Google Lens is a great way to search the web from your mobile. Rather than using keywords to home in on what you’re looking for, a quick photo snapped on your camera is all it takes to search for a pair of shoes, or to quickly identify an unknown plant in your garden.
But the tool is even more versatile than that. It can also be used to translate signs and other text in foreign languages, solve mathematical formulae, or just copy large sections of a printed text to save having to type it by hand.
Now Google is bringing a Lens-powered options to Chrome on the desktop, turbocharging searches with completely new options.
- Chrome is getting a powerful screenshot and sharing tool
- Google Chrome is getting a serious HTTPS security update
- Google is giving tabs a major upgrade in Chrome
The new feature lets you harness the power of Google Lens and use it to search the web for a section of a website. It can be used to search for images, text, and more, as we will come to shortly. But there is something to get out of the way first.
There are a couple of hoops you need to jump through before you can take advantage of the new search features Google has added to Chrome.
First of all, you need to make use you are running the latest Canary build of Chrome. Secondly, you will need to tweak a setting as the feature is not enabled by default:
- Launch Chrome Canary and visit chrome://flags
- Search for Enable Lens Region Search
- Use the drop-down menu to select Enabled
- Restart Chrome
Life through a lens
With this done, you can access the new search tool by simply right clicking on a pages. In the context menu, you should see a new Search Part of the page with Google Lens option. This is your entry point to searching.
The next thing you will need to do is to draw a box around the portion of the current pages that you would like to use as the basis for a search – just like using the selection tool in an image editor. You can draw around an image on the page to find other instances – or similar images – elsewhere online, or you can select text to save having to type. Experiment and see what works for you.
Analysis: Deja Vu?
If this idea sounds familiar, it might be because it is not a million miles remove from the “Search with Screenshot” option that can be found in Microsoft Edge.
Which you prefer is really a matter of taste, and the differences between the two are not really great enough to convince any Edge users to switch to Chrome or vice versa.
At the moment, Google’s implementation seems a little unstable, but this is not entirely surprising as we’re looking at the unreleased Canary build of Chrome. It’s hard to imagine that Google won’t improve things dramatically before the wider rollout later in the year. With Lens proving to be a popular and powerful option for mobile users, it’s great to see that Google is giving desktop users a look in, providing access to very similar tools without the need for a camera.
- Check out our guide to the best browsers