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How to find an image’s real source

Sometimes when I’m browsing the beautiful crafty images on tumblr or pinterest, I come across images without the original source acknowledged.  I like the originator of a beautiful piece to be credited, so I when I reblog/repin, I add the source at least in the comments when I can.

I wondered if the source is often uncreditted because people don’t know how to find out. It only takes a few minutes (at most) and google images, and a little deductive reasoning, but here’s what I do:

Step 1. Save a copy of the image onto your computer (I usually just dump it on my desktop).


Step 2.  Open Google, and navigate to the images page. You want an ’empty’ search box. You can then drag your saved image over the search box and drop it in. It will change to a “Search by image” box when you’re in the right spot.


Step 3. You should now have a heap of search results that look like your image. If you don’t, you can add some words in the search box to help (like ‘socks’, or ‘awesome’. Okay, possibly only ‘socks’ will help here 😉


Step 4. Sherlock time. This is the bit that requires some deduction. Which one is the original?

Things to look for:

  • Image size
  • Source web site
  • Image date (where available – the earliest one should be the first!)

In the search above, you can see that the original image I searched with was 500×615 pixels. Usually, the originator of the image will be the person who holds the highest resolution version, so you’re looking for an image that’s at least as large as the one you’re using to search. In this case, none of the first page image results are large.

So onto page 2…


On page 2 I can see an image that matches in size. But it’s on tumblr. Normally, I’d ignore search results that are on tumblr or pinterest, as they are most likely reblogs/repins. Results that are on a personal blog or flickr are the first places I look… because that’s usually where crafty images are placed by the creator. (But again, not always.)

So I checked out the bad magpie flickr result first, but it was actually from her favourites list, and a quick scroll through didn’t enlighten me, so I went back to the google search.

In this case, the Belle Atelier tumblr result is my best remaining option.


Hurrah, Belle Atelier lists the source. A quick click to check it out:


And it links to the crafty Beth Buhnuh on flickr. Who also has lots of other lovely craft things to look at…

Step 5. Acknowledgement time! At this point I usually just reblog/repin the image, and add the original source (in this case it would be the image page on Beth’s flickr) in a link in my comments.

My instructions are fairly long winded, but usually it’s a 3o second process. Simple!

You have the power, go forth and acknowledge! Crafters everywhere will thank you 🙂

5 thoughts on “How to find an image’s real source

  1. This is *amazingly* helpful, thanks so much for the great tutorial!!! I’ve done tons of link tracking but never knew you could search with the image itself! This is definitely info that I’ll be sharing, I find that a lot of work is unattributed these days and it’s a shame 🙂

  2. Just popping by again to let you know that I shared this great post in Stitchy News 😉 Thanks again!

    1. Wow, I didn’t notice your comments until now, I’m a bad blogger!
      Thanks for the feature, and wow, I love your Stitchy News! What a great regular news article. More online stitchy stuff to bury myself in, thank you! 😀

  3. Started browsing here after admiring your solar system on Stitchin’ Fingers. Thanks very much for this tip – I didn’t know it and I am very good at saving interesting images on my computer and then wondering where I’ve got them from.

    1. Welcome!

      Yes, I’m the same, so many lovely pictures and no idea where I got them 🙂

      Stitchin Fingers looks like a lovely active community, I’m enjoying looking around at the forums and tutorials and blogs 😀

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