Reverse image search tools like Bing Visual Search are more than just a gimmick. You can use them to speed up your browsing and have a little fun.
In this article, we’ll explain visual search and how you can use it. Next, we’ll cover ten creative ways to use visual search to speed up your browsing.
What is Bing Visual Search?
Released by Microsoft in 2009, Visual search is Bing’s image search engine (not to be confused with Microsoft Edge, Microsoft’s browser replacing Internet Explorer). Using artificial intelligence (AI), Visual Search combines reverse image search functionality with several other smart visual search capabilities that allow you to search the web using your camera.
Instead of using the usual Bing search bar, visual search works using an uploaded image. For example, if you take a photo of an item or landmark and upload it to Visual Search, it tries to identify the image and provide you with similar photos and links to additional information .
Visual search is available at Bing.com and the android and iOS apps. Additionally, there is now a Bing Visual Search API that websites and applications can use to display image information for their users.
How to use visual search
To use visual search, load the visual search website or open the Bing app, upload a photo, and tap Look for.
To use visual search on PC:
- Open the Visual search webpage in your browser.
- Where it says “Drag an image here”, you can drag your image file into the search field, take a photo using your device, paste an image URL, or browse your PC to find the picture in question.
- Once you do, Bing will load a page displaying any text displayed by the image, links to relevant information, and any related content found online.
To use visual search on a mobile device:
- Open the Bing app.
- Click it Visual search icon to do a new visual search.
- Take a photo or select an image from your gallery to search on Bing.
10 cool things you can do with visual search
Here are ten fun things you can do with visual search:
1. Identify plants or wildlife
One of the most fascinating uses of visual search is when you want to know what species a particular bird, animal, plant, or insect is. Once upon a time, you had to contact your local museum or message an expert online. Now all you have to do is take a photo and upload it to Visual Search. It also works for cat and dog breeds!
Unfortunately, Bing isn’t as good as some of its competitors, such as Google Lens or more specific apps, but it still gets you in the ballpark (and it’s a lot easier than typing in a topic description!).
2. Identify landmarks
Similar to wildlife identification, Bing image search can identify famous sites and show more information about them.
If you see a mesmerizing image online, or if you’re right in front of the landmark, just search for the image with Bing. You’ll receive results that are most likely to be the benchmark in question, along with links that can give you some insight.
3. Find the original source
The most common use of reverse image tools such as visual search is to find the source of an image.
Searching for an image or screenshot in visual search will give you a list of all the similar images it can find online. Using this, you can find the oldest source or information about the image that tells you where it came from.
This is useful when you want to fact check, find a source (if you’re writing an article or assignment), or give credit to the rightful owner.
4. Compare products
If you see a product you like the look of, for example a piece of furniture or clothing, you can upload a photo of it to Visual Search to find similar products.
It’s a fun way to shop because it lets you compare products you might never have found otherwise. Say you want to find white heels. Just search using a photo of white heels and see what comes up!
5. Find unlabeled products
If you’re browsing Instagram, Pinterest, and other similar sites, you’ll come across unlabeled (or mislabeled) products. It’s a pain when it comes to a product you want to review, but you just can’t find the product name or even the brand to search for.
With visual search, just search for the image and Bing will show you the closest related items it can find.
This works best when the image is from a catalog, but it can work with other items as well. In the worst case, you will find a similar product that still meets your needs!
6. Find someone’s name
Visual search is useful if you see a photo of a celebrity, politician, or person in public space and want to know their name and learn more about them. It can be a photo of their whole body or just their face.
All you have to do is search for the image visually (or take a photo and search for it visually), and voila, you have a name.
Another use for this is if you see a screenshot or meme on social media and want to figure out what movie it is or who is in the picture.
7. Identify fake profiles and news
These days, social media and the internet are flooded with misinformation and scammers using fake accounts. The good news is that tools like Visual Search can help you quickly determine if something or someone is real or fake.
For example, if you have doubts about the source of an image (let’s say it’s a controversial image with false claims), you can easily connect it to Visual Search and discover the source.
The same goes for suspicious profiles. Look for the profile display picture in visual search – if it’s associated with multiple accounts, it’s probably a fraudulent account.
8. Find High-Resolution Wallpapers
If you see a wallpaper or background image you’d like to use, you can upload it to Visual Search to find the original high-resolution download.
9. Find original artists
Likewise, you can also use Visual Search to find the original artists behind the graphics, wallpapers, and artwork you find online. This is especially useful when you find an image somewhere that doesn’t have an assigned artist (or has been reproduced online without permission).
10. Find out if people have stolen your images
Our final tip for Visual Search is for artists and designers who publish their work online. Often, photographers, painters, graphic designers, etc. have their own websites where they post their work for purchase. Unfortunately, many people use it to illegally source and reproduce art, either to print themselves or to try and claim ownership and sell online.
With Visual Search, you can see exactly who copied and downloaded your images and take action against them.
Better than text search?
That’s it: 10 cool uses for Microsoft’s Bing visual search. As technology increases, you can expect visual search and other reverse image tools to increase in power and functionality. I hope you can use these visual search features to save time and learn more about the world around you.