How to bring View Image back to Google Search with a simple Chrome extension

Google recently removed the 'View Image' button from Image Search. Here's an easy way to get it back.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Google removed the "View Image" button from Image Search recently, as part of a licensing agreement with Getty Images.
  • The "View Image" button made it easy for Google searchers to download images, though it was criticized as enabling theft of copyrighted work.

Google recently removed the "View Image" button from Google Image Search, following a licensing agreement with Getty Images. Getty, owner of popular stock photo service iStock, filed an antitrust complaint against Google in 2016 in the European Union claiming that the image search function harms the company, as the ability to download high resolution images without paying "promoted piracy."

A third-party Chrome extension called "View Image" available freely brings the view image button back to Google Image Search. The functionality is basically the same—it displays the source image of the selected search result—though the extension is programmed to open the image in a new tab, rather than in the same tab the search results are in. The extension works on Windows, Linux, OS X, and Chrome OS devices. Additionally, this Firefox extension performs the same task.

SEE: Internet and Email usage policy (Tech Pro Research)

To add the View Image extension, visit its page in the Chrome Web Store, click Add to Chrome, and then click Add extension in the following pop-up window. The View Image button should then show up in following Google Image searches.

Without the button, it is still possible to find the full-size image, with additional steps. The image preview provided by Google is directly from the originating site—not a re-hosted or compressed image—so it would generally be possible to download the full size image. Clicking through to "Visit," as is ostensibly intended after Google removed the view image button does not always lead to the desired image, as Google's cache can be out of date, or user-hostile scripts such as disabling right-click have been added to the page.

As a result of the agreement with Getty, images owned by that company will once again appear in Google Image Search results. Google will license content from Getty as part of the deal, but neither party has disclosed terms of the "multi-year global licensing partnership."

In a statement to the BBC, a representative from Getty stated: "We are pleased to announce that after working cooperatively with Google over the past months, our concerns are being recognised and we have withdrawn our complaint."

In a tweet, Google's "search liaison" Danny Sullivan stated that the changes "are designed to strike a balance between serving user needs and publisher concerns, both stakeholders we value," adding "Ultimately, Google Images is a way for people to discover information in cases where browsing images is a better experience than text. Having a single button that takes people to actionable information about the image is good for users, web publishers and copyright holders." As part of the agreement, copyright information about images is more prominently displayed than was the case previously.

Rival search engines Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo continue to have "View Image" buttons in their image search functions, without the need to use browser extensions.

Also see

Google Search laptop
Image: iStockphoto/Prykhodov

About James Sanders

James Sanders is a Java programmer specializing in software as a service and thin client design, and virtualizing legacy programs for modern hardware.

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