PowerPoint Stock Images (2023 Guide)

By Matic Broz, editor-in-chief of Photutorial covering stock media, Adobe, and design. He founded Photutorial while finishing his PhD in computational biosciences.
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Powerpoint Stock Images Featured Image

In May 2020, Microsoft added a potentially useful feature to PowerPoint—stock images. This feature alone could save you tons of money that you would have to spend on stock photos. However, I was disappointed after using it for a while and diving deep into Microsoft’s documentation.

So, does PowerPoint have stock images? Yes, PowerPoint has a built-in stock photo collection of unknown size. It’s based on Bing’s image search, which pulls stock images from the web and makes them available to PowerPoint users at no cost.

You can browse the PowerPoint images using keywords, license, and content (color, layout, size). Additionally, you can browse by type, including using photographs, clipart, line drawings, and transparent images.

» Also: Best places to get a stock photo license

How to get stock images in PowerPoint?

Follow these easy steps to get stock images in PowerPoint:

  1. Open Microsoft PowerPoint.
  2. Create a presentation.
  3. In the quick access toolbar, click “Insert”.
  4. Choose “Pictures” > “Online Pictures…”.
    How Do I Get Stock Images on PowerPoint

    This will open Bing’s image search window.

  5. Find your images.
  6. Click “Insert” when you want to use it.
  7. Make sure you’re using it legally.

If you have your own stock images:

  1. Open Microsoft PowerPoint.
  2. Create a presentation.
  3. In the menu, click “Insert”.
  4. Choose “Pictures” > “This Device…”.
    This will open your computer’s folder.
  5. Locate your images.
  6. Click “Open”.

PowerPoint stock images license

According to the Microsoft Agent, Sukie Qi, MSFT, you “can search and insert high quality professional stock imagery from places like Getty and iStock in Stock images, there is no cost to you.”

However, PowerPoint does not disclose where it gets the images from or how they are licensed. My best guess is that they simply don’t know, so the fate of your legal safety depends on Bing’s algorithm. Or, as Microsoft’s agent put it, “generally, you can trust that they are being accurate.”

Source: Answers.Microsoft, Microsoft

Are PowerPoint stock images copyrighted?

Not every stock image is protected by copyright since copyrights protect them only for a limited period of time. That’s when it gets into the public domain, and you may use it freely without permission. However, since PowerPoint doesn’t tell you (for sure) how the image is licensed, you never know. You can search for images by selecting “Creative Commons only,” but the accuracy of this filter is questionable.

How to cite stock images from Powerpoint?

It’s good practice always to cite photos, illustrations, or other visual content that isn’t yours. But if you use a stock photo or image in your PowerPoint presentation, do you need to cite it? The short answer is almost always yes. Even though stock photos are readily available for use, they are still considered intellectual property and require attribution in APA style.

When to cite stock images in PowerPoint

You need to cite stock photos or images every time you use one in a PowerPoint presentation. The only exception is if the image is completely decorative and does not portray meaningful content or creative expression. For example, you may not need to cite a basic background texture or geometric shape.

But any stock image that conveys real-world content or creative style must be cited, such as:

  • Photographs of people, animals, objects, or places
  • Illustrations or clipart
  • Graphs, charts, or diagrams

Here’s how to cite stock images in Powerpoint in various formats:

  • APA (7th edition): Jones, A. (2019). Group of people in a meeting [Photograph]. In PowerPoint Presentation. URL (if available)
  • MLA (8th edition): Jones, Andrew. “Group of people in a meeting.” PowerPoint, 2019.
  • Chicago (17th edition): Jones, Andrew. 2019. “Group of People in a Meeting.” Photograph. In PowerPoint Presentation. URL (if available)
  • Harvard: Jones, A. (2019) ‘Group of people in a meeting’, in PowerPoint Presentation. Available at: URL (if available)
  • IEEE: A. Jones, “Group of people in a meeting,” in PowerPoint Presentation, 2019. [Online]. Available: URL (if available)
  • Vancouver: Jones A. Group of people in a meeting [image on the Internet]. In: PowerPoint Presentation; 2019. Available from: URL (if available)

Tips for citing stock images

  • Look for identifying information near the image on the source website, such as attribution to the artist or copyright holder. This usually appears in small print or captions below the image.
  • If the image is licensed through a subscription service like Shutterstock or Getty Images, you can find the required citation information in your account.
  • If no attribution is provided, describe the image content in square brackets to identify it, e.g. [People walking in city].

By properly citing all PowerPoint stock photos and images, you give credit to the owners and demonstrate academic integrity. Following APA guidelines helps make your presentations more credible, professional and ethical.

Should you use PowerPoint stock images?

I discourage you to use PowerPoint stock images because you never know if you’re infringing any copyrights since Microsoft doesn’t disclose the source, author, or license. You can do a reverse image search using Google to find the source, but that results in extra work for you.

How to Safely Use PowerPoint Images?

The best way to use stock images in PowerPoint is either by using your own photos or paying for royalty-free photos. This way, you’ll have the right to use the image, otherwise, you can get into trouble.

I recommend using reliable and vetted stock photo sites with a good selection of stock images for low prices:

1. Adobe Stock

For a variety of reasons, Adobe Stock is the best value stock image subscription. To begin, you can select from six different subscription plans–three monthly and three annual plans with 10, 25, 40, and 750 monthly downloads. Standard images, templates, audio, vectors, and even videos are included in the subscriptions, but not premium images. Every subscription plan also includes Creative Cloud integration, which allows you to view the entire image library directly in Adobe apps. Finally, the free trial includes 10, 25, or 40 free downloads.

2. Shutterstock

Shutterstock is the largest and most popular stock photo agency in the world. According to research, however, Shutterstock is losing popularity to Adobe Stock. Regardless, with over 400 million stock images and other assets, Shutterstock remains a popular choice. Unlike Adobe, Shutterstock does not include any extra features with its subscription plans.

3. iStock

iStock isn’t the cheapest by default, but with coupons, you can get up to a 30 percent discount, giving you the lowest prices in the industry. In all honesty, some subscriptions are roughly the same price (Dreamstime, StockPhotoSecrets, Bigstock), but I don’t recommend them. With subscription plans, iStock offers both standard (“Essentials”) and premium (“Signature”) images, resulting in a lower price per image.


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