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How to Use Google Image Search to Identify Unknown Pictures on Puzzles

(This page is updated from time to time as Google changes things and info below is current as of May 2022.)

You may be asking yourself, how are we able to figure out the titles and names of the artists for a lot of the puzzles we sell? With no signed names and so many artists out there, it would seem like a puzzle!

Well, the answer is surprisingly simple, it’s this little secret search engine called Google. Okay, so we know Google is a secret to nobody, however, Google’s amazing Image Search feature is a lesser known part of Google that any collector of puzzles should be aware of. In fact, it’s an incredibly useful tool for all sorts of things that you might need to search by image (artwork, board games, just about anything!), but for the purposes of this blog, I am going to teach you how to use it for finding a puzzle image.

Note: This is going to cover using this on a laptop or desktop. It works very differently on a phone and is not as easy to use, thus the reason for the desktop/laptop tutorial. Google made a lot of changes to the way Google Images works in 2022. It is more powerful, but also a little harder to use as well, so hopefully after getting through this tutorial you will have a good idea how to research those puzzle photos!

So here it is…Finding that Puzzle Image in a Few Short Steps

Step 1

Open your web browser and go to https://images.google.com

Google Image Search

Step 2

Click the camera icon

Google Image Search - icon

Step 3

Upload/Add Your Picture
You now have 3 different ways to get the image you want to Google:
1) Drag an image from a folder on your computer
2) Upload a file from your computer
3) Point to URL of a photo on the web

Step 4

Let Google do its magic and come back with results.
In this example we are using a picture of a puzzle by Grant Wood called “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”.
Bonus Tip: Image search works best when you have a nice cropped image without extra items in the picture, it is well lit and, well, just a good picture!
The larger image the better, so if you can take the picture in a higher resolution (at least 1000 pixels wide) you have a much better chance of getting good results.

The initial results page will look something like the screenshot below. There are tools to refine the process which we are going to discuss below.

 

Let’s dig a little deeper in understanding your results:

A) Left Pane of Results
This is the image you uploaded. You will notice that Google has framed in a small part of the image (the white boundary with the rounded edges). We will discuss using this to refine results in a minute.

 

B) Right Pane of Results
These are some examples of typical search results related to the image. These are usually a good first start to make sure the image you have is the same one Google thinks you do. You will see some variation from this example in how the results display, but generally you should see the title at the top (or at least the one Google thinks it is) and some other web related images below it.

 

C) How to Get More Results or If the Results are Inconclusive
At this point you may have enough info and be satisfied, congrats your search is complete! However, if you want more info, or you need to provide Google with some additional context in the form of text to have it search better, here is what you need to do:

1) The button at the top of the left pane that says “Find image source” and the “Didn’t find what you were looking for?…”
with the blue “Try it” button on the bottom of the right pane, both will take you to the same place.

Essentially this is, more or less, the traditional Google Image Search page where Google will take the image you uploaded and allow you to type in text to give the engine more information on what to look for. The area we have highlighted in green is where you can add some text search and “research”:

 

2) Remember earlier we talked about the white frame around the original image in the left pane? You can actually resize that and have a different amount of the picture selected. This will give Google more information to base the search on and you may get better results. It’s a simple drag and it will automatically update the results on the right pane based on what you select, pretty cool tool!

 

3) You can also hit the “Search” button at the top of the right pane and that will take you to plain search results based on the results Google originally came back with. This is more useful when you already found your title and are looking for more info on the image itself.

 

The result is your more standard looking search results:

 

Bonus Hints and Tips

Not finding your image? Here are some tips:
1. Refine Search
You can redo the search to refine the search in Step C(1) with different text to see if that helps. For instance, if you knew the artist you could type the name or any other keywords you might do in a search to help Google. Things like “boat on a river in France” or “Dutch painting from 1800s” etc.

2. Start over
Take a better quality picture (or find a link to one) and redo the process

Quite a lot of options with the 2022 update to image search. At first it can be a bit overwhelming to use, but with a little patience you should get the hang out of it. Obviously image search is a lot more complicated for a search engine than plain text, so it doesn’t always find the image, but I have had a pretty good success rate with a little creative searching if the image itself is not generating relevant results. It may just take some trial and error combining the text with the image you uploaded. There are some times where you may have to research it with other search engines too!

Good luck picture hunting!