Best tips and tricks for searching through your photos

Best tips and tricks for searching through your photos

Stop scrolling to search for old pictures! Here are hidden ways to find photos by date, subject, and way more on both iPhone and Android

by Kurt Knutsson

Have you ever found yourself scrolling your smartphone’s camera roll endlessly in hopes of finding an old photo?  Whether you have an iPhone or Android phone, you no longer need to do that to find photos.

Searching through photos on your phone is easier than ever and the search features have gotten even more in-depth.

Here are the best tips, tricks, and hidden features you should know while searching through your pictures.


How to easily search through your phone to find photos


How to search through your Google Photos

Google Photos is available for both Android and Apple products and has the most in-depth search features for finding photos. It’s free to use and all you need is a Google account, so if you already use Gmail, you’re all set.

google photos search

google photos search


Find Photos by People, Place, or Thing

Google Photos will group together photos of similar faces, animals, and objects.



The first category on Google Photos is People & Pets. Click View All to see everyone you’ve taken a photo of, and click anyone’s face to set a name. Then you can see all the photos you’ve taken of that person and search using their name. You can do the same for pets, and both options will come in handy for some searches we’ll explain shortly.



Search for a city, state, country, or even specific location. You can type “museum” to get any photos you’ve taken at museums in the past, or select a location option that pops up, I.E. “The Metropolitan Museum of Art.”



Search for a specific object, like “cake” “drink” or “plant” to populate photos containing items. You can search “water” and you’ll see images of beaches, and a glass of water. Or you can be particular and search for “lake” and eliminate the glass of water.


Search photos by Date

You can put an exact date, or a more general time frame in and find photos that way. Try searching “Halloween” to bring up past photos on October 31st, or type “Summer 2017” if you can’t remember a particular date you went on a trip that year.


Search photos by file type

You can specifically type “videos” or you can search “jpeg” if you need a particular type of file for work. You can also search “videos beach” or another specific location to bring up videos you’ve taken somewhere. This is an example of the search terms you can combine, which we’ll now talk more about.


Combine Search Terms to Find Photos

If you want to find all the selfies you’ve taken with a particular family member, when you click search you can tap Selfies, and then under the search bar, add another term. In this case, you would tap the face of the person you want to add and it will popular your selfies with that person.

You can also search for photos of the person in a specific time frame, which is why you’ll want to group together faces on Google Photos. Using these search terms will help you narrow down a particular photo even if you can’t remember exactly where it is in your camera roll.



How to search through your photos in the iPhone Photos app

iphone photo search beach

If you’re an Apple device user, you’re likely familiar with the Photos app that comes on your device. While your photos are automatically saved here, you can also use Google Photos as a backup option for storing photos.  To do a quick search for your photos:

  • If you stick to the Apple Camera Roll, you can also use the search feature to find photos easily.
  • You can also search your iPhone or iPad for photos before you even click on the app.
  • While on your Apple device’s home screen where all of your apps are displayed, tap the middle of the screen and swipe down.  This will pull up a search bar. Type in any search for photos here (IE: Dog) and scroll down. You’ll see results from online, and then you’ll see a section for Photos from App. Click Show More > to see all of your search results in your photos.


Find iPhone Photos by People, Place, or Thing

Like Google Photos, your Photos will recognize particular faces and objects. You can type dog, or you can specifically search “poodle dog” if you’re looking for photos of your family Labradoodle. You can also search for all the photos you’ve taken of or with someone, and combine search terms. Meaning, you can search “cat 2019” and all the photos you took of cats in 2019 will pop up.

Photos will also bring up specific places, so if you took a trip to New York City you can search “5th avenue” or “Brooklyn Bridge” for all of your photos from moments on that trip.


Find photos by Event

Look up “baseball game” or “birthday” as ideas of events to look up.

Apple will suggest categories when you start typing, so if you’re looking up “baseball game” when you type “baseball,” other more specific search terms might be suggested, like “baseball hat” or “baseball gloves” and even more photos will pop up.

The Photos app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac also lets you combine search terms, so you can look up “Texas 2020” or “Easter 2019” if you can’t remember the exact date of a photo there.


Use Visual Lookup

You can use  Visual Lookup to search for a photo of an object, a landmark, an animal, a plant, or more.


Use Live Text

You can also use Live Text to copy, translate, or search for text and objects in your photos. For example, if you have a photo of a sign, a menu, a document, or a book, you can tap and hold on the text to select it, and then perform various actions, such as copying it to the clipboard, translating it to another language, searching for it on the web, or share it. Here’s how to use Live Text.

  • Open any photo that contains text
  • Then look for the Live Text icon, which looks like a square with rounded corners that has three horizontal lines inside it, at the bottom right corner of the screen
  • Tap the icon to activate Live Text, and then tap and hold on the text you want to interact with.  You can Copy, Select All, Look Up, Translate, Search Web, Speak, Spell, or Share.


Create Smart Albums

You can also create Smart Albums, which are automatically created based on your photo metadata, such as location, date, time, people, scene, and more. You can also create your own Smart Albums by applying filters and criteria to your photos.

For example, you can create a Smart Album for all your photos taken at the beach, all your photos with a certain person, or all your photos with a specific color. Here’s how to create a Smart Album

  • Navigate to the Photos app
  • Tap albums at the bottom of the screen
  • Tap the + icon at the top left corner of the Albums tab
  • Then select New Album
  • You can then name your album and hit save


Add captions to photos

You can add your own captions to any photo you’ve taken which can also help expedite the search process in the future. This could be handy for labeling where and when the photo was taken, and if you want to label anyone who may not appear in your photos often.

For example, if you have a group photo from this past Halloween, you could add a caption that includes the kids pictured, their ages, and even their costumes.

To add captions to any photo on an iPhone or iPad,

  • Open your Photos app
  • Select the photo you want to add a caption to
  • Swipe up on the photo, it will reveal additional details underneath the photo
  • Tap the “Add a Caption” field and type anything you want

If you search any of those terms on your phone’s search bar or in Photos, that photo will now pop up more quickly.







KIDS   |    MEN    |    WOMEN    |   TEENS   |    PETS   | 


COOKING    |    COFFEE   |    TOOLS    |    TRAVEL    |    WINE    |





CAR   |    KITCHEN    |   LAPTOP    |   KEYBOARDS   |    PHONE   |    TRAVEL    | KEEP IT COZY    |




ANTIVIRUS    |    VPN   |    SECURE EMAIL    |




Leave a Comment

Subscribe to receive my latest Tech news, security alerts, tips and deals newsletter. (We won't spam or share your email with anyone else.)

By signing up, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Tips to avoid our newsletters going to your junk folder