TinEye Tutorial

If you have an image file and you want to find copies of that image online, you need reverse image search. TinEye is the original reverse image search engine. We use our industry-leading image recognition technology to find matches from a constantly-growing index of billions of images. You can use TinEye to find out where an image came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist or to find a higher resolution version. Let’s learn to do a reverse image search with TinEye!

This guide will cover:

  1. How to search for an image
  2. What TinEye does with your images
  3. Using TinEye browser extensions
  4. Sorting and filtering search results
  5. Filtering by stock photo, other image collections, and by domain
  6. Comparing your image with TinEye results
  7. Working with TinEye search results
  8. Using images found with TinEye
  9. What finding no TinEye results for your search image means

How to search for an image

You can search for an image with TinEye in four ways:

  • by dragging and dropping an image on to the TinEye search page
  • by copying an image to your computer's clipboard and pasting it on the TinEye search page
  • by uploading an image from your computer using a file picker
  • by giving TinEye an image URL (that is, the web address of an image)

The easiest way to search with TinEye is to drag and drop an image onto the TinEye webpage in your browser. You can also copy an image to your clipboard and paste it on the TinEye search page.

To search by uploading an image, click the upload button (blue arrow in a circle) to select the image you’d like to search with from your computer or device. You can search with a web address (URL) by copying the link into the search box on TinEye.

Searching by image URL gives the same results as uploading an image from your computer; the only difference is the TinEye will get the image from the web address you give instead of getting it directly from your computer.

After you submit your search image through any method, TinEye will process the image and return any matching results in TinEye’s index. The total number of matches is shown at the top of the page alongside a thumbnail of the search image. The search image is not saved and is only shown on the result page for clarity.

The tab title and icon in your browser also reflect your search image and number of results, which is useful for comparing multiple searches at a glance.

TinEye does not save your search images. When you search with TinEye your image is not saved and not added to the TinEye index. This is true regardless of whether you upload the image or if you specify an image URL.

TinEye adds millions of new images from the web every day by crawling the web directly. Using TinEye is private and secure.

Using TinEye browser extensions

You can search TinEye directly by right-clicking on images you find online. To do that, you will need to download and install a TinEye extension. We have extensions for Firefox, Chrome and Opera.

Sorting TinEye results

TinEye will often return many results for a search image, so you might want to adjust the sort order depending on the results in which you’re most interested. There are five ways you can sort TinEye search results:

  • Best Match: Shows images that are visually closest to your search image first. This is the default sort option.
  • Most Changed: Shows images that are the most changed from your search image first (heavily-edited images).
  • Biggest Image: Shows images with the highest resolution (that is, most pixels) first.
  • Newest: Shows images most recently found by TinEye first.
  • Oldest: Shows the earliest found images first.

Filtering results by stock photo, image collections and by domain

If you want to know whether versions of your search image appear on a specific website, enter the website address in the “filter by domain/collection” field.

TinEye identifies certain sources as being of particular interest to our users. At the top of the results page, you can choose to only show results from collections (sets of free images, like Flickr or Wikimedia) or stock photo sites (where you can license an image for use, like Shutterstock).In this example, we’ll show how to limit our results to those from image collections like Wikipedia.

Limiting the results to only those found in collections reduces the number of results you see.

You can similarly restrict your results to those from stock photography sites; for more on stock photography filtering, jump to the section “ Finding and using stock photography” below.

Comparing your search image with TinEye results

TinEye has a comparison tool that lets you switch back and forth between a match and the original image to compare them. The matching portions of the two images are aligned. This highlights differences between the two images, making changes easier to see. Click on the image thumbnail or the “Compare Match” link to activate the comparison feature.

Here are some examples of common uses for TinEye search results:

Finding and using stock photography

A common use of TinEye is tracking down a stock photograph to find out where it can be licensed. You may have an image in a lightbox or you may have downloaded a comp image and do not have any data to determine which website it originated from. TinEye can help.

Let’s try to find the original source for this photo of a wolf:

First we upload the photograph to TinEye and filter the results to only show images found on stock photography sites:

The wolf image is a stock photograph being sold on Shutterstock. The links circled in orange will open the site where the original image is available for license. Once on the stock photo website you can license the image, find out about the photographer or find similar images from the stock photography provider.

Verifying profile photos

A common use of TinEye is checking a profile photo (say, from a dating site) to see if it’s unique. If TinEye finds matches for an uploaded profile photo, that means the image appears publicly online. Check the domain of each match to find out where the image appears to decide whether or not the image is genuine.

For example, this search for a profile photo has turned up 73 results, including 15 results from stock photo collections. Just seeing matches doesn’t necessarily mean the profile is fake; they could be from other dating sites or social media. But multiple results from stock photo sites, like this example, means the person in this dating profile is using a stock photo as their profile image; that’s pretty suspicious!

Using images found with TinEye

TinEye shows you where images appear online, but it can’t grant permission to use the images you found. Most images found online are protected by copyright, although some are freely usable, such as public domain images. If you would like to use any image found through TinEye, you will need to ensure that you secure the rights to that image. Images from sites marked as “collections” will generally have copyright status displayed more prominently than on other sites and images from sites marked as “stock” will offer the ability to pay for licensing.

If the image you’re looking for isn’t found on any collection or stock sites, you’ll need to do a little more detective work. Looking at the largest and the oldest results images might give you some clues about where the image comes from and who you should contact in order to get permission to license it.

What finding no TinEye results for your image search means

If your search returns no results, that means no matches for your image exist in the TinEye index. Matches might still exist somewhere on the internet, but TinEye hasn’t found them yet.