Image Search Engines

Finding great quality images on the internet can be time consuming and laborious. However, this concise and well researched list of the best image search engines should help cut down the time and energy you spend searching. It will also help you search more efficiently for professional standard images.

Google Images Search


Google Image Search is the most used image search engine in the world. Type in what you want to search for and it will produce literally thousands of image results -although it may need some serious filtering applied to get decent results. Limits on the engine are that you get the full page source and need to click each individual thumbnail to open every image.



Imagery has a great and easy to use customised tabbed interface. With flexible sort functions, you can view between 20 and 100 images in one go and modify your search to specify details such as JPEG or GIF, black and white or color and the size and quality of the picture you want. It is a fantastic website from which to compile an organised and smart database of images.



Pixsy is fantastic because it sources from databases such as Webshots, Photobucket, Sevenload, SuperiorPics and ViewImages when the option of ‘images’ is specified in the original search. Its option to save to ‘My Pixsy’ or email the image is a very useful tool.

MSN Live Image Search


MSN Live Image Search is the top of the top for finding perfect wallpapers for desktops. Its handy option of “Showing only images of your desktop size” is ideal for this purpose. It also allows you to create albums by dragging favorite images from the search to a ‘scratchpad’ where they will be collated and stored.

Yahoo! Image Search


Yahoo Image Search ( finds images that appear as a framed interface on a source page and it has a range of options which can be applied to searches. Email to a friend, black and white, or a selection of sizes which can be expanded into a desktop wallpaper. Definitely a handy yet simple engine.

Ask Images
Ask Images Search is a clever little engine that makes neat suggestions on how to broaden or narrow your image search depending on the results you get. This goes a long way in improving the quality of image search results. ‘Buddy icons’ is an extra bonus which suggest similar YouTube links, Wikipedia articles and news stories which in turn lead on to related material.

Netvue is a bit slower to browse through but perhaps more orderly as it produces its search results in a slideshow format. It does, however, allow you to browse the thumbnails manually, which makes this a good and funky way of image searching.

PicSearch produces all its images as thumbnails which link you to the original web source. With a range of two billion images in its database, it is a vast collection. Particularly good for animation searches, it has a range of options to modify and narrow searches. It is also a ‘family friendly’ search engine, so it’s good for kids to use, too.

AltaVista Image Search
AltaVista Image Search is similar in its search capacity and is also good for wallpapers, but it also has graphics and banner options that broaden your search in a more techno way. The ‘more info’ tab is great for linking to similar sources.

Flickr Images is the most used and subscribed to image sharing data base on the web. Powered through Yahoo, it acts as a community space for storing photos and images. You can find a range of unique but often copyrighted photos. It has search options such as ‘most relevant’ and ‘most recent’ which makes searching easier.

Photobucket is a free and vast online hosting web service for images, graphics and photos. With large capacities, it is able to store huge files which saves the users, a lot of bandwidth. The copyright mandates on this website can be vague, so check before use.

Webshots is a community website similar to Flickr. Users upload selected photos and they can then be shared and searched for by other community members. However, many of these albums will also contain copyright restrictions.

Getty Images
Getty Images Search are world renowned for their media headline stealing pictures. Newspapers, blogs and magazines have all used this website, so it is without a doubt, reputable. It will contain images you will find nowhere else. It has a useful ‘Editorial’ option to get unique media images. Registration is necessary to get quotes for usage.

Corbis is similar in its provision of stock media images. With options to search for royalty-free images, it is perhaps more accessible to the non-commercial user than Getty’s. It also has an option to search pure photography as well as illustrations.

And finally…
Remember that despite ‘finding’ images online, many of these may be copyrighted, even if it doesn’t say so in bold clear writing. Check the rights before using or editing these images and including them in catalogues, albums or selections you claim as your own work.

~Zahid Javali

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