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Advanced Image Search With Google

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Google is the most widely used search engine on the Web. They offer a variety of different vertical searches, including News, Maps, and Images. In this article, we're going to look at how you can find images with Google using a variety of advanced search tactics.

Basic Image Search

For most Web searchers, using Google Image Search is easy: just enter your query into the search box and click the Search Images button. Simple!

However, more advanced searchers will find that they can use any of Google's specific search operators within their search query. There are two ways that searchers can utilize Google Images' more advanced features: either by the convenient dropdown menus, or by entering in an actual search operator (for example, using the filetype operator will bring back only certain types of images, i.e., .jpg or .gif).

Advanced Searching

If you really want to fine-tune your image searching, the best way to do it is to use the Google advanced search dropdown menus found on your Google Image search results page, or, click on the Advanced Search menu found under the Settings icon on the far right-hand corner. From both of these places you can tweak your image search in a number of ways:

  • Color: Search only for black and white, grayscale, or full-color images (you can pick what color you'd like to highlight, too).
  • Safe Search: Don't want explicit results? This is where you can specify that preference.
  • Domain: Find images only within a specific domain or website.
  • File types: Look for specific image file formats.
  • Size: Especially useful! Search for small, medium, or large images.
  • Keywords: Just like you can with Google's regular web search, you can filter your results by looking for all the words in a phrase, any of the words, even for images that are not related to the words.

The Advanced Image Search page really comes in handy if you're looking for images that of a particular file type; for example, say you are working on a project that requires images that are in a .JPG format only. It's also useful if you're looking for a larger/high-resolution image for printing, or a smaller resolution image that will work fine for using on the Web (note: always check copyright before using any of the images you find on Google. Commercial use of copyrighted images is prohibited and is considered bad manners on the Web).

Viewing Your Images

Once you click on the Search Images button, Google returns a tapestry of paginated results, displayed in a grid, organized by relevance to your original search term(s).

For each image displayed in your search results, Google also lists the size of the image, type of file, and the originating host's URL. When you click on an image, the original page is displayed via a URL in the middle of the page, along with the Google Images frame around the image thumbnail, the image's full display, and information about the image. You can click on the image to view it larger than a thumbnail (this will take you to the originating site from which the image was originally found), or go directly to the site itself by clicking on the "Visit Page" link, or, if you just want to see the image without any context, click on the "View Original Image" link.

Some images found via Google Image Search will not be able to be viewed after clicking; this is because some website owners use special code and search engine instructions to keep non-authorized users from downloading images without permission.

Filtering Your Image Results

It's (nearly) inevitable: sometime in your Web search travels you're probably going to come across something offensive. Thankfully, Google gives us many options for keeping searches safe. By default, a moderate SafeSearch content filter is activated when you use Google Images; this filtering blocks the display of potentially offensive images only, and not text.

You can toggle this SafeSearch filter in any search results page by clicking on the SafeSearch dropdown menu and clicking "Filter Explicit Results". Again, this does not filter text; it only filters offensive images that are considered to be explicit and/or not family-friendly.

Google Image Search: a useful tool

No matter how you use Google's Image Search, it's easy to use and returns accurate, relevant results. Filters - especially the ability to narrow down images by size, color, and file type - are especially useful.

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