Searching for images on

Learn to search for images online that will enhance your educational content and protect you from a copyright lawsuit.

* In this article, all screenshots from

In many of your Learn Now videos, online courses, and presentations, you will use your own images or images from a Penn State colleague. Yet there will be times when, in order to enhance your educational content, you will need to search for images online.

Search for images with the “Attribution – BY” Creative Commons license (CC BY) and for images in the “Public Domain” (CC0) on a number of sites, such as:

*Tip: Refer to Copyright and Image Use for more information about permissions and Creative Commons licenses.

While each website has unique search features, learning how to use one will assist you in all your future searches.

So let’s look at steps for searching and using an image from Flickr:

  1. Go to Tip: You can create a free account on Flickr, and then “fave” images by clicking on the star to the lower right side of the image or below the image title and description. These images can then be accessed on your profile page under "Favorites." This is an efficient way to save and then later access images.
  2. In the upper right hand screen, click on the magnify glass. This will take you to the search page.
  3. In the search page, click on Advanced.  Search options include image size, orientation, photos and video, and most importantly licenses. Make sure you
  4. Under Any license, choose Commercial use & mods allowed. This option filters your search so only images with BY and SA licenses appear. Remember, do not use SA licenses; only use BY.
  5. In the upper right hand part of the screen, next to the magnify glass, put in your search words. Tip: Searching for images on flickr can be tricky, as each photographer decides what tags to use. An image for “cut trees” can bring me many results. I can be more specific and search for “lumber.” I also may try “tree harvest” and “thinned trees.” Be creative with your search words and combinations.
  6. When you find a potential image, click on it. Check the image quality. Make sure it looks crisp and clear.
  7. Check the licensing.  In the lower right-hand corner of the screen, look for the Creative Commons symbol. Check the link next to it – make sure it takes you to the license for CC BY.
  8. If the quality and license are correct, download the image. Choose a size greater than 900 pixels wide.
  9. Once downloaded, check your image again full-screen on your monitor. Make sure it is clear (not fuzzy or pixilated). Then try the image in your PPT or project. Make sure it enhances your content and makes sense to use.
  10. Record the image information in your project’s Image Records Spreadsheet
  11. Include an attribution. For flickr, the attribution is:  title/author/source/ CC license. If you are making a PPT for a video, the attribution goes on an image credit slide at the end of the PPT. For all other products, put the attribution below the image. Provide title, author and license links. See the examples below this image.

Flickr Screenshot

Attribution on image credit slide:
“Thinned Out Forest Stand” by Andy Arthur on CC BY 2.0

Attribution for other products (with links):
Thinned Out Forest Stand” by Andy Arthur on Licensed under CC BY 2.0

Congratulations! You can now use this image!

Flickr Screenshot

Contact Information

Rebecca Rumbel
  • Technical Communications Specialist
Phone: 814-863-2743