Bing Visual Search

Basic information

How to use this tool for use/reuse assessment

Bing Visual Search queries webpages for instances of an image using the Bing web search engine, owned by Microsoft. To complete a search, a user can select a file from their local computer (even dragging and dropping the image into the search box), enter the URL to the image file already on the web, or search using text for an image already on a website. Bing Visual Search returns results in a search engine results format, including the website title, image resolution size, image thumbnail, and a brief description of the website.

Bing Visual Search includes a set of pre-defined reverse image search queries categorized into themes for the user, including options that allow a user to upload an image of a flower, dog, or famous person and have the engine bring relevant results back with contextual information (for example, a user can upload a picture of a dog and Bing Visual Search will return the name of the breed and additional breed information). 

Ethical guidelines

Practitioners should follow the practices laid out in the “Ethical considerations and guidelines for the assessment of use and reuse of digital content.” The Guidelines are meant both to inform practitioners in their decision-making, and to model for users what they can expect from those who steward digital collections.

Additional guidelines for responsible practice

None known


  • Results from Bing Visual Search can act as data that practitioners can analyze to better understand what users do with digital objects in their collections. Google Image Search and other reverse search engines can serve as one important piece to a multi-step assessment process. 


  • Bing Visual Search, like other popular reverse image search engines, is not always 100% accurate. This process may return false positive results.

  • Bing Visual Search, like other popular reverse image search engines, cannot access content outside of HTML. PDF documents, audio, and video files placed on websites are not queried by Bing Visual Search.

  • Bing Visual Search, like other popular reverse image search engines, does not allow for batch searching. Practitioners must complete a manual search, one-at-a-time. This can be time consuming and suggests that this approach would not scale to assess a practitioner’s entire digital collections. However, TinEye MatchEngine is a fee-based reverse image search service which performs batch querying.

  • Microsoft does not make product documentation available for the public. It is unclear how the search algorithm operates.

Alternative tools

Other reverse image search engines operate in similar ways: a practitioner submits an image to the search engine and it displays a list of results. No free reverse image search tools allow users to do batch queries of multiple images (see TinEye MatchEngine for a paid service that offers batch querying). Limited comparisons among reverse image search tool features and functions suggest that Google Image Search has a larger index in which to query. This can translate into a more diverse set of results. 

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