Microsoft has freed Bing Visual Search from the web and brought it to the desktop.

Now included as part of Windows Search, the feature allows you to search images which are currently on your desktop in other applications and browsers for related content on the web.

GIF showing how Visual Search works, using searching for a blue couch as an example, with similar results popping up after sniping a screenshot of the couch

In the example above, a user is looking for a blue couch as an example, with similar results popping up after sniping a screenshot of the couch.

“Visual search is a new way of searching,” says Ravi Yada, product lead for Bing Visual Search. “There are a lot of things you can’t describe in words to get good enough results. By using an image as input for search, Bing can help you search what you see.”

Visual Search will also work with screenshots, via a pulldown menu in the Photos app, showing the choice to click on similar results

“We found people also wanted to search with screenshots, so we brought searching with screen snips to the Windows search bar,” says Nektarios Ioannides, Bing Image Search lead.

For instance, if you’re planning your wardrobe for winter and you want inspiration from what your favourite celebs are wearing? You’ll find similar results. Or you might be shopping for furniture and see a sofa you like. Snip it and use it to comparison shop with Visual Search results.

Aside from finding similar products, Visual Search can recognize landmarks, flowers, celebrities, animals. It also recognizes text in images, so you can copy or search it. For developers, there’s an API to incorporate Visual Search within products and apps they create.

“Search is evolving. We’re still expanding the breadth of capabilities,” Ioannides says. “It’s cool to see the growth and excitement it generates, especially as we move into a world where using our eyes to search becomes more common.”

Like most things, the feature is currently US-only and requires the Windows 10 May 2019 Update or later.

Via Search Engine Land