Thanks to a lawsuit by the large stock congolomerate Getty Images (which also owns iStock) Google has removed its popular "View Images" feature (one of many articles on the topic: http://time.com/5163852/google-view-image-search-remove/)

How does this affect us as designers and what workflow changes should we make?

I see there's two different scenarios:

  1. When our work goes onto websites and ultimately into search engines.
  2. When we're researching ideas and existing images.

What changes, if any, should we be aware of and make going forward in those two scenarios?

  • 1
    if I'm able to see some bytes then I can copy them - no exceptions. That's one of the reasons why digital DRM is near-impossible.
    – BlueWizard
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 20:43

4 Answers 4


Yes, an interesting development, but the truth is nothing much has really changed, it's only cosmetic - and I suspect only to please their lawyers.

You can still right click and "view image" in Firefox, or "open image in new tab" in Chrome. Of course most ordinary people won't know this. Google clearly takes most of its users for idiots! You basically can't stop someone from stealing an image off the web if they are determined enough to do so.

Also, google isn't the only search engine offering an image search.

  • Yes, you can "open image in new tab", but if the image is very large (about 15 MP), you will now only get a small preview, not the original file. Too bad.
    – Wolff
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 16:42
  • 1
    @user287001 - there are even shortcuts to make that easier. In Firefox for example, you can inspect all the media in a page under Page Info, and go through just the images to find the one you want, even if the site owners have disabled right clicking! Nothing is safe on the internet. If you can see it, someone can steal it.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 17:36
  • 5
    Just to be clear, if you can view an image in your browser, you have already downloaded it.
    – Yorik
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 18:28
  • 1
    @Yorik , absolutely!
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 18:59
  • 1
    that's what copyright is for. There is no technical gimmick that will prevent users from, say, taking a screenshot, cropping it and then using that as their background image - all possible with tools shipped with windows.
    – BlueWizard
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 20:45

Nothing. It's still there. (3-6-2018)

Even on a vanilla browser with no exentions.

All you have to do is:

  1. Right click --> open in new tab.

Thats it.

You may now download it at the highest quality as before.

NOTE: Pay attention that I highlight the image resolution before opening in a new tab. The same resolution is clearly visible on the new tab header and is identical. enter image description here

What should we do? Answer: Maybe not advertise that there are ways around it so google feels like they need to hide it even more.


In my work, I don't use Google image search. I'm not really certain how such a search would be a factor in a workflow.

Images found via broad internet image searches have always been legally questionable. I've always searched actual stock sites for images I need to use. Results are often better and the licensing is clear.

If one is using Google for general reference searching, chances are they are not seeking to download or save images anyway. So, this new hurdle won't really matter that much. If they are wanting to save things, well, a screenshot works if nothing else. Especially since saving wouldn't be for reproduction purposes.

As for my own content being seen via the search of others... anything Google does to deter the theft of my images I'm all for. I realize nothing will prevent someone lifting an image if they really want it. However, putting hurdles in the way which cause the casual user to move along is always a good thing.

  • 1
    Google image search has become a big part of my workflow in the past couple years and I probably use it hundreds of times a week. But I use it as a visual reference only, I very rarely even leave the search result page (i.e. I don’t save or even open the original images)
    – Cai
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 17:46
  • I can see it for perhaps broad reference, but in that case one generally isn't ever concerned about individual images and saving them or downloading them.
    – Scott
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 17:48
  • 1
    sure, that’s exactly what it is, a very broad reference. I actually have a lot of image reference books I used to use that hardly get looked at anymore
    – Cai
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 18:16

Lots of people also made user scripts/extensions

Which puts the button back so you don't need to go through the extra click (Right click, open in new tab).

So as folks have mentioned, it was pretty much just for legal reasons, and nothing really changed.

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