9 Best Websites for Public Domain Images

High-res public domain photos that are 100% free

Public domain images are perfect for multiple reasons, from putting the finishing touches on a blog post or website to adding graphics to your printed projects or mobile app.

An image that's in the public domain is 100 percent free, but that doesn't mean that it's of lesser quality than one you have to pay for. You can still find all kinds of top-notch pictures without hiring a professional photographer or paying for stock photos (which can get really expensive).

What Are Public Domain Images?

It's simple: they're images that are freely available for use, for commercial and private purposes. You don't have to worry about infringing on copyrights, attributing the source, asking for permission, or being charged for using the photos.

Some photos don't follow those rules exactly, but most do, and any caveats are explained below or on the website offering the pictures.

The websites below are your best options for finding images at the source, but you can also use Google.

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Public domain images at Pexels
What We Like
  • Range of image sizes.

  • Discover images without something specific in mind.

What We Don't Like
  • Needs category tags for images.

  • Searching is chaotic, relies on specific keywords.

Pexels offers hundreds of thousands of royalty-free images licensed under the Creative Common Zero license, which means the images are free for use on personal and commercial projects, blogs, websites, apps, and elsewhere.

Search by keyword or browse by collection, color, and more, including popular searches to see what people are downloading.

The Leaderboard page is another interesting way to browse because it shows which users uploaded the most popular images in the last 30 days.

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Public domain images at Unsplash
What We Like
  • Several collections and genres to explore.

  • Quick download button makes getting the images easier.

  • Download pages show view and download count, plus dimensions.

What We Don't Like
  • Asked to credit the author after every download.

Unsplash is another great place to get some of the best public domain images. You can search for images, browse categories like nature or travel, and easily find trending searches to see what other people are downloading.

We also like how you can view photos by topic. Current Events is an interesting image set, but there's also one for textures, 3D renders, health & wellness, interiors, and a lot more.

All images found here fall under the Unsplash License, which clearly states that each photo can be used for free for any reason; no permission or credit is required.

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Kaboompics most downloaded public domain images
What We Like
  • New photos are added daily.

  • Custom download size option.

  • Helpful and unique filtering and sorting options.

  • Use the images for any reason, no attribution required.

What We Don't Like
  • Strange layout that might take time to get used to.

  • Every picture opens in a new tab automatically.

Tens of thousands of additional public domain images are available through Kaboompics. You can browse through them by color, keyword, orientation, or category.

Some of the categories that separate these photos include interior, lifestyle, technology, people, urban, things, and home decor.

As you look through these pictures, you can use the download button to quickly grab them, or you can visit the photo's download page to get the original sized photo, a medium sized one, or a version with the width you choose.

There are also photoshoots listed here, which provide a series of similar images that would work great in a project that needs a consistent theme.

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Pixabay free photos
What We Like
  • Large collection of images.

  • You can donate to the creator.

  • Free images, regardless of download size.

What We Don't Like
  • Complaints about poor and rude customer service.

  • Complaints of arbitrary rejection of images.

  • Login required for full resolution.

  • Sponsored images mixed in.

Pixabay is home to more than two million royalty-free photos, illustrations, vector graphics, and even videos, music, and sound effects. The photos are stunning, high-resolution images that are free to use on any personal or commercial project. No attribution is necessary.

Explore helps you find the most popular images on the site, and can also point you in the direction of the Editor's Choice page to kick-start your creativity, and curated collections (e.g., lifestyle, wild animals, people from around the world, celebrating women).

The filters let you target your searches to pictures in a certain color, specific pixels, and/or orientation.

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Public Domain Pictures

latest public domain images at PublicDomainPictures.net
What We Like
  • Finding the top public domain images is easy.

  • There's an option to donate to the image creator.

  • Premium download fee for larger images isn't expensive.

What We Don't Like
  • Must watch for special conditions that govern image use.

  • Larger image sizes require a payment.

  • Lots of ads, some which look like free images.

  • Can't filter by orientation.

Public Domain Pictures has thousands of gorgeous photos and drawings. All images can be downloaded free but there's also a Premium Download option if you want a larger version (they're very reasonably priced).

Although all the photos are in the public domain, you'll occasionally see a note about a special use condition. For example, if a person or paid model appears in the photo, the condition may be that you can't use it in any way that depicts that person in a bad light or in a manner that the person might find offensive.

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Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons website
What We Like
  • Enormous catalog.

  • Familiar design and navigation, similar to Wikipedia.

  • RSS feed options to stay updated.

  • Super high-res images.

What We Don't Like
  • Confusing, multi-channel layout.

  • Some photos require attribution.

Wikimedia Commons is a gigantic repository of more than 80 million free media files, including public domain images and other content available in a wide variety of languages.

If the site has a downside, it has to be its vast size. If you're not sure where to start, take their recommendation and visit Featured Pictures, Quality Images, or Valued Images

Almost all of the content of the Commons is free to use. Some of it comes with restrictions that are explained on the same page as the image. The most common is that the original creator must be attributed.

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Public domain photos at Morguefile
What We Like
  • Established resource, popular with creative professionals.

  • Beautiful site design.

What We Don't Like
  • Some image URLs are served by ad domains, and blocked by ad blockers.

  • Must create a user account.

Morguefile is a high-quality source for public domain images you can use for commercial or personal purposes. The site tends to attract high-res photo submissions and has hundreds of thousands of free stock photos on file.

Remember these things while using Morguefile (according to their license):

  • Any of the free photos can be used for commercial purposes
  • You can make alterations to the images
  • If you don't alter the image, you must credit the photographer
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NYPL Digital Collections

Public domain images at New York Public Library Digital Collections
What We Like
  • Astounding selection of thematically arranged content.

  • Focus on archives, not on generic stock photography.

  • Outstanding site navigation and visual appeal.

What We Don't Like
  • Mix of free and license-required images.

  • Although the collection is gorgeous, it's likely too hyper-focused for general editorial usage.

  • Several dead links.

The New York Public Library has organized a huge collection of amazing public domain images and made them all available to the public. This collection of nearly 1 million items includes illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs, and more.

To get started, type something into the search box and then select the box next to Search only public domain materials. Or, browse the items featured on the home page, which include recently digitized items, updated collections, and various other categories such as fashion, nature, and maps.

Before downloading these public domain pictures, scroll to the bottom of the download page to see the Rights Statement section. Truly free images will mention that the New York Public Library considers it to be in the public domain and so it doesn't require a link back to the library.

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Flickr's Commons

Screenshot of Flickr's The Commons page
What We Like
  • Historical photographs, free for general use.

  • Partnership with many prestigious organizations.

  • Long-running, started in January 2008.

  • Usually several size options.

What We Don't Like
  • Weak search capability, with keyword searching only.

  • Images are returned in no coherent order; finding what you want may be difficult.

Access thousands of public photography images at the Commons, a joint project between Flickr and the Library of Congress. Dozens of institutions around the world participate in the Commons. 

Many of the photos are historical, and all are fascinating. They're categorized as having "no known copyright restrictions."

When you run a search, the results can be filtered by color, multiple orientations, minimum size, and date captured.

This program has two main objectives:

  • To increase access to publicly held photography collections
  • To provide a way for the general public to contribute information and knowledge

The Public Domain Flickr group is another place on this site to get public domain images.

Are the Images in the Wrong Format?

You can use an image file converter to save your public domain photo to a different file format. This is useful if the program you want to use the picture with will only accept a specific file type.

For example, if you download a JPG but you want a PNG, a file converter is what you need to make that change.

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