Find Free and Public Domain Images With Google

Use Google's advanced search features

the bund of Shanghai reflected in a magnifying glass
fanjianhua / Getty Images

Want to use a picture you saw on the web on your blog or website? If you don't have permission to use that image, you could get into trouble. Play it safe and use a filter in Google Image Search to find pictures that are licensed for reuse.

By default, Google Image Search shows you images without regard to copyright or licensing, but you can filter your search for images that are either licensed for reuse through Creative Commons or are in the public domain by using Advanced Image Search.

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Using Advanced Image Search

Go to Google Image Search and enter a search term in the search field. It will return a full page of images that match your search term.

Click Settings at the top of the screen of images and select Advanced Search from the drop-down menu.

In the Advanced Image Search screen that opens, go to the Usage rights section and select free to use or share or free to use or share, even commercially from the drop-down menu.

If you're using the images for non-commercial purposes, you don't need the same level of filtering as you do if you're using the images on an ad-sponsored blog or website.

Before you click the Advanced Search button, look at the other options on the screen to further filter the images.

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The Advanced Image Search screen contains other options you can choose. You can specify size, aspect ratio, color or black and white images, region, and file type among other options.

You can filter out explicit images in this screen, change the search term, or limit the search to a specific domain. 

After you complete your additional selections, if any, click the Advanced Search ​button to open a screen filled with images that meet your criteria.​​

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Image Terms and Conditions

A tab at the top of the screen that opens allows you to toggle between different usage categories. In general:

  • Labeled for reuse is the broadest setting. It searches for images with some sort of reuse permission.
  • Labeled for commercial reuse specifies images available for use on commercial websites.
  • Labeled for reuse with modification indicates you may either reuse or modify the image in some way.
  • Labeled for commercial reuse with modification is a more restrictive filter. It displays images that are not only reusable for commercial purposes but modifiable.

Regardless of the category you pick, click any image that interests you and read the specific limitations or requirements for using that image before you download it.

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