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Grab big pics off Google Images the easy way

Use Google's Images search to grab big pictures for desktop wallpapers and the like? A new Firefox extension might save you some time.

If you happen to frequent Google's Images search tool with the intention of grabbing the full-quality version of whatever image you're looking for, you've probably noticed Google makes you jump through some hoops to get there.

In fact, Microsoft and Yahoo do the same thing, but it's with good reason: to offer you the full version of the image without actually visiting the page removes the context of why it's there, and makes the search engines more of a content leech than a beneficial traffic director.

The good news, is that if you feel like taking some shortcuts, there's a new Firefox extension that melts away these moral productivity burdens. Called "Google Image Help," this non-Google affiliated tool adds a new "open full size Google image" item to your contextual menu. Selecting that option when right-clicking on a thumbnail preview from Google's Images search simply opens up the source image in a new browser tab.

The Google Image Help extension can save you time clicking through to the source destination of a site where an image is hosted. Screenshot by Josh Lowensohn/CNET

When the system works, it works well, though one annoying bit about it is that that option will remain in your context menu no matter what you're clicking on. Some other extensions have managed to do a better job at hiding their presence until they're actually needed like that neat Picnik image editor extension we checked out a few weeks ago.

For users of Greasemonkey, there's a simple script called "view Google images full," which does the same thing without the extension install.