Mastering the Google Images Advanced Search tool

Google Images Advanced Search is a powerful alternative for finding free images in the public domain on Flickr, Morguefile and Stock.xchng.

One of the hardest things about blogging is finding unique images that are both good quality and relevant to the topic you’re writing about.  The other problem is navigating the labyrinthine rules of US copyright law to determine if it’s safe to use a particular image on your site.

Or maybe you don’t have a blog but just need an image for a report or presentation.  Most people head over to Google’s homepage, click on Images, type the name of an image they want and download the first or second result but it’s important to note that grabbing copyright images does have ramifications.  When in doubt the US copyright office advises that you obtain explicit permission from the image owners.

Well fortunately there’s an easy way to retrieve royalty free images.

Just use Google’s Advanced Image Search tool.

Visit and click on Images in the gray bar that rides along the top edge of the browser.

Enter your search term.  I’m going to use Beets for my example.

Google Images Advanced Search

Then, in the top far right corner of the browser, click the little gear icon and choose Advanced Search

Google Images Advanced Search Settings

The Advanced Image Search form appears.  Scroll to the bottom and under Usage Rights, choose free to use or share, even commercially.

Google Images Advanced Search Free to Use or Share even commercially

Now Google only displays royalty free images in the search results.

I yellow highlighted the commercial reuse filter in the graphic below

Google Images Advanced Image Search Results

And if you want to be extra certain that you won’t have any litigious image creators seeking to sue you, drag and drop your image into TinEye to conduct a reverse image search and confirm that it is indeed free.  TinEye is a free tool that attempts “to connect images to their authors and facilitate attribution”.  There are over 2 billion pages in its database and so it’s a pretty good site to check your images before you use them.

TinEye Reverse Image Search

In my example, you can see I’ve found 7 results for my Beet image and that it does indeed have a creative commons license.

TinEye Reverse Image Search Results

What do you guys think about this tool?  Do you feel the image quality is sub-par?  How does it compare to other stock photo sites out there?

Let me know in the comments


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