Finding Images for Your PowerPoint Presentations

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By Bronwen

The right picture can really make your PowerPoint presentation pop. Not only can it help you illustrate your point—it can also help you connect with the audience, and maybe even stir an emotional response.


(Who wants to go to Hawaii now?)

What’s the best place to find free, high-quality images like the photo above? There are lots of great resources, both on the web and in PowerPoint itself. These resources make it possible to create vibrant, professional-looking presentations, even if you aren’t an experienced graphic designer.

Below are some of our favorite sources for stock photos and other free graphics.

Happy image hunting!

Microsoft Clip Art


Believe it or not, one of the best resources for high-quality images is Microsoft’s clip art collection. Clip art has come a long way since the early days of Microsoft Office—it now includes thousands of professional stock photos, illustrations, background images, and more.

You can access Microsoft clip art from within PowerPoint, or you can browse the collection at offers a few extra features to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. One of my favorites is the media type filter, which lets you narrow down your search results to a certain type of image (for example, photos only). You can find the media type filter on the left-hand side of the search results page.




Stock.XCHNG is one of the largest resources for free stock photos and graphics. The images are all provided by photographers and designers who’ve chosen to share their work for free, instead of licensing it through a stock photo site (which is very, very generous of them!).

To use Stock.XCHNG, all you have to do is create a free account, and you can download as many images as you want. However, some artists ask that you notify them before you use their work, or give them credit when using it publicly. You can learn more about these usage rights on the download page for each image. Just remember to use common sense, be respectful of the artist’s wishes, and you should have no problem finding great pictures for your presentations.

Google Images


The truth is, there are tons of free image sites on the web—it would take forever to list them all, let alone visit them when you’re searching for the perfect picture. That’s where Google Images can come in handy.

One feature we don’t discuss in the post is how to filter your search results based on the images’ usage rights—a great way to find stock photos and other free graphics. It’s easy, but the feature is a little hard to find. Here’s how you do it.

  1. Conduct an image search.
  2. Click the gear icon on the far right of the results page, then choose Advanced Search.
  3. Look for the usage rights field, and make a selection from the menu (for example, free to use or share).
  4. Click the Advanced Search button to continue.
  5. Now an option will appear under Search Tools, where you can adjust or turn off the filter as you continue your search. Don’t forget that you can filter by size, color, and image type too!

Of course, PowerPoint isn’t the only place where you can use these images. You can also use them in documents, blog posts, photo projects—even as your desktop background. The possibilities are almost endless.

Do you know any other free image sites that you would recommend to fellow users? Let us know in the comments.

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