A collage of photos of people in different places.

Best Sites to Download Free Images in 2023

Discover where to download free images for personal or commercial use and learn the intricacies of royalty free photos, creative commons and copyright.

You’re about to discover the best sites to download free images in 2023.

More importantly, you’ll learn what royalty-free pictures you can use legally for personal or commercial use.

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding exactly what pictures are free to use and which require an image license.

You could be liable to pay damages for copyright infringement if you use a copyrighted photo online (or on social media) without a license or agreement.

But don’t worry – by the end of this article, you’ll know where to find the best free images online and exactly how you can use them.

Best Websites Offering Completely Free Images in 2023

These are the top websites that offer high-quality images you can use free of charge.

Some websites offer free stock photos made purposely for download, while others are carefully curated user-generated free images.

Most of these free stock photos are licensed with a COO license, meaning they’re free to use without attribution to the image creator.

You can get free images from all these websites without signing up.


A screen shot of a website with the word 'unsplash'.

  • Free to use
  • Simple to navigate
  • User-friendly search options
  • Option to fine-tune search
  • A huge variety of photos are available
  • Easy to use
  • High-quality photos
  • Option to donate to photographer
  • Some images in the feed are locked

There is no social media manager or web designer who hasn’t heard of Unsplash.

Unsplash is our top pick of free stock photo sites for good reason.

It is the best by leaps and bounds, with incredible and well-picked free photos.

Their selection is high quality with a great mix of professional and everyday themes.

Do you need free stock photos with a professional edge for your business promotions?

Unsplash has an incredible selection and will most likely have exactly what you need.

You can fine-tune your search by clicking the keywords below the search bar.

Images are cost-free, royalty-free, and damn easy to find.

You can browse featured collections, photos or the photographer’s own collection.

There is the option to donate a thank you tip to the photographer.

Unsplash photographers can upload ten new images every ten days. Currently, they boast over five million free stock photos.

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The main hurdle you will face when using Unsplash is choosing one amazing image over another.

Oh, and it only supports JPEG images – you can’t download RAW photos just yet.


Free stock photos, royalty free images, videos shared by creators.

  • Completely free
  • Easy to navigate
  • Extra search bar options to refine your search
  • Thousands of images are available
  • Mix of themes
  • Simple to use
  • High-quality images
  • Can donate to the photographer
  • It is a popular website, so images you use might appear on another website

Gorgeous royalty-free images are available to use for personal and business purposes.

Pexels has an excellent search function, which makes it quick and easy to hone your search.

Hit a keyword in the menu under the search bar to refine your search.

The Pexels license is similar to the CC0 license. It permits you to use images for commercial or personal use without attribution.

There are over 3 million free photos available. So, there is no excuse for not finding precisely what you are looking for.

You can browse the hot and most viewed photos, follow photographers and like images.

There is no need to sign in; free stock photos can be downloaded straight from the feed.

You can create collections, like images, and follow talented photographers.


A screen shot of a website with the words proboy.

  • It’s free to use
  • Straight forward to navigate
  • Easy to fine-tune search
  • A huge variety of photos
  • Option to download in different sizes
  • Links direct to Canva for editing
  • High-quality photos
  • Possible to donate to the photographer
  • CC0 License
  • Some images look odd

It is a fantastic and easy-to-use platform with many royalty-free images to choose from.

Following the Creative Commons Zero license agreement, also called CC0.

This means images can be used without attribution, which is handy if you forget to tag the photo.

The Pixabay platform offers a whooping four million free photos to browse through.

It has one of the largest databases of free stock photos and even has some videos.

Pixabay provides keyword suggestions to aid in refining your search.

If you search “carnival”, similar keywords will be suggested, such as “festival”, “Fun Fair”, “Circus”, and more.

Pixabay has a neat feature for easy editing. Click the Canva button under download, and the picture will be sent straight to Canva.

This nifty link saves you the hassle of downloading and uploading.


A screen shot of a website that sells high quality stock photos.

  • Free to use
  • High-quality images
  • Unique images
  • Royalty free photos
  • Limited range

Today, the web is saturated with free stock photos, making it harder to find unique visuals.

Download an image of a cat in a pink dress to advertise a child’s beverage.

