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Finding and Using Images

Image Search Engines

  • Google Image Search:  The advanced search feature allows you to narrow results by usage rights, and gives options for Creative Commons licenses and Commercial licenses (choose Creative Commons for images with licenses that allow you to share and adapt them for free). You can also filter the search by size, color, time it was published, or type, such as clip art, line drawing, or GIF. 

screenshot highlighting the usage rights drop down options in Google images


  • Wikimedia CommonsPart of the Wikipedia family, Wikimedia contains images, video and audio files that are explicitly free to use with public domain and freely-licensed educational media content. Click on the image to view copyright parameters. 


  • Flickr: Flickr does not search the web for images but is an online photo management site with individual and institutional participants. Be sure to change the license settings from "Any license" to "All creative commons" or other licenses that allow reuse (see image below). The Flickr Commons is a part of their database that contains photos that come from institutions that want to share their digital collections, such as NASA, The Smithsonian, and The British Library. These tend to be historical images whose copyright has expired, or government images in the public domain.

screenshot highlighting the types of licenses available in a drop down filter on all creative commons, commercial use allowed, modifications allowed, commercial use & mods allowed, no known copyright restrictions, and U.S. government works


  • CC Search: From Creative Commons, this is a tool that allows openly licensed and public domain works to be discovered and used by everyone. It searches across 300 million images, combining results across multiple public repositories. After a search, it provides a useful filter to limit by CC license (see an explanation of each by expanding the "?" button).

screenshot showing creative commons license types


Last Updated: Feb 13, 2024 2:32 PM