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How to find out what website a picture came from

Updated July 19, 2017

There are, obviously, millions of great pictures to be found across the Web. But what happens when you want to credit the source of the picture and can't find where it originated? Or when you downloaded a photo and can't remember which website you got it from? Or when you want to find similar pictures, or buy a print for yourself? With a little detective work, it's often possible to locate a picture's website of origin.

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  1. Right-click on the picture on your desktop and select "Properties."

  2. Click the "Details" tab. There will be fields provided for Title, Authors, Copyright, and so on. This information will usually be blank, but often---especially for copyrighted images---you'll find information about its source.

  3. Note the image's file name and perform an image search on a search engine like Google or Bing using the file name as the search term. Include the extension as well: If the file is called "sample-img16387.jpg", for example, search for that exactly. If there was information in the "Title" field of the file details from Step 2, try that as a search term as well.

  4. Scan through the "History" of your web browser, a section which displays all the websites you've visited and the date and time you visited them. You can pull up the History window by pressing "Ctrl" and "H" or selecting "History" from the top menu. If you know when you first found the picture, you can quickly narrow down your search and locate the original site.

  5. Warning

    It's very common to find the same picture on multiple websites, even if it's copyrighted. You shouldn't assume that the first website you find that uses the picture is the owner of the photo, nor should you assume that the picture is legal to use simply because it's on a lot of different sites. However, e-mailing a site that uses the picture to ask where they got it is another good way of finding out where the picture originated.

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About the Author

Michael Dance is a freelance writer and the owner of MovieCultists.com. As a film critic for TheCinemaSource.com he has been quoted by RottenTomatoes.com and in national ad campaigns. He graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in 2007 and currently lives in Washington D.C.

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