How to Find the Best Free Images
You’d be forgiven for thinking that using any image on the internet is fair game.
When you set up your website and blog using Namecheap’s hosting options (including EasyWP, our new managed WordPress hosting service), you’ll want to include images on your site.
You need to make sure you either own the rights (or have a license) to all of the images you use, or the images are copyright-free. The good news is that there are ways to find the images you want even on a tight budget. It’s all about knowing where to look.
Below we’ll discuss some of the best resources out there for finding free images.
Our Top Picks
Pixabay offers a diverse, versatile array of images. You will probably find what you want from their free selection. They also have sponsored images from Shutterstock that appear at the top of the search, so be careful not to confuse these for the free ones.
Pixabay has very unambiguous licensing terms, which is always useful. The images can be used for anything (personal and commercial), both unmodified and modified as you see fit.
In order to use these images, all you need to do is complete a simple CAPTCHA. As much as we find it irksome giving free labor to these robotic overlords, in this instance, it feels like a more-than-fair deal. Alternatively, you can create an account and download images without the CAPTCHA. As with many of these sites, you can volunteer to donate.
This is a fantastic resource and is easily our #1 choice.
- Stocksnap.io and Unsplash
We’ve grouped Stocksnap and Unsplash together, as they both have a similar offering: fantastic, HD images uploaded by their members. Their selection includes many architectural photos and landscapes, and most of their images will make great background images.
Both focus on the community aspect of their sites. Unsplash has a neat feature allowing you to like and donate money specifically to the photographer whose image you use.
Because of the way these sites get their images (member uploads), there is some overlap and some images appear on both sites.
The good thing about these sites is their no-hassle, one-click download. You will probably find their image bank isn’t quite as vast as Pixabay, but the quality is there and ease-of-use is second to none. Simply click and download.
Dreamstime has a huge amount of royalty-free images for free or a low price.
To find free images, cut straight to the free image search tab. Dreamstime can be a little confusing. For example, if your search result returns no free images on the above search, it will put paid images underneath.
Because the free images are part of one of the largest databases out there, it can be nice to easily see the alternatives you can get for the small amount of money they ask.
- Google Advanced Image Search
Google Images is always an option for images because it’s vast and comprehensive with a search that’s second-to-none.
Navigate to Advanced Image Search, scroll down to ‘Usage rights’, and select ‘Free to use or share, even commercially’ – there is also a ‘free to edit’ option if you’re so inclined.
Because Google Image Search simply provides a list of results from a broad search engine, there’s no guarantee that the images are truly free to use. You should double check every image you get from GIS, as some uploaders who claim things are copyright-free don’t actually own the copyright themselves.
Google does make this easier for you. If you upload an image on image search, Google will list everywhere that image appears on the web; a clever little tool, really.
- Picjumbo & Kaboompics
The final two on our list are perhaps less comprehensive than the others but have some brilliant pictures.
Picjumbo and Kaboompics represent some of the best of the smaller companies that offer free images. You type in a keyword like ‘apple’ and you may or may not get the image you expect, but if you persevere, you can find some awesome stuff.
Picjumbo is a very dexterous site, with a fantastic offering. In our test searches, it fared slightly better than Kaboompics at giving us the results we wanted. A couple of caveats: you’ll need to close the annoying popup, and ignore the confusing search bar for another website.
Meanwhile, Kaboompics also has a number of neat tricks, including a category sort, horizontal and vertical sort, and even a color sort – which can be useful in certain situations. This site has a homely feel that we like, and the images pack a punch too.
Of course, if you do have a budget, there are many stock photo sites that you can choose from to purchase licenses for stock images. Three you should definitely check out are Adobe Stock, Shutterstock, and Getty Images.
All three have huge banks of images and you’re unlikely not to find what you’re looking for. Always be careful you purchase the correct license for your needs from these sites – but that’s a whole other blog post!
No time to waste
Now you know how easy it is to enhance your website with color, life, and emotion, perhaps the task of setting up a website won’t seem so daunting.
Making it even easier, check out EasyWP, Namecheap’s new managed WordPress hosting. It’s just $8.88 for the whole first year.
And let us know if you know of other great resources for free (and copyright-free!) images on the web.
Jamie Long is a writer and blogger from London, UK. He has worked professionally for several well-known companies and is delighted to be aboard the Namecheap creative team. In his spare time, he writes music and comedy.