How to Use Google Images

A search on Google Images works like a regular Google search -- you just look for images rather than websites. It takes only a couple of minutes to learn the basics, but it's also worth learning how to use advanced features, such as reverse image searches and filtering tools. These give you more control over your search results, making it easier and quicker to find the images you want.

Hand and Digital Screen with Natural Photographies
Google Images indexes photos, pictures, drawings and other images.
credit: ekinyalgin/iStock/Getty Images

Get Started with Google Images

Type "" into your browser and open the link. You can also access the site from any Google page by selecting the "Images" link. Type a word or phrase into the search bar and select the magnifying glass icon. A basic search shows all the images that Google associates with your search term. Click on an image and it expands, giving you the option to visit its host site, view it in a new window or look at similar images. Right-click on it for other options, such as copy and save.

Use an Image to Find an Image

If you find an image that you like and want to see more like it, you can use a reverse image search to tell Google to look for visually similar images. This also works with images you've found on other websites or those stored on your computer. Go to the search bar and select the camera icon. If the image is on the Google Images page, drag it up to the bar. If not, paste its URL into the box or browse to locate it on your computer. If you use the Chrome browser, you can also start a reverse image search by right-clicking on a picture and selecting "Search Google for this image."

Use Filters and Advanced Search

Filters and advanced search options refine your results. If you look at the top of a page of results, you'll notice that Google organizes images into categories for you. To use different filters, select "Search tools" to filter by size, color, type, time and usage rights. For more options, select the gear wheel icon at the top right of the search page and choose "Advanced search." This allows you to select aspect ratios, set a country, search in a specific website or choose a file type. You can also use the text boxes in the "Find images with..." section to tell Google which words to include or exclude from a search.

Use SafeSearch

Sometimes, an image search gives you more than you bargained for -- words with multiple meanings may throw up explicit results. To avoid this, select "SafeSearch" and then "Filter explicit results." Select it again to turn it off. If you want it on permanently, you can lock it if you have a Google account. Go to the gear wheel icon, select "Search settings" and then "Lock SafeSearch." Sign in to your account if prompted and select "Lock SafeSearch" again. To remove the lock, select the "SafeSearch is locked" button, then "Unlock SafeSearch." Log in if you need to and choose "Unlock SafeSearch."

Understand Usage Restrictions

Images may be freely available on the Internet, but that doesn't mean you can do what you want with them. Some image owners allow you to modify images or use them commercially; others don't. If you want to use an image for these purposes, filter your search to show pictures with relevant rights. Select "Search tools," then "Usage rights," and choose a licensing description that matches your requirements.