Quickstart: Search for images with the Bing Image Search API and Java


Bing Search APIs are moving from Cognitive Services to Bing Search Services. Starting October 30, 2020, any new instances of Bing Search need to be provisioned following the process documented here. Bing Search APIs provisioned using Cognitive Services will be supported for the next three years or until the end of your Enterprise Agreement, whichever happens first. For migration instructions, see Bing Search Services.

Use this quickstart to learn how to send search requests to the Bing Image Search API in Azure Cognitive Services. This Java application sends a search query to the API, and displays the URL of the first image in the results. Although this application is written in Java, the API is a RESTful web service compatible with most programming languages.

The source code for this sample is available on GitHub with additional error handling and annotations.


Create an Azure resource

Start using the Bing Image Search API by creating one of the following Azure resources.

Bing Search v7 resource

  • Available through the Azure portal until you delete the resource.
  • Use the free pricing tier to try the service, and upgrade later to a paid tier for production.

Multi-service resource

  • Available through the Azure portal until you delete the resource.
  • Use the same key and endpoint for your applications, across multiple Cognitive Services.

Create and initialize a project

  1. Create a new Java project in your favorite IDE or editor, and import the following libraries:

    import java.net.*;
    import java.util.*;
    import java.io.*;
    import javax.net.ssl.HttpsURLConnection;
    import com.google.gson.Gson;
    import com.google.gson.GsonBuilder;
    import com.google.gson.JsonObject;
    import com.google.gson.JsonParser;
  2. Create variables for the API endpoint, your subscription key, and search term. For host, you can use the global endpoint in the following code, or use the custom subdomain endpoint displayed in the Azure portal for your resource.

    static String subscriptionKey = "enter key here";
    static String host = "https://api.cognitive.microsoft.com";
    static String path = "/bing/v7.0/images/search";
    static String searchTerm = "tropical ocean";

Construct the search request and query

Use the variables from the previous step to format a search URL for the API request. URL-encode the search term before you appended it to the request.

// construct the search request URL (in the form of endpoint + query string)
URL url = new URL(host + path + "?q=" +  URLEncoder.encode(searchQuery, "UTF-8"));
HttpsURLConnection connection = (HttpsURLConnection)url.openConnection();
connection.setRequestProperty("Ocp-Apim-Subscription-Key", subscriptionKey);

Receive and process the JSON response

  1. Receive the JSON response from the Bing Image Search API and construct the result object.

    // receive JSON body
    InputStream stream = connection.getInputStream();
    String response = new Scanner(stream).useDelimiter("\\A").next();
    // construct result object for return
    SearchResults results = new SearchResults(new HashMap<String, String>(), response);
  2. Separate the Bing-related HTTP headers from the JSON body.

    // extract Bing-related HTTP headers
    Map<String, List<String>> headers = connection.getHeaderFields();
    for (String header : headers.keySet()) {
        if (header == null) continue;      // may have null key
        if (header.startsWith("BingAPIs-") || header.startsWith("X-MSEdge-")) {
            results.relevantHeaders.put(header, headers.get(header).get(0));
  3. Close the stream, and parse the response. Get the total number of returned search results and the thumbnail url to the first image result.

    JsonParser parser = new JsonParser();
    JsonObject json = parser.parse(result.jsonResponse).getAsJsonObject();
    //get the first image result from the JSON object, along with the total
    //number of images returned by the Bing Image Search API.
    String total = json.get("totalEstimatedMatches").getAsString();
    JsonArray results = json.getAsJsonArray("value");
    JsonObject first_result = (JsonObject)results.get(0);
    String resultURL = first_result.get("thumbnailUrl").getAsString();

Example JSON response

Responses from the Bing Image Search API are returned as JSON. This sample response has been truncated to show a single result.

"readLink":"images\/search?q=tropical ocean",
"webSearchUrl":"https:\/\/www.bing.com\/images\/search?q=tropical ocean&FORM=OIIARP",
        "name":"My Life in the Ocean | The greatest WordPress.com site in ...",
        "contentSize":"897388 B",
            "text":"Tropical Beaches Desktop Wallpaper",
            "displayText":"Tropical Beaches Desktop Wallpaper",

Next steps

See also