The best Adobe Stock alternative in 2023: top royalty-free content choices

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(Image credit: McLittle Stock / Shutterstock)

1. Best overall
2. Best for graphics
3. Best commitment-free
4. Best free
5. Best commercial-use
6. How to choose
7. How we test
8. Today's deals

If you want to find the best Adobe Stock alternative for digital design and content creation, you have many more options than you might think. 

While Adobe Stock is definitely a well-known player with an extensive library of royalty-free images, videos, graphics, and audio, it's not the only option. There are numerous options that cater to a wide range of needs, from the best free stock photo sites to platforms offering the best cloud storage and best photo storage and sharing sites.

We have diligently tested various platforms, considering factors like user interface, experience, value for money, and the size of the stock media libraries. This comprehensive approach ensures that you get a clear picture of each alternative, including their highlights, lowlights, top features, and how they stack up against Adobe's offering.

So with all of the available options, we're here to assist you in finding the best Adobe Stock alternative that not only meets your asset needs but also enhances your overall creative process whatever your budget.

The best Adobe Stock alternative in 2023

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Below you'll find full write-ups for each of the entries on our best Adobe Stock alternative list. We've tested each one extensively, so you can be sure that our recommendations can be trusted.

The best Adobe Stock alternative overall

Website screenshot for Shutterstock

Shutterstock offers multiple ways of paying for images (Image credit: Shutterstock)
Best Adobe Stock alternative overall

Reasons to buy

Topical collections
Music included
Good support
Content marketing tools

Reasons to avoid

 More expensive than competitors
May initially overwhelm

Shutterstock has long been a favored stock image and video site - and its vast library makes it one of the best alternatives to Adobe Stock. 

Boasting over 360 million images means it may overwhelm at first. But the curated collections are a useful tool for finding images relating to a specific theme or event.  Collections include videos on a broad range of topics, from dozens of images titled An Ode to Spring to themed collections. There are also many royalty-free musical choices, handy when you’re making podcasts, for example, or creating a video project. 

Beyond the stock media, the platform has also added additional tools for content marketers, including a content planner and graphic design tool Creative Flow - similar to Canva and Adobe Express. So, it’s fast becoming a one-stop shop for content creators. 

The stock photography site offers several different pricing plans. Casual users can license individual photos, while regular users can opt for the all-in-one subscription - like Adobe Creative Cloud, this can be paid monthly, annually, or on the contract-style annual billed monthly plan. Elsewhere, the Teams and Enterprise plans offer extensive downloads for commercial use.

Read our full Shutterstock review.

The best Adobe Stock alternative for graphics

Website screenshot for Corel Stock Photos

Corel has over 7,000 stock assets as part of its Graphics Suite (Image credit: Corel)
Best Adobe Stock alternative graphic design software

Reasons to buy

Part of sophisticated graphic design suite
Over 1,000 digital photos
Professionally designed templates

Reasons to avoid

High annual cost
Design tools may be unnecessary 

For users requiring not just a bank of stock assets but also a sophisticated graphic design suite to rival Adobe’s, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite provides stiff competition. Available to try free of charge for 15 days (after which you’ll pay for a single annual license), this professional design software includes CorelDRAW, Corel Photo-Paint, and Corel Font Manager. It is available for both Windows and Mac, with additional web and iPad applications also on offer. 

Whether wanting to use it for photo editing, graphics, illustration, or web design, users are granted access to a database of royalty-free images that can be used for any project. This includes over 7,000 clipart files, digital images, and even car wrap designs, as well as over 1,000 high-resolution digital photos. For ideas and inspiration, the suite also comes with 150 professionally designed templates.

Read our full CorelDRAW review.

The best no-commitment Adobe Stock alternative

Website screenshot for iStock

iStock is provided by Getty Images (Image credit: Getty Images)
Best alternative to Adobe Stock for the no-commitment approach

Reasons to buy

Getty is a trusted photography source
Credit packs require no commitment
Access to millions of photos and videos

Reasons to avoid

Limited free options

Getty Images is a titan of the photography industry, boasting some of the world's best photographers and videographers and servicing thousands of the biggest media organizations on the planet. iStock is Getty's foray into royalty-free stock imagery, and as one would expect the service boasts millions of assets including photos, illustrations, and 4K videos.

Given its wealth of content, assets are categorized (themes include nature and landscapes, jobs and careers, and healthcare and medicine) and the search function offers in-depth filtering options to help you locate the best photo for your requirements.