The next day, the same image is on a billboard to advertise paint stripper. Not ideal.

Platforms like Pikiwizard have an extensive range of inspiring free stock photos.

Yet, they are not widely used in the public domain.

Wham bam, there are still stock photo sites with distinct images.

Royalty-free images under the Pikwizard license agreement. Images can be used for commercial or personal use, and attribution is not required.


Beautiful free stock photos.

  • Lots of free images
  • Easy to use
  • Royalty-free
  • Good search function
  • CC0 License
  • Limited range

StockSnap’s images are available under the CC0 license.

Otherwise known as a “do-what-you-what-with” license.

This means they are free to use, and no attribution is required.

Images can be used freely for non-commercial or commercial purposes.

Stocksnap has thousands of quality photos to use. They are well-organized and easy to navigate.

The keyword suggestions help refine your search and give inspiration for your theme.

On Stocksnap, you will find stunning and free stock photos for almost any purpose.

It is not one of the big stock photo site giants, but it is growing daily.

New Old Stock

other stock photo sites

  • Free to use
  • High quality
  • Unique and vintage images
  • All are free for personal and non-commercial use
  • Not all are CC0 license
  • Niche

New Old Stock has a great selection of black and white and vintage photos.

Make sure you check photo user rights. Not all images for download are under the Creative Commons Zero license agreement.

You can find free images, but some are only free to a degree. This means you might have to give an attribute or only use it for personal purposes.


stock photo sites most free image sites

  • Free to use
  • Quality high-resolution photos
  • Easy to add graphics, overlays and enhance images
  • Need to create an account
  • Cumbersome to use for one download
  • Difficult to refine the search to find the right photo

Canva is best known as an editing tool, but it also offers an incredible selection of free stock images.

When using Canva, you quickly add elements and overlays to your chosen photo.

This is fantastic if you need to add graphics to your royalty-free stock images.

However, Canva might not be the best option if you don’t intend to add graphic components or text.

Signing in and navigating Canva’s extensive selection of editing tools can be off-putting.

This is especially true if you are only looking for a couple of free pictures or just one stock photo.

More Options for Free Images on Other Stock Photo Sites

These are some of the best free stock photo sites. But don’t stop there; there are so many to choose from.

Each has advantages and disadvantages, so they are all worth a peek.

For example, if you need food images, check out Foodiesfeed. They have thousands of pictures of food, ingredients, and cooking.

Here are a few more websites with free stock photos: New Old Stock, Picjumbo, Startup Stock Photos, Kamboopics, Morguefile, SplitShire and Burst.

Who knows, one of the free image sites might have images that fit your unique niche.

Best Royalty-Free Image Libraries (Free Stock Photos)

These are the best stock photography sites that offer more unique, better-quality images in various resolutions and styles.

Depending on the license type you purchase, these royalty-free images can be used for personal or commercial purposes.

Adobe Stock

free stock photo sites

  • Royalty free images
  • Extensive range
  • Images for every niche
  • High-quality images
  • Full-size preview available
  • Value for money
  • Personal library lags

Adobe Stock has an incredible array of well-curated, royalty-free stock collections.

The stock photos are well-organized and easy to navigate.

You will have no problems finding exactly the image you want. Adobe Stoke has one of the most extensive collections.

Although with 200 million high-resolution images, it can be easy to get lost browsing.

There are images to suit every purpose you can think of, from professional to every day.

Adobe Stock boasts ample royalty-free photos, plus they also have videos and graphics.

The only problem you will have is choosing from such an impressive selection.


Free vector art stock photos and videos.

  • Royalty-Free
  • High quality
  • Quality vector graphics
  • Built-in editor
  • Some are free
  • Sometimes, the search is inaccurate

Vecteezy has strict upload guidelines, resulting in a treasure trove of quality images.

Make sure you check photo user rights.

Vecteezy offers cheap subscription plans, but you can also find free images too.

It is a great resource known for its excellent collection of graphics and vectors.

It is well worth a look, even if it is better known for its vector graphics than stock images.


 Paid option media type

  • Royalty-Free
  • High-resolution images
  • Advanced search
  • Easy to use
  • Designer tools
  • Extensive range
  • The cost

Shutterstock has a vast library of high-quality, royalty-free photos.

