If you’ve recently used Google Images to search for pictures online, the chances are that you’ve noticed that the View Image button is nowhere to be found. Indeed, Google has recently announced on Twitter that the company has decided to remove it, encouraging users to use the Visit button instead.
“Today we’re launching some changes on Google Images to help connect users and useful websites. This will include removing the View Image button. The Visit button remains, so users can see images in the context of the web pages they’re on,” Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, tweeted.
Why Has Google Removed the View Image Button?
The tweet has instantly caused a massive uproar on the internet, and people were quick to point out that the change is likely a response to the complaint Getty Images filed against Google to the European Union in 2016, in which Getty claimed that Google Images is promoting piracy by giving users easy access to high-resolution photos. As Getty Images’ general counsel Yoko Miyashita put it, “Google’s behavior is adversely affecting not only our contributors, but the lives and livelihoods of artists around the world, present and future.”
It didn’t take long for Google to confirm this in another tweet. “For those asking, yes, these changes came about in part due to our settlement with Getty Images this week. They are designed to strike a balance between serving user needs and publisher concerns, both stakeholders we value.”
Life After without the View Image Button
Without the View Image button, there are two ways how to view the original images, both less convenient than the View Image button was.
Google would like its users to click on the Visit button to visit the website the image was scrapped from and download it from there. But depending on which site the image comes from, this could be nearly impossible. For example, the website could be in a foreign language, it could contain inappropriate or illegal content, or it could be horribly designed and confusing.
A much better way how to view the original images is to right-click on an image preview in Google Images and select the “Open image in new tab” option. Because the previews contain hotlinks to the original images, your browser will display the image in its original resolution.
How Can I Bring Back the View Image Button?
If the View Image button was part of your workflow, it’s understandable that you may find it difficult to live without it. Fortunately, you don’t have to because there are already several browser extensions that bring it back as well as several alternatives to Google Images that still have it and most likely always will.
GitHub user devunt has created an open source browser extension called “Make Google Image Search Great Again” to help users easily bring back the View Image button. The extension is available for Firefox and Chrome, and it also works as a Greasemonkey/Tampermonkey script.
There’s also the “View Image” extension by Joshua B, which does the same thing as devunt’s extension and actually even borrows some code from it. As such, it doesn’t really matter which of the two extensions you pick—just don’t have both of them installed at the same time because they might clash with each other.
Alternative Search Engines
For some people, this change was the last straw they needed to dump Google entirely and switch to a competing search engine. According to NetMarketShare, a provider of market share statistics for internet technologies, Bing is the second-largest search engine in the world used by the speakers of English. Bing still has an equivalent of the View Image button, making it a great alternative to Google. Just don’t expect it to be as accurate and comprehensive as Google.
There is also DuckDuckGo, which is a privacy-focused search engine that pulls search results from over 400 individual sources, including Bing, Yahoo!, Yandex, Yummly, or Wikipedia, just to name a few. With DuckDuckGo, you can both reclaim your internet privacy and easily search for images online.
If DuckDuckGo turns out to be the right search engine for you, make sure to also install its browser extension, which adds additional privacy protection by blocking hhidden trackers, encryption connections where possible, and making DuckDuckGo your default search engine.