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Side Image Search for Default Search Engines

This doc provides guidance and examples of how to adapt an existing Chrome Default Search Engine (DSE) to participate in side-image search experience.

What is side-image search?

Side-image search offers Chrome users the ability to open a small form factor Image Search Results Page (ISRP), representing their image search query, in a browser sidebar UI. This UI gives users the ability to find the result they are looking for faster, without having to navigate back-and-forth between the ISRP and a given page that they are viewing.

The ISRP hosted in the sidebar represents the ISRP for the given page. This ISRP is universal i.e. it stays open and the same even when users are visiting different tabs.

How Chrome Default Search Engines can participate in side-image search?

Side panel image search leverages a Chrome DSE's configuration as specified in prepopulated_engines.json. A DSE looking to participate in side panel image search must define the side_image_search_param field with an appropriate string value.

When the user issues an image search query by selecting Search Images with {Search Engine} if the side_image_search_param exists, Chrome will use the value for side_image_search_param to construct a new sidebar URL by appending the query parameter to the image_url of the form value={version} where:

This constructed URL is then used to fetch the image search results for the sidebar, at the request of the user. The page served for the sidebar should be responsive to accommodate a narrow but resizable UI surface and should reflect the original search page.

When the user clicks on Open in a New Tab button, this additional query param (side_image_search_param value) will be removed from the URL and the resultant URL will be opened in a new tab, closing the side panel.

Example - Google

Google's integration with the side panel image search offers an instructive example.

The side_panel_search_param field is added to Google's entry in prepopulated_engines.json.

"google": {
    "name": "Google",
    "keyword": "",
    "side_image_search_param": "sideimagesearch",
    "id": 1

This is then used to construct the sidebar URL from a given Google image search URL. For the following search query:

The following sidebar URL is constructed:

When the user hits Open in a New Tab, the side_image_search_param query param is removed and the the resultant URL is opened in a new tab:

How can I customize the label that we show in the image search context menu and combo box dropdown?

Side panel image search combo box label is derived from DSE's configuration as specified in prepopulated_engines.json. A DSE looking to customize the label in the side panel combobox should add image_search_branding_label to the file. This value will be displayed as the image search label in the combo box dropdown, while the image search context menu string will read Search Images with {image_search_branding_label}.

What icon do you show in the side panel combobox drop down?

For the side panel we show the same favicon as the search favicon.


Side panel image search routes navigations originating from the sidebar using the following rules:

These rules allow users to open search result links from the sidebar in a new tab, preventing the ISRP from deloading and allowing them to quickly find the result they are looking for. This also allows users to refine their search query within the sidebar itself.