Where has the ‘View Image’ button gone from Google Image Search?

Back in February 2018 they removed the ‘View Image’ button from the Google Image Search.

This was removed due to the insinuations by photographers and publishers that Google was allowing people to steal their pictures. According to some media sources such as Search Engine Land this pressure came largely from Getty Images who want to reduce copyright infringement.

If you view Google Image Search in a similar way to Napster or torrent sites like The Pirate Bay, you can see their argument. The ‘View Image’ button bypassed protective code blocks and allowed users to easily return a unique URL that allowed people to download an image that they often did not have rights to.

You can still download images, but you will need to visit the site first. The digital equivalent of looking the shopkeeper in the face while you pilfer his store. Many sites have blocks in place that make it hard to download the image for the average user. In some cases, you need to hunt the code to gain access to an image. Many of the sites that Juggler Design make block all right click functionality preventing the theft of any content.

If you still want to be able to view image just use Bing. It crawls the web just like Google and in some ways, has a better interface, but it is different and takes some getting used to.

Another alternative is to use one of several Chrome extensions that have been developed to bring back the ‘View Image’ and ‘Search by Image’ buttons.

If you’re interested they are:

  • View Image by Joshua B: “Re-implements the Google Images’ ‘View Image’ and ‘Search by Image’ buttons.”
  • Bring Google View Image Back by by Vinit Agrawal: “brings the view image button back in google image search results.” (This plugin has been discontinued.)
  • Google Search “View Image” Button by devunt: “Make view image button great again.”

Note: I haven’t tested these myself and am not endorsing them.

In the end, there is no legal right to download an image from the web. Although it is not a crime it is a breach of civil law that is covered by international copyright laws. But we should not be living in fear that others might seek financial compensation, but rather take the moral path and think about creative ownership and the value that it brings to society.