The Best Image Search Engines on the Web

Image finders and reverse image lookup tools

An image search lets you search the web for pictures of all kinds, from portraits and clip art images to black and white photos, illustrations, line drawings, and more.

There are lots of image finders out there. Some are picture search engines that scour the web for photos and continually update their database with new images. Another way to search for pictures is from websites that host images but don't necessarily crawl the web to find new ones like a search engine does.

Illustration of a woman looking through a magnifying glass at different places for images.
Lifewire / Ashley Nicole DeLeon

Below are the best image search tools that cover both types of image finders. They let you search for pictures, browse through galleries, and even run a reverse photo search to find a picture that looks like the one you have.

Image Search Engines

Bing image search for rabbits

Search engines work by having you trigger the search by a word, phrase, or another picture. They gather results from other websites on the web.

  • Google Images: Google's massive image database will help you find pretty much any picture on any topic that you can think of, plus it's easy to use. An advanced image search on Google lets you narrow your search by size, color, time, and more. You can also use Google to search for an image using another image as your search query instead of text (i.e., reverse image search).
  • Picsearch: Over 3 billion images can be found with this image search engine. Advanced options let you find black and white images, pictures of a certain color or size, wallpapers, animations, faces, and more.
  • Yahoo Image Search: The image search on Yahoo is similar to these other picture search engine sites: there are advanced search options to filter the results by license, size, color, and more. This one is ideal if you're looking specifically for GIFs or portraits.
  • Bing Images: Another way to search images is with Microsoft's Bing. A trending section lets you easily find trending pictures; there's also a visual search tool (reverse photo search) and a general image lookup where you enter text to find photos, plus advanced filtering options (specific resolution, head and shoulders, transparent, color, etc).

Image Search Sites

Image search on NASA's website

These image search sites are great for browsing pictures as well, but they keep their search within their respective websites.

  • Pixabay: Over two million high-quality stock images and videos, including vector graphics and illustrations. This is just one of many public domain image sites that you're free to use without copyright issues. 
  • Flickr: An awesome image finder for locating a huge array of different photos. Some of these images can be reused, but if you're just looking for fantastic photo galleries from talented photographers worldwide, Flickr can still be a useful source.
  • Getty Images: Huge database of searchable images from various leading brands. You can narrow your search to include only royalty-free images. This image search site offers different levels of access depending on what you need it for.
  • Hubble's Greatest Hits: Amazing pictures of space objects as collected by the Hubble telescope from 1990-1995.
  • Twitter: This social media giant lets you run an image search across every publicly accessible Twitter account, or just the people you follow. You can even limit the image search to photos near your location. See our article on how to search Twitter images for more information.
  • Warren and Genevieve Garst Photographic Collection: Amazing collection of images put together by the Garsts and donated to Colorado State University Libraries as they were filming for Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom TV series.
  • American Memory Collections: Photos and Prints: From the Library of Congress, these collections include Ansel Adams photography, Civil War, and Presidents and First Ladies.
  • The Smithsonian Institution Archive Collections: Run a picture search or browse through selected images from Smithsonian collections.
  • Classroom Clipart: A source for free downloadable clip art, searchable by topic.
  • Eastman Museum: Use this image finder to search through a wide variety of collections, including Moving Image and Technology.
  • National Geographic Photography Collection: This image search site includes photo galleries from this acclaimed magazine, gorgeous wallpapers, a photo of the day, and more.
  • NASA Image and Video Library: Search thousands of NASA press release photos, videos, and audio recordings spanning American manned space programs from the Mercury program to the STS-79 Shuttle mission.
  • NYPL Digital Gallery: Updated daily, this is the New York Public Library's collection of free digital images. Use this lookup tool to access hundreds of thousands of images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities to find illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more.

Reverse Image Search

Google reverse image search

Ever wonder where an image you see on the web actually came from? Or maybe you made a custom photo, and you're curious who else is using it. Do modified versions of an image exist elsewhere, like one in a higher resolution?

You can find all of that out with a reverse photo search. There are several ways to do this, but the idea is the same: you provide an image for your search query instead of text. For example, rather than looking up image results for house, if you want to see pictures that look like the one you have, you feed the search tool the house picture you have instead.

A Google reverse photo search is one way to do this. Bing Visual Search and TinEye work similarly. Another way to run an image search using another image is with Pinterest; there's a visual search button on the bottom corner of photos.

If you're on a mobile device, check out our article on how to do a reverse image search on a phone or tablet.

 

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