The pricing structure is impressively flexible, making it one of the best Adobe Stock alternatives when it comes to payment. Users are given the option of monthly or annual subscription plans, or a selection of credit packs that require no commitment. 

For example, buying 36 credits will grant a user access to download 36 images, or six videos, or a mix of both. Given its daily-updated bank of contemporary photos from a wealth of photographers around the world, iStock is particularly useful to those needing editorial imagery for news and media.

Read our full iStock review.

The best free Adobe Stock alternative

Website screenshot for Unsplash

Users have downloaded over two billion images from Unsplash (Image credit: Unsplash)
Best free Adobe Stock alternative for royalty-free photos

Reasons to buy

Free online service
Millions of photos to choose from
High quality downloads
New optional subscription service

Reasons to avoid

Photographers may not benefit from much remuneration
Anyone can use the same photos

Unsplash is one of the best Adobe Stock alternatives for royalty-free images for personal and commercial use. 

With over two billion images downloaded since the site's launch in 2013, the popular free stock photo site lets you browse and download any of its more than two million high-resolution images, freely donated by a generous community of photographers from all over the world. And if you're a professional photographer, it's a good space to showcase your work.

Images can be used thanks to a license that grants both commercial and non-commercial use, with no permissions or attributes required. Nonetheless, it’s good practice to credit the photographer for their work if you can. However, that's arguably one of the biggest issues for the site: photographers and creators may not get much remuneration for their uploads, although the newly launched Unsplash+ helps here, with access to exclusive assets and better protections for contributors. 

While the platform's stock photos tend to skew more towards the creative and spectacular rather than practical shots one might usually attribute to stock imagery, the increase in commercial contributors like Mailchimp has meant a rise in images with a business flavor.

Read our full Unsplash review.

The best Adobe Stock alternative for commercial use

Website screenshot for Pixabay

Pixabay provides video and music for free as well as photography (Image credit: Pixabay)
Best Adobe Stock alternative for commercial use

Reasons to buy

Completely free
Over two million photos

Reasons to avoid

Editorial-style images in short supply
iStock adverts

All Pixabay images are available under its own license, which allows users to download any image for free and use it across print and digital, for both commercial and non-commercial reasons. This includes making modifications to the images. Selling unaltered copies or redistributing images on other stock platforms is, however, forbidden.

There are over two million stock images, videos, and music on Pixabay. Though, like Unsplash, you're more likely to have joy searching for creative photography rather than editorial or news-focused images. 

With that in mind, users looking for a picture of politicians or sports stars, for example, may find they're gently nudged towards the iStock-sponsored photos which also appear in searches.

Read our full Pixabay review.

How to choose the best Adobe Stock alternative

When deciding which Adobe Stock alternative is best for you, start by identifying what you like and don’t like about Adobe’s offering. While the platform offers an extensive media library, it’s locked behind a subscription that may not fit your workflow - especially if you don’t already use Adobe products such as Photoshop, Lightroom, and InDesign

Consider your budget and ideal payment plan. While some of the best alternatives to Adobe Stock offer similar subscription services and pay-as-you-go plans, there are plenty of free options on the market. And, in the case of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, it’s a one-off payment for a lifetime license. 

Estimate how many stock assets you’ll need on a regular basis. If you and your team are power-users, it’s best to opt for a platform with libraries comparable to Adobe Stock - especially if you need stock media across images, videos, graphics, and more. 

How we test the best Adobe Stock alternatives

When testing the best Adobe Stock alternatives, we’re looking at how each individual platform compares with Adobe’s top asset library. So, not only are we looking for a comprehensive selection of stock media from high-quality photos, videos, illustrations, and more. We’re also assessing how easy it is to navigate the site, find suitable media, and download them. 

As part of our testing, we also check usage and attribution rights. With most Adobe Stock users creating content for businesses, being able to secure commercial and non-commercial rights is critical. 

Where stock asset libraries are billed as free, we check that there are no hidden charges or surprise subscriptions. Any premium upgrades and payments must be clearly signposted for users. 

Today's best deals

Reader Offer: Free trial with code TRYFLEX10

Reader Offer: Free trial with code TRYFLEX10
Techradar editors praise Shutterstock's vast library, curated collections, content marketer tools, and variety of pricing plans. Start today with a free trial - use code TRYFLEX10.

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Alexis James

Alexis is a freelance writer and journalist from the north east of England. His love for creative technology stems from the day he was gifted his first ever digital voice recorder (a beloved Olympus WS 110), which brought with it the wonderful realisation that he'd never again have to rely on his iffy shorthand…

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