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Seven alternative Flickr search engines

Looking for ways to search through Flickr images without using the site's own search feature? From color searching to simple search, we've got you covered.

Flickr announced Tuesday that it has improved its search tool. The site's search results page now allows users to see small previews of photos and get details on those pictures without being forced to visit the individual photo page. It's a nice improvement.

But if you're looking for something a little different, these Flickr alternatives are worth checking out.

Flickr search services

Bubblr Aside from the fact that it lets you search for photos by tag or user name, the real focus of Bubblr is to help you create a comic strip that you can publish for the Bubblr Archive.

When you search for pictures on Bubblr, it displays your search results next to the search box. From there, you can either go to the photo's respective Flickr page, or drag and drop images into your comic strip. When you create a comic strip, you can also add dialog bubbles to tell a story. When you're ready, Bubblr lets you publish your comic strip to its archive. I was pleased with how well Bubblr worked. Search was quick, dragging images worked beautifully, and the finished product was great.

Bubblr lets you add dialog boxes to your images. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Compfight Compfight allows you to search Flickr by tag or text. So, if you choose to find photos by the tags associated with images, simply input a keyword, and Compfight will do the rest. It displays several images matching the query.

If you're looking to search Flickr based on the text associated with pictures, Compfight will do that, too. In my experience, changing how you search will change the results quite substantially. When you click on an image, you'll be brought to its respective Flickr page. Thanks to a simple search box and little clutter, Compfight is easy to use. I liked it.

Compfight lists several search results for any Flickr query. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Findr Findr is an interesting Flickr search engine. Once you input a query into the small search box, it provides several images that have tags matching your search. You can either click one of those images to view the photo or drill down into the search with more tags to find exactly what you're looking for.

To do that, you'll need to choose other tags under the search box to refine your search. Unfortunately, those tags are extremely small, so the only way to read them is to hover your mouse over the words. When you click one of those tags, the app searches Flickr for both keywords. It goes on like that until you find the desired picture.

Findr, as a premise, can be an extremely helpful tool. But with such a small search box, small tags, and slow search, it doesn't quite stack up to the other services in this roundup.

Findr is a nice concept, but it doesn't deliver. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Flickr Related Tag browser The Flickr Related Tag browser isn't as easy to use as some of the other services in this roundup, but it makes up for that with a unique way to search for Flickr photos.

After you input a query into the search engine (it searches through Flickr tags), the app displays the results. You can click on a picture in those results, which will bring it to the front. Flanking those pictures, you'll see a wheel of tags. When you click on those tags, you'll have more accurate results for what you're looking for. So, if you're searching for the iPhone, you might also be given the option to pick "MacBook." If you click that, you'll find images of both products. It's a neat way to display results and help you find pictures you really want. But if you're looking for something simple (and a search engine that doesn't take so long to load), go elsewhere.

Flickr Related Tag Browser is unique, but not perfect. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

FlickrStorm If you're looking for Flickr photos that are made available through a Creative Commons license, FlickrStorm is for you.

Overall, searching on FlickrStorm was just fine. It searches by sifting through picture tags. I would have liked the search to be a little quicker, but since it gives you so many options based on your needs, you'll probably give it a pass. FlickrStorm is ideal if you write a blog or you're looking to add some pictures to a presentation. Check it out.

FlickrStorm helps you find photos that are under a Creative Commons License. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Multicolr Search Lab Multicolr Search Lab is designed for Web designers or those looking for some really neat pictures. Instead of allowing you to search Flickr by keyword or tag, Multicolr searches for photos on Flickr based on the color you're looking for. At any given time, you can search for images containing up to 10 colors.

When you get to Multicolr, you'll see several colors displayed. Once you click on the image, it immediately displays Flickr pictures matching that color. As you continue to click colors, Multicolr changes the results accordingly. Even better, all the images Multicolr Search Lab finds are offered under a Creative Commons license, so you won't need to worry about any legal issues if you put the image that matches your site's color scheme on a Web page. Multicolr Search Lab is one of the nicer services in this roundup. Check it out.

Multicolr Search Lab helps you find the color you like. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

PiciShare PiciShare is a basic Flickr search engine. Simply input a query into the Picishare search box and it will display all the results that match it. When you click on an image, you'll be brought to its Flickr page. You can use PiciShare to search Flickr by tags or the text included in the images. You can sort results by how "interesting" a picture is, the image's relevance to your query, or when it was taken. Those options help you find what you're looking for sooner. PiciShare is a great search engine. Check it out.

PiciShare is a straight Flickr search engine that's worth checking out. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

My top 3

1. PiciShare: It's straight search, but it's simple and convenient.

2. Multicolr Search Lab: MultiColr Search Lab is simply too cool to pass up.

3. FlickrStorm: If you want licensed images, FlickrStorm is for you.