Why Google Removed The “View Image” Button

Published by Neil Andrew

23rd February 2018

If you’re a regular user of Google image search, then you’ve probably noticed a big change over the past few days. Although it might be just a small subtle change, it’s become an enormous inconvenience for a lot of users.

To explain what we’re talking about, head on over to Google and start a new search. Switch to the images section and click on an image. Notice anything different? We’ll give you a clue: it’s to do with one of the buttons on the right. Ever since its launch, Google has always had a view image button on the right of the picture. However, just a few days ago that button magically disappeared overnight without any explanation.

This sudden loss of the beloved view image button has caused many users to vent their anger on social media. Without the view image button, how are you meant to view a high-resolution version of the picture? Clicking the picture will only take you to the webpage that has it visible, even if it’s just a thumbnail or hidden background image.

This is obviously not the Google many people are used to. So why the change? What made Google decide to remove the button overnight without an explanation? Well, we’re here to tell you why.

Here’s everything you need to know about why the view image button was removed from Google image search.

Why The “View Image” Button Was Removed

getty images logo

The real reason why Google removed the view image button starts almost 2 years ago. A large photography company known as Getty Images filed an antitrust charge against Google in the EU. This charge said that Google was purposely scraping their images for their search engine and not giving the original owners credit. When another business is costing you millions in lost license fees, you don’t just sit around and do nothing.

Obviously, this was a battle that Google didn’t want to fight. In the past, Google has been fined over €2.42bn by the EU for abusing its power, and they didn’t want that to happen again. Instead of going to court, they decided to team up with Getty Images and come to a solution.

On 9th February 2018, news hit the wire that Google and Getty Images had agreed to a partnership deal that resolved the dispute. This deal allowed Google to use many of their images within their products and services while the positive outcome for Getty Image wasn’t as obvious.

As soon as this deal was announced, Getty Images withdrew their charges and the whole antitrust charges mysteriously disappeared. However, it wasn’t just the charges that disappeared; the view image button had also vanished!

The main problem Getty Images had against the view image button is that it encouraged image piracy. A user would search for a specific image and then press the view image button. This button would take the user directly to the source of the image while skipping the page it was hosted on. Obviously, this wasn’t something Getty Images liked. Not only did it mean less traffic for their website, but many users would just steal images without reading the copyright licensing. Since Getty Images makes most of their money from selling licensing to websites and businesses, they were clearly losing money.

Why Everyone Hates The Removal Of The Button

google view image button twitter reaction

With the removal of the view image button, Google now forces users to go to the website the image is hosted on. This means more organic search visitors for Getty Images, and the chance to sell them copyright licenses. As you can see it’s pretty much a win-win for both sides. Google gets to keep on displaying their images and offering them in their products and services, while Getty Images gets more organic traffic and sales.

Although this deal might be good for both parties involved, it’s arguably not for everyday users. Not only does it make finding image sources harder, but getting to the actual picture now takes a lot more steps. Don’t get us wrong; there are still copyright laws users have to abide by when searching for images. But considering Google has its own usage rights filter, even finding creative commons licensed and free images is a lot tougher.

In response to the removal of the button, many users have already started to switch search engines to the likes of Bing. Of course, we still believe Google is the better search engine, but when it comes to finding images, there are now much better options.

Luckily there is a way to keep on using Google and bring back the view image button. Don’t believe us? Here’s how.

How To Get The “View Image” Button Back

google view image button resurrected

Although the view image button has been officially removed from Google search, there are actually various ways to get it back. Many users have created a range of Chrome and Firefox plugins that resurrect the button back to its rightful place.

If you want to go back to the good times when Google would let you view images, then simply pick and install one of the plugins below.

View Image (Firefox)

google view image plugin

Google Search “View Image” Button (Firefox)

google view image button plugin

After installing one of these plug-ins, simply do a Google image search and check the buttons on the right. You’ll notice a familiar button has suddenly reappeared! Although it’s still early days, it will be interesting to see Google’s response to these new plugins. There is actually a good chance that they could start removing them from the plugin store. However, only time will tell.

For now, you can use Google image search and view images just the way you used to. Now you’ve got the view image button back; you’ll never take it for granted again!