PowerPoint clipart is back: Part 1

Some time back, the familiar Insert – Clipart option stopped working. Now, PowerPoint clipart is back with a bang. Choose Insert – Online Pictures. These options are available as of today.  Just choose a source,  search and add images to the slide.

PowerPoint clipart options

Which option to choose when? Which source is good for what?

PowerPoint clipart options

I am using the word “clipart” for simplicity. Now it is called Online Pictures, even though some of the content may look like earlier clipart. What is usually not available is the vector based clipart we were used to many years ago. Why are those removed? Because as per current graphic design principles, the older clipart looks outdated and not very visually appealing.

Another reason is that we have much better bandwidth and storage. Therefore,  the size of the illustration is no longer a major issue. The older clipart was made up of vector drawings and therefore had very small file sizes.

You type the keyword first and then search. Even if you change the source, the keyword remains the same.

A picture is usually more expressive than a clipart item.

PowerPoint clipart example - legacy          PowerPoint clipart - example - Book image

Don’t waste time.

There are millions (billions, actually) of searchable images. It is humanly impossible to choose the perfect one with 100% confidence. While you are searching, millions of images are being added!

Therefore, do not even attempt to find the best image. As long as the image illustrates the key thought, live with it. Do not waste time.

Also remember that once inserted, the image can be manipulated in many different ways to make it more pertinent to the current context. These methods include Remove Background, Cropping, Artistic effects, Color correction and so on.

Bing image search

It has been around for quite some time. It searches for images Creative Commons license by default. The licensing and usage criteria for free usage change for each picture. The owner may allow usage of the image but can control whether you can modify it and whether you must specify the name of the source (attribution).  We will discuss this in a separate article.

In the recent update of Office 365 Pro Plus, PowerPoint automatically adds a textbox below the image which contains the right kind of attribution. Trust me, this may sound like a small benefit, but it saves you lot of manual work.

PowerPoint clipart - with attribution

This is an image of the PowerPoint clipart objects. The hyperlinks will not work. Here is the textbox equivalent along with the hyperlinks shown above.
This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA

Bing also provides various types of filters. For example, you can filter the search using types of illustrations: Photos, Clipart, Line Drawing, Animated GIF or Transparent.

Make sure you use all appropriate filters to search in a more precise manner. This way you find the best fit faster.

Getty and Shutterstock

These are famous sites for stock pictures. Both work well. There is no watermark.  All images are free to use. Check the exact license terms in case you want to use the presentation content for commercial purposes.

Remember that stock photo sites offer premium, high-res images. These are free versions. Therefore, the resolution is, obviously, limited to 96 DPI – which is good enough for presenting using projectors or viewing online. This resolution will not produce good results on HD/ 4K screens or printers.

Getty has more exclusive content compared to Shutterstock.

The thumbnails require time to download. Have patience. If you select an image while things are still downloading, Insert button will remain inactive. Do not worry.
Wait till a scroll bar appears on the right side, then start selecting items.

PowerPoint clipart - Shutterstock search page

Getty is considered a premium collection whereas Shutterstock caters to micro stock (cheaper). The licensing models are also different. From PowerPoint perspective, I have noticed that Getty searches are predominantly photos whereas Shutterstock also has graphic designs and vector like drawings.

eLearning Brothers

These are images and clipart designed for creating eLearning content. There are many categories available. But the one which deserves a special mention is called Cutout People.

PowerPoint clipart - Cutout People

There are lots of people in each category and subcategory. For each person, there are lots of poses. The collection is much more  than you would expect. Try it out.

Cutout people - 50+ poses

Cutout people have a transparent background. You do not need to choose Remove Background option in PowerPoint to remove unwanted areas from the picture. Transparent background allows you to use the photos in front of any background quickly.

Using cutout people image on different background - nurse in operation theatre Two people in a hospital room - nurse and patient


Already a long post. We will continue understanding PowerPoint clipart options in the second part of this article.

end of article ornamental illustration

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

2 Responses

  1. Hello~ I can’t find an answer to this anywhere or maybe I don’t know what to search for. In the latest editions of PowerPoint, one thing that is hugely annoying (and inefficient) is the lack of a side panel that pops up to insert a picture (clipart side bar in the past). This means users must choose a picture before going back to the slide – not simultaneous access like before. The pop up closes immediately. If you want to choose or add another picture, you have to go through the whole thing again!! (click insert, picture, search, etc.) This is such a waste of time. The strange thing is that on my sister’s iMac PowerPoint app, they have the side panel for inserting pictures but not on Windows!

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