With AI-driven insights, you will have no problem locating the ideal image.

Their huge range makes it the perfect one-stop fix for any project.

Shutterstock plugins for editing software make it fast and easy to edit photos.

It is definitely worth trying their one-month free trial to see if it suits your needs.

What You Need to Know About Royalty-Free Images

There’s a lot to know about licensing laws. You don’t want to be caught out with a hefty fine when using images.

Here’s a rundown of the basics to help you stay fine-free.

What is a Creative Commons license used on stock photo sites?

Creative Commons (CC) licenses allow free use of creative products.

This includes videos, graphics and photos. Images that hold this license can be used for personal or business purposes.

All Creative Commons images don’t require payment, but they always require attribution.

There are six types of Creative Commons License. All require that the user provides recognition to the creator.

Don’t confuse the Create Common License with the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.

The Zero License does not require that you credit the artist.

Under a CC0 license, images can used for commercial and personal purposes.

Most of the free stock photos online are licensed with a CC0 license.

This means they’re free to use without attribution to the image creator.

What are Royalty-Free Images?

Royalty-free is not copyright-free. There is a copyright holder involved.

The copyright owner licenses the right to use their property, but they do not sell ownership.

Copyright law still applies to royalty-free items unless otherwise stated.

A royalty-free image licence does not necessarily mean the image is cost-free.

A royalty can be paid to the copyright holder, or it might be free to use.

However, it does mean the user will not have to pay additional royalties every time they reuse the image.

It is a one-off payment with no additional costs.

What are Copyright-Free Photos?

Copyright is a legal term to state ownership over an original work – you can learn how to copyright images.

Copyright usually applies to works of creative expression, including videos and photos.

Original work does not need a certificate of copyright.

If it is original, it is automatically copyrighted to the creator.

Copyright-free images are images the owner has donated their work for public use.

Thus, a copyright-free image can be used by any person for free.

There are a few ways to check if an image is not copyright-free.

The most obvious is if the image is watermarked.

Another is if there are contact details or an image credit attached to the image.

You can also check the image metadata or do a reverse Google search.

Lastly, you can search the copyright office database.

Typically, image copyright lasts for 70 years after the creator’s death.

Then, the image will become a public domain image.

This is true even if someone else owns the copyright.

What are Public Domain Images?

A public domain image is a visual work that is public property. The public owns these images.

Public domain images are not subject to intellectual property laws. Such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws.

No one can own a public domain image.

This means anyone can use the image without obtaining permission or paying a fee.

A public domain image can be edited and used for commercial purposes or for making a profit.

There are three main reasons why an image becomes public property.

The copyright never existed in the first place.

The copyright owner has donated it to the public domain.

Lastly, the copyright has expired.

Can you legally use Google Images?

Google logos on a computer screen.

The short answer is Yes, but…

To legally use a Google image, you must first check if it is protected by copyright.

If the image holds a copyright license, you must pay the owner a fee to use it legally.

When the Google image is a public domain image or copyright-free, you can use it freely.

It’s important to check the image’s licensing agreement when using Google Images.

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You can refine Google’s search results to only show images under the Creative Commons license.

When your image search results are displayed, go to “Tools” and from here “Usage Rights”.

From the drop-down menu, select “Creative Commons licence”.

Now, all the search results displayed will be under the Creative Common licence.

Because a Google image is online and in the public domain, it does not mean they are copyright-free.

So, you cannot use images from Google without seeking permission.

Unless your intended use falls under an exception of open licences.

How to tell if an image has been copyrighted

You don’t want to get stuck with a big fine for illegally using a copyrighted image.

So always check first if an image is copyrighted.

Here are a few ways to check.

The most obvious way to know is if the image has a watermark.

When you pay to use the image, the owner will send you a watermark-free version.

If the image has a credit attached, it could be copyrighted.

Sometimes people credit an artist to show respect, not because it is copyrighted.

Another way to check if an image is copyrighted is to check its metadata.

Metadata can contain copyright information.

You can also try a reverse Google search to see if an image is copyrighted.

And lastly, if in doubt, don’t use it. You don’t want to end up with a huge fine.

There are many copyright-free images online. They are often free and easy to find.

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