Reverse image searches on mobile phones

Reverse image searches with Android and iOS: The best options

A reverse image search is the very first step when it comes to verifying a picture. However, in our daily working lives, we are not always sitting in front of a computer when we come across pictures on social media that we want to check.

Unfortunately, Google has so far failed to adapt its image search for mobile use habits – which means there is currently no way to directly access a reverse image search from a mobile device. However, the following options will allow you to still conduct such a search.

Reverse image searching using Chrome

If you use the Chrome browser, you can start a reverse image search on your mobile device with only two clicks:

  1. Tap and hold on an image on any website; after about one second, a window with several options will open.Menüfenster zum Start der Google-Rückwärtssuche
  2.  Choose “Search for the image in Google” to start the reverse image search.This method only works with actual websites; it will not work if you want to verify images within an app, including the Facebook app. However, there are specific reverse image search apps that you can use in this case. Options for both Androids and iPhones are presented below.

    Android apps

    Search by Image (1)

    The best Android app at the moment is Search by Image, which is free to download and use. This app allows you to start a reverse search directly from within WhatsApp or the Facebook app.

    App Search by Image für Android

    How to use the app:

    1. Tap on any Facebook post with a picture to enlarge the photo.
    2. Tap on the menu in the top-right corner (the three small dots) to open a window with further options.
    3. Choose “Share externally”.Ein Bild in einem Facebook-Post mit der App
    4. In the new window, select “Search by Image” (which loads the image into the Search by Image app).
    5. Tap on the magnifying glass in the bottom-right corner to start the Google reverse search.Mit einem Klick auf die Lupe wird in der App

The steps are the same for pictures in WhatsApp, apart from the third one (where you should choose “Share” instead of “Share externally”).

With other apps (such as the Twitter app), this form of reverse search only works indirectly. In this case, you need to download a picture and then upload it to the Search by Image app to start a search.

A tip: If you activate the multi-search option in the Search by Image app’s settings, you can simultaneously search using the Google, Yandex and Tineye search engines. This possibility makes Search by Image the best Android app for reverse searches that is currently available.

Photo Search (reverse photo search)

Android App Photo Search (reverse Phot-Suche)

Photo Search exclusively scans Google. The benefit: You can start a search directly from within the Facebook app or WhatsApp. It is also possible to search for an uploaded picture of an image URL. However, the URL only generates a results list of similar pictures. The corresponding websites (in other words, the websites on which the picture can be found) are not shown, which limits Photo Search’s use for verification purposes.

Search by Image (2)

Search by Image: Android-App

This app, also called Search by Image, only conducts Google searches. Its design is clearly superior to the design of the other apps discussed here, but you always need to upload an image before you can search for it. Moreover, Search by Image does not work from within other apps or via links.

There are several other Android apps that are capable of conducting Google reverse image searches. However, my tests showed that they were either overloaded with ads or unreliable.

iPhone apps

Reversee

iOS App Reversee

The free version of Reversee allows you to conduct reverse image searches with Google. You need to upload images directly to the app to start a search – no facilitated app possibilities exist for Facebook.

However, in contrast to all of the Android apps that I tested, Reversee is able to start a reverse image search directly from within the Twitter app. It works as follows:

    1. Tap on a picture in a tweet to enlarge it.
    2. Tap and hold on the picture; after about one second, a menu will open.
    3. Choose “Reversee” (if this option is not displayed, you can activate it under “more”).Menü mit Symbol zum Starten der Rückwärtssuche
    4. The image will load into the app within about 10 seconds
    5. Tap on “Search” in the upper-right corner to start the search.  Rückwärtssuche mit der iOS-App Reversee

The free version of Reversee is recommended for users who want to conduct reverse image searches only from time to time; those who use the app more frequently will soon be annoyed by the 10-second loading time that is activated as a block in the free version. The pro version, which costs €4.49, allows you to get rid of the long loading time. It also enables you to search in Bing and Yandex (although unfortunately not in Tineye) and to start a search via a URL.

Reverse Image Search Free

Reverse Image Search Free

With the Reverse Image Search Free app, you can check images in a particularly large number of search engines. Apart from Google and Tineye, the app also searches using the Chinese search engine Baidu and within the reverse search feature of reddit.com. Pictures can be either uploaded or inserted via a link. However, only 20 searches are for free; after that, you have to pay €5.49.

Search by Image Extension (image search)

iOS App Search by Image Extension

Search by Image Extension costs €0.99; a free version does not exist. The benefit of the app is that it searches Google as well as Yandex and Tineye – just not at the same time. If you want to check a picture in all three search engines, you have to conduct three searches and change the search option settings each time (which is time-consuming).

The direct reverse image search works well from within the Twitter app, although it is not possible to load pictures directly into the Search by Image Extension app or to insert a link. The user instead depends on the app’s good functionality when surfing on websites. Since this functionality is not always a given, I cannot make a clear purchase recommendation for this particular app.

Google reverse image searches with the help of the CTRLQ.org

If you do not want to download an app, you can also simply turn to the website ctrlq.org:

      1. Upload any image from your smartphone to the site.
      2. The Google reverse image search starts.Google-Rückwärtssuche mithilfe einer Webseite

Have you had other experiences with one of these apps? Or do you have further tips on alternative reverse image search techniques? Feel free to get in touch!

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