An Email - Finding the original picture

Someone sent my manager one of those memish 'Best Photographs of... [insert year here]" emails, with some rather fantastic photographs. Unfortunately, there was no credit given, and she wanted to know where they showed. A quick google found theoriginal site the email came from, which was equally unhelpful.

So I dived into TinEye. (Actually, first I installed it).

The results pages were many, so I found the biggest versions and started looking for official site names. And finally I found them... credited in the Guardian website, but not coming up in TinEye. Of course, all I had to do then was search for the original website, and voila!

I had found the National Geographic! And a bit of browsing through their galleries turned up the photos, and descriptions.

TinEye Failures: My Daily Deviation - What do you mean, nothing?

TinEye isn't perfect.. It began with 702 million pages, and as of the 22nd of October, it has indexed billions of images, and still isn't turning up most of my known duplicates. For example, this search on one of my stock images.

As you can see above, it found nothing.

This photo is my most popular stock image and has been downloaded over 600 times.

Finding Your Images In Other Ways - When TinEye fails you...

Google Similar Images allows you to find similar pictures from your results

Above, is an example of what I found when searching for the same picture I found through TinEye. As you can see it brings up more - but all are associated with my title and belong to me.

Google Image Search

You can search the title, the artist name, or the subject.

One trick of mine is searching part of the file name - eg (title).jpg and (title).png (of other formats - or (artist name)

this is obviously doesn't find images with the fileneames changed, but does find quite a few. Remember my stock photo?

Well, this is what I found...

(By the way - Google Image search also only brought back my original DeviantART page, so did no better than TinEye)

Clip Art - What if I want to find copyright-free images to use?

If you want pictures and can't draw or photograph or otherwise create them yourself, then you need to look at stock images and clipart. There are quite a lot of clip art packs available - they usually contain a CD-ROM (or several) of images. For stock sites, these usually cost money! But if you have a look around the web you should find quite a few.

Please leave me a comment!

Feedback! - Find anything useful?

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    • FlynntheCat1 profile image
      Author

      FlynntheCat1 6 years ago

      @EMangl: You can install the add-on for that as well - I have both now. They tend to find different sites, so both is good (thought Google finds more)

    • EMangl profile image

      EMangl 6 years ago

      i like tineye a lot, but images.google.com works now the same way - click the camera symbol in the search field and upload a picture or paste an url

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 6 years ago from Vermont

      You've done a wonderful job of presenting TinEye benefits and features .. thanks so much. Blessed by a visiting Angel ...

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Sometimes I wonder if any of my images have been "lifted" so I am tempted to try out Tin Eye.

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi! I'm adding this as a featured lens on my Plagiarism Sucks lens.

    • profile image

      acopson 7 years ago

      Its the first i have ever heard of this, its not something i would personally use, but my girlfriend would definitely

    • Utsahan profile image

      Utsahan 7 years ago

      Super. This is new to me. Interesting. I will surely look into it.

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 7 years ago from Upstate, NY

      I have a lens on parodies of the American Gothic painting. I used tineye and found a bunch of books and dvds that use a parody on the cover, so I could easily add those items to by lens as affiliate links. win win.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image

      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Never heard of this before. Looks like a great tool for us artists.

    • profile image

      JewelRiver 7 years ago

      You did a great job with this site! There is a fine line with adding a lot of content but it doesn't always necessarily have substance I think you did a great job of keeping your site interesting and relevant

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 7 years ago from Central Florida

      Amazing tool. I can really use this. Many thanks for explaining it.

    • Ecolicious LM profile image

      Penny Pincher G 7 years ago

      Very cool. I had no idea this program existed. This will come in very handy. Thank you!. Blessed

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 7 years ago from Iowa

      Very interesting, as an artist I can see all sorts of potentials.

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 7 years ago from California

      I remember one of your other lenses and a mention of Tin Eye. I remember being intrigued with your cat and fish photo...*Blessed* by an Angel.

    • EdTecher profile image

      Heidi Reina 8 years ago from USA

      Sounds like a really useful tool for everyone who creates images. Thanks for sharing how it works. I've added your lens to Technology in the Education Age Headquarter. It's featured in Technology Tools for Teachers.

    • JessicaRabb profile image

      JessicaRabb 8 years ago

      can i just say this is the coolest weirdest concept I have ever heard all at the same time but I love it!!!! I love discovering new things on the web through the eyes of others.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 8 years ago

      Wonderful information and something I was not aware of. Thank you 5* fave

    • makingamark profile image

      Katherine Tyrrell 8 years ago from London

      Thanks for featuring my lens about Copyright and Orphan Artworks - Resources for Artists.

      I was most interested to read about Tineye - I've not come across it before but am now off to take a look!

    • FlynntheCat1 profile image
      Author

      FlynntheCat1 8 years ago

      [in reply to mysticmama] Oh, I don't think most artists mind that - I'd be quite happy myself for that level of use!

      But what does happen, and even more to the very big artists, is that it ends up on products in a Zazzle store or something similar (there was one a couple of weeks ago set up on Etsy with pages of digital scrapbooking files from hundreds of artists) - and every artist would like to be credited! There's even been cases where people set themselves up with entire stolen galleries - from a single artist - and started selling them; companies using art on book covers; music CDs; clothing... and the artist never knew.

      Also, you're right about thieves usually being found out; but when you're browsing a gallery on DA and you're not quite sure about them, being able to check and see that actually 'their' art is not theirs is quite handy. And in cases like that - and I've seen a few Zazzle galleries like that too, Tineye may be the only way of finding the original artist.

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 8 years ago

      As an actual Artist in this digital age... perhaps it's my hippie upbringing, but I'm honored when people choose my art for their websites, blogs or whatever... I even have lenses with images I've made for Squidoo & RocketMoms that were made with the intention of sharing those images... I really don't worry much about copyright and all that, it actually kind of amuses me that others do... the reality is that people will steal it, the reason they steal it is because they do not have the talent to do it themselves and I don't need to chase them down, because people without talent will eventually be uncovered as such when they fail to produce anything of talent on their own... the fact that they would use my work is mostly a compliment to my talent...In the end, I can prove that my work is my own...

      I've also noticed that it seems like the people most worried about copyrights are the ones with the least talent of their own...which is amusing.

    • vanidiana24 profile image

      vanidiana24 8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing the info. Love this lens a lot!

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 8 years ago from La Verne, CA

      This is great to know. Thanks. Looking forward to seeing your next lens creations.

    • pkmcruk profile image

      pkmcr 8 years ago from Cheshire UK

      This is an incredibly useful and well put together lens and I can see why you said you were proud of it - an awful lot of work has clearly gone in to putting this together! Blessed by a Squid Angel

    • profile image

      eytans_art 8 years ago

      That's a great great lens!!

      Very informative and helpful.

      Thank you!!

      5 stars!