How to Bring Back the “View Image” Button In Google Image Search

Google’s image-based search engine has been a staple of the internet for more than a decade. But this morning it got a little less useful: in addition to making the reverse image search tool harder to find, the “Show Image” button has disappeared.

The button formerly functioned as a direct link to the image in question, allowing users to bypass the hosting web site itself. Its disappearance is apparently due to an agreement Google has made with the stock image provider Getty Images, in order to get the latter’s photo content included in image search results.

The “View Image” button was a direct link to image files stored on web servers.

But have no fear, web image junkies. Only a few hours after the news broke, an independent developer released a Chrome extension that returns the button to its proper place. “View Image” from developer Joshua Butt returns the button to the Google Images interface, restoring the direct link function that Google and Getty are apparently no longer interested in supporting.

Using the extension is simple: just click “Add to Chrome” in the Chrome Web Store page, and the next time you search Google Images, the “View Image” button will be back in its familiar home.

We’re generally wary of recommending brand new extensions for Chrome or other browsers, but Butt has published the extension as an open source project on GitHub, and it appears to be free of the adware that’s been gradually infecting popular free extensions for the last year or so.

Left: the updated interface, sans “View Image” button. Right: button restored with extension.

We’ll update this article if and when similar extensions are added to the public repositories for Firefox and Opera. And if you don’t feel like using an extension for this very basic functionality, remember that you can always access the original image by right-clicking the Google Images result, then selecting “Open image in new tab.” It won’t give you the original, full-size image every time (sometimes it’ll give you a scaled-down thumbnail), but it’s worth a shot.

Michael Crider has been covering technology on the web since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order. He wrote a novel called Good Intentions: A Supervillain Story, and it's available on Amazon. You can follow him on Twitter if you want.