Finding OERs using search services

There are a number of search services that allow you quickly and easily find a wide range of open educational resources and open licensed content.


Google allows you to filter your search results in order to find Creative Commons licensed images.

To do this, go to Google Image search and enter your search term. Click the Tools option to bring up an additional menu bar that enables you to  filter your search results by size, colour, usage rights, type and time.


Select  ‘Usage rights’ to choose from a drop down menu with the following options:

  • Not filtered by license
  • Labeled for reuse with modification
  • Labeled for reuse
  • Labelled for noncommercial reuse with modification
  • Labeled for non-commercial reuse


Selecting “Labeled for reuse” will return all Creative Commons licensed images.

Note: Before reusing content, check the licence details on the source page and check the exact terms of reuse. For example, the licence might require that you give credit to the image creator when you use the image or have additional requests that Google is unable to pick up in a general search.

Reverse Image Search

You can use the Google Chrome browser to search for the source of an image. Right click the image and select “Search Google for image”. This should help you to find the original source of an image and any associated licence information.  There are a number of additional search services that will allow you to search for the source of an image, including Tin Eye Reverse Image Search.

Creative Commons Search

Creative Commons have their own CC Search service that allows you to search for open licensed and public domain images from a wide range of sources including Wikimedia Commons, Flickr, Smithsonian, Europeana, NASA, Rijksmuseum and more.

The service provides attribution and licence information to copy and share in three different formats.

There is also a CC Search browser extension for Chrome, Firefox and Opera which allows you to search for and filter CC licensed content.


Europeana allows you to cross search thousands of European archives, libraries and museums to find cultural heritage content of all kinds.  Europeana’s advanced search facility has a number of filters including “Can I use this?” which enables you to find public domain and open licensed content.

You can also use Europeana to find open licensed content from the University of Edinburgh’s collections, by filtering by Institution.