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Finding and Using Free-Use Online Content

Looking for free images, sound, music or video to use in your PowerPoint, e-Learning video or other digital projects? Curated here is a list of databases containing free content. Check the license terms before use.


Banner © National University of Singapore Libraries. Images used Courtesy of Pexels under a Pexels License.


Before use, double check the license.

 Check the applicable license terms of every single picture (especially if your purpose is commercial) to ensure you have the necessary permissions.

AI Image Generators

NUS Staff have access to Adobe Firefly through the Adobe Creative Cloud. 

Adobe Firefly uses generative AI to create images based on prompts. 

You may also view the Adobe Generative AI User Guidelines here.


These databases are a rich source of HD pictures:

Pexels is a free stock photo and video website and app that helps anyone who is looking for visuals to find great photos and videos  (source). Can be used for commercial purposes.

Most photos are released under a Pexels License (here), but some are covered by the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license (here). 

Thousands of high-quality, stock photos, cutout people, icons, stickers and more. 

Select Insert > Pictures > Stock Images

You will need to be a subscriber to Microsoft 365, either personally or through your institution. 

See terms and conditions of using Microsoft 365 royalty-free content here.

Also available via NUS Canvas LMS Rich Content Editor > Upload Image (instructions here).

Over 3 million high quality images made available under an unsplash license.

All photos can be downloaded and used for free for commercial or non-commercial purposes. 

Attribution is not required but appreciated.

Off-campus access via NUS VPN.

High quality images of NUS Campus and activities.

Use for non-commercial purposes and official NUS marketing and publicity purposes only. 

Over 1.8 million+ high quality stock images and videos! Can be used for commercial purposes.

No attribution required, but attribution is appreciated. Check the license terms here.

Over 5 million+ free photos for personal and commercial use. 

Freepik licensed materials are free for personal and commercial use with attribution. For more attribution guidance, click here.

‚ÄčTens of billions of photos. Community generated content - this is a photo sharing site. 

You can search for images by Creative Commons re-use licenses here. For more on Creative Commons, read this page or watch this video

There is no standard license that applies to all images. Check each image for the license terms.

Over 138,000 free high-resolution photos.They have submission guidelines to ensure quality. 

Free images are licensed under various Creative Commons licenses. Check each image for the license terms.

Check Stockvault terms of use here.

  • This is a curated list of the more frequented list of websites. CIT has a list of Stock Image websites too here

Vectors and Icons

These are good sources for free graphics like vectors and/or icons:

Database of open source emojis.

All emoji's are published under the Creative Commons Share Alike License 4.0 (CC BY SA 4.0)

License and attribution guidance here.

‚ÄčOver 3 Million vector icons.

Free for both personal and commercial use so long as attribution is provided. 

Attribution guidance here.

Freepik licensed materials are free for personal and commercial use with attribution. For more attribution guidance, click here.

Usage depends on specific license applied to each icon. For more attribution guidance, click here.


These databases are a rich source of digitized artwork:

Contains CC-Licensend digitized artwork from the Brooklyn Museum, Cleveland Music of Art, Digital Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museums Victoria, Rijksmuseum and Thorvladsens Museum. It also indexes images from other digital collections like DeviantArt and Flickr. Each photo is licensed differently so check before use. 


NGA Images is a repository of digital images of the collections of the National Gallery of Art in the USA. More than 51,000 open access digital images up to 4000 pixels each are available free of charge for download and use. NGA Images is designed to facilitate learning, enrichment, enjoyment, and exploration. (source)

Scientific Images

You can reuse in your own publication the 2D or 3D structure images presented on PubChem pages, without any special permission from PubChem.  Use the full record URL, followed by the section name suffix, "2D-Structure" or "3D-Conformer". (source)

Example: 2D structure image of CID 2244 (aspirin):


Input "chemical structure" followed by the name of the compound e.g. "biotin". 

Each chemical structure has different copyright status and use conditions:

  • This image of Benzo-a-pyrene is in the public domain
  • While this image of Toluene is licensed under a Creative Commons license