Best Adobe Stock alternatives in 2023

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Graphic design
(Image credit: McLittle Stock / Shutterstock)

Finding the best Adobe Stock alternatives is vital for anyone who needs high-quality, high-resolution royalty-free images, videos, graphics, illustrations, and audio assets. 

Available through a Creative Cloud subscription and backed by one of the best photo cloud storage platforms, Adobe Stock offers one of the most comprehensive asset libraries for designers, content creators, marketing teams, and SMBs. 

If you’re already deep in the Adobe ecosystem, you may not have even considered using any other stock media site - let alone the best Adobe Stock alternatives out there. 

But beginners, small businesses, and creatives on a budget looking for low-cost or free stock photo sites will find plenty of top alternatives to Adobe Stock without compromising on the volume of assets.

To help you find the right site for your designs, we’ve tested the best Adobe Stock alternatives. We outline the highlights, lowlights, top features, and how each one compares to Adobe’s stock media library.


Breaking free of Adobe? We've reviewed the best Adobe Photoshop alternatives, the best Adobe Lightroom alternatives, and the best Adobe InDesign alternatives, too. 

Corel Stock Photos

Corel has over 7,000 stock assets as part of its Graphics Suite (Image credit: Corel)
Sophisticated graphics suite with thousands of stock assets

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

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High annual cost
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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

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iStock

iStock is provided by Getty Images (Image credit: Getty Images)

2. iStock

Credit packs offer a no-commitment approach

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

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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.

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Shutterstock

Shutterstock offers multiple ways of paying for images (Image credit: Shutterstock)

3. Shutterstock

Curated collections bolster a strong search function

Reasons to buy

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Topical collections
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Music included
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Good support

Reasons to avoid

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 More expensive than competitors

Like iStock, Shutterstock offers two means of paying for the stock photos you wish to use. If committing to an annual subscription (paid monthly), its entry package offers 10 images per month, rising to 750 images a month with the premium subscription. Alternatively, users might prefer its on-demand options, which ranges between five images a month to 25 images a month.

Given that Shutterstock has over 360 million images to choose from, the asset library alone makes it a worthy contender for the title of best Adobe Stock alternative. 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 around Women's Month. There are also many royalty-free musical choices, handy for podcasts or documentary soundtracks.

Support options are robust, with a swift-reply live chat channel, along with the option to call the Shutterstock team, or email for a guaranteed response within 24 hours.

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Unsplash

Users have downloaded over two billion images from Unsplash (Image credit: Unsplash)

4. Unsplash

Completely free and royalty-free images

Reasons to buy

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Completely free options
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Creative imagery

Reasons to avoid

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Lack of traditional stock imagery
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Uncertain future following Getty purchase

While it may be owned by Getty Images, Unsplash is a standalone site of user-generated stock photos, most of which can be used for personal and professional use.  

With over two billion images downloaded since the site's launch in 2013, the popular free stock image 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.

Although the 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.

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Pixabay

Pixabay provides video and music for free as well as photography (Image credit: Pixabay)

5. Pixabay

Images can be used for commercial purposes

Reasons to buy

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Completely free
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Over two million photos

Reasons to avoid

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Editorial-style images in short supply
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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.

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How to choose the best Adobe Stock alternatives

Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

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 like 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. 

See how we test, review, and rate on TechRadar.  

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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