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How To Use Taobao Image Search and Alternatives

Updated on August 2, 2021

In the last few days (since July 27th, 2021), as a domestic Taobao user, I found that I can’t use Taobao’s image search function on my desktop anymore,

At first, I thought it was temporary technical maintenance or something because Taobao has done this before.

However, several days have passed and it seems they still haven’t added this feature, so I contacted their customer service and this is their reply:

I translated their response into English like this:

“thank you for using Taobao, Taobao desktop image search function has been taken offline, you can use the mobile image search the same function (Taobao photo)”

No surprise, they totally removed this image search feature from the desktop!

I know many foreigners rely on image search to find things on Taobao, so I took some time to update this article.

I’ve added one way to continue using image search on desktop and other image search methods, if you care about this issue, you can’t miss this article.

1. Taobao Image search on desktop

Taobao canceled the image search function on the home page, but in the product results page, they still keep the image search function, you need to click here to come to this page.

Then you can use the image search function as before on the desktop.

Step 1. change region on Taobao

Most of the time, when you try taobao.com, you will be redirected to world.taobao.com.but the image search feature is not enabled on world.taobao.com.

so the first thing you need to do is change from your region to 中国大陆. see screenshot below:

Step 2. upload the image

this step is pretty easy and straightforward, just click that little camera icon at the end of the search bar to upload the image.

There is something you need to take note of:

  • the image format must be .jpg or png.
  • image size should be larger than 201*201
  • image file size should be less than or equal to 5M

Step 3. Taobao image search results

Taobao will find and display listings that are the same or similar to the image(with price tagged!). Clicking on any product image will direct you to a specific product page.

Don’t forget to change your location back to your country if you want to use Taobao official forwarding service.

Step 4. select an object or area on the image

this is a more advanced feature for an image with multiple objects.

for example, in step 3, the search results showed the skirt this girl wears, but what if your intention is to search the boots, well, this feature enables you to select and search the exact object or area of the image.

Click “框选主体”, in the popup, move that rectangle to select the boots, then click “确定(means confirm)” to search again(see screenshot below). now you can see all boots that are similar to the one in the image.

2. Image search on pailitao

Pailitao is the official name of the Taobao image search engine, It is embedded in taobao.com and Taobao mobile app.

It also has an independent website which is www.pailitao.com, you can use the Taobao image search engine on this website.

Using image search on pailitao.com works the same way as in taobao.com. so I am not going to talk too much here.

3. Taobao Image search on your mobile devices

Taobao still keeps the image search function on mobile, in fact, this is the purpose of their removal of the image search function on PC:

they want you to use the Taobao app so that they can collect consumer data and behavior more accurately!

As a foreigner, you can use their image search function both on the Taobao app or the Taobao lite app.

Step 1. download and install the Taobao app

here is the official link to download Taobao app or search “手机淘宝” in your app store.

if you want to use the Taobao lite app, you can search “淘寶Lite” in your app store.

Step 2. Active the “Camera” icon on the top of the app

Step 3. Press the “Camera” icon to capture the product

then press the pink “Camera” icon at the bottom of your app to capture the product.
or if you want to choose an image from the photo gallery of your phone, click the “相册” icon which is on the left of this pink camera icon.

Step 4. search results

Now Taobao will show all the products on taobao.com that have similar images

4. Aliprice Taobao Image Search Chrome Extension

Aliprice is a third party company that develops tools to help you search and compare prices of products on famous Chinese websites.

Their image search plugin supports a very large number of shopping sites, including Taobao.

you can click here to go to google webstore to install this plugin.

You can use the image search by clicking the search icon in the upper left corner,

or right-hand click the image you found on the web and select “Search by image on Taobao(在淘宝上以图搜同款)”

I tested their plugin and the image search function is quite stable and fast.

One thing I want to clarify here, because they don’t mention it on their website, is that they add their affiliate id on the link of the product,

In other words, they may receive a certain commission when you shop at these Chinese sites after using their plugin.

Other than that, their image search plugin and the check product history price feature are still very helpful for those who plan to purchase products from these Chinese sites.

5. Final words

There you have it, folks. You have now learned useful tips to search on Taobao for your products—and I hope with these tips, Taobao shopping “somewhat” will be easier and simpler for you!

Please leave a comment below or let me know any questions you have. I’d love to hear what you think!

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23 thoughts on “How To Use Taobao Image Search and Alternatives”

  1. Hello! I have been using Taobao for a few years and I love the search function by image. However I noticed it disappeared when I made a search this morning. Have you noticed any recent changes? Do you know if there is a way around it?

  2. Hi I can’t seem to search photo using Taobao app lately. It always show me ‘please try again later(412)’ I redownload the app. I restart my phone. It doesn’t work. Please reply me.

  3. Hi I am really struggling. I managed to translate but none of the links I click on open. Eg I want to look at sofas, I click on the word and the link is broken. This article is great I’m sure but searchinf on this website is so complicated, why?!

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