10 Best Websites for Public Domain Images

High-res public domain photos that are 100% free

Old pictures spread around a table

 Joanna Kosinska / unspalsh

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 find all kinds of top-notch pictures on these public domain image sites without hiring a professional photographer or paying for stock photos (which can get really expensive).

What Are Public Domain Images?

Public domain pictures are images that are freely available for use, meaning that you can use them 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 public domain images at the source, but you can also use Google.

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Pexels

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 explore the public domain images to browse by category or to find the most popular photos and searches on Pexels.

The Leaderboard page is another interesting way to browse public domain photos at Pexels because it shows which images have been most viewed in the last 30 days.

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Unsplash

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 the most popular searches on the site to see what other users are downloading.

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, and you can edit or distribute the images however you wish.

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WPClipart

Public domain clip art at WPClipart

What We Like

  • Over 80,000 images available.

  • All images are free with no conditions on use.

  • Some images can be saved in multiple formats.

  • Ad-free website.

What We Don't Like

  • Unattractive, but straightforward website.

  • As a hobby project, its long-term development isn't assured.

If you need public domain clip art for a project, you'll probably be able to find it at WPClipart. This is a repository of more than 80,000 free, high-quality, clip art images and photos.

The interface is simple: enter a term in the search bar or use the Browse button to see all the public domain clip art categories.

When you're ready to download any of these pictures, you might be offered more than one image file format, such as PNG (regular or transparent), JPG, WebP, or SVG.

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Kaboompics

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 some time to get used to.

  • Every picture opens in a new tab automatically.

More 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 public domain photos include interior, lifestyle, technology, people, urban, home decor, and things.

As you look through these free public domain 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.

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Pixabay

Popular public domain images at Pixabay

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.

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

Browse by category (e.g., education, animals, sports, people, food/drink, emotions), enter a topic in the search field, or use Explore to find popular public domain images. There's also a list of the current Editor's Choice images to kick-start your creativity. 

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Public Domain Pictures

Top 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.

Public Domain Pictures has thousands of gorgeous photos and drawings. All images can be downloaded free—usually as a 1920x1275 image—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 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 50 million free media files, including public domain images and other media 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 restriction is that the original creator must be attributed.

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Morguefile

Public domain photos at Morguefile

What We Like

  • Established resource, popular with creative professionals.

  • Beautiful site design.

What We Don't Like

  • Not always clear what's free and what's not.

  • Some image URLs are served by ad domains, and blocked by ad blockers.

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

Morguefile also hosts paid images, so be sure you're on the Free Photos page to see only the free public domain photos.

Remember these things while using Morguefile:

  • 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 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. 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

The Commons from Flickr

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."

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.