Download Adobe Stock for free: totally legal and no strings attached

Selection of photos of black women in natural surroundings
(Image credit: Adobe)

Anyone who's been around the block a few times will be rightly suspicious of the word 'free'. But in this case, there's no catch: you really can get high quality images and videos from Adobe Stock (number one on our list of the best stock photo sites) without paying a penny.

We're all struggling to keep our costs down right now, both at a personal and organisational level. So how, exactly, can you download Adobe Stock for free, in a way that's entirely legal and supported by Adobe? Well, actually there are TWO ways. Read on, and we'll explain how to take advantage of both of them.

Other Adobe downloads

Download Photoshop (opens in new tab)
Download Premiere Pro (opens in new tab)
Download Adobe Creative Cloud Express (opens in new tab)
Download After Effects (opens in new tab)
Download Adobe Audition (opens in new tab)
Download Lightroom (opens in new tab)

If you're not sure what Adobe Stock is, or how it works, you may first want to jump ahead to our section Adobe Stock explained. Otherwise, read on to discover the two best ways to download Adobe Stock assets for free, legitimately and without much effort at all.

Note that you don't need a Creative Cloud subscription to edit, manage or share your photos either. So if your budget's tight right now, make sure you check out our guide to the best free photo editors.

Download Adobe Stock for free: method 1

Although most of Adobe Stock's assets need to be paid for, there are more than half a MILLION Adobe Stock files available for anyone to download for free. And we do mean free. You don't need to give any credit card details to access them, nor take out a subscription to either Adobe Stock or the Creative Cloud.

Okay, you will need to create an Adobe ID (opens in new tab), if you haven't already. But that won't cost you anything, and you won't have to give Adobe any details other than your email address. Plus it's useful for using a lot of other free Adobe services, so it's worth doing anyway.

(Image credit: Adobe)

Once you've done that, you'll be able to access a variety of free assets to download from (opens in new tab)

At time of writing, Adobe was listing 550,543 free photos and 245,608 free vectors here, so you should be able to find something suitable. You'll also find lots of videos, design templates, 3D assets, and motion graphics templates, including work by recipients of Adobe Stock's Artist Development Fund. 

You can browse these free Adobe Stock files by category or topic. All of these free images are cleared for commercial use, and are royalty-free. 

How to download Adobe Stock for free: method 2

Another way to download Adobe Stock assets for free is to take out a free 30-day trial to Adobe Stock, which lets you download up to 10 Standard assets for free. 

What we mean by 'Standard assets' here is quite specific. That's because Adobe Stock divides its assets into 'Standard' and 'Premium'. The latter are, as the name suggests, higher in quality than the former, but there are plenty of great Standard files that are worth downloading too.

Free trial offer on Adobe Stock website

(Image credit: Adobe)
(opens in new tab)

To begin your trial, visit (opens in new tab) and click the button that reads 'Start Free trial'. You’ll need an Adobe ID to start your trial, and you'll need to supply credit card details. However, as long as you cancel your subscription before the end of the trial, you won't be charged. 

If you do, you'll still get to keep the 10 free Adobe Stock assets you've chosen. Alternatively, if you want to keep your subscription, just do nothing and you'll be charged automatically from the second month onwards.

Get 10 free images with a free trial of Adobe Stock (opens in new tab)

Get 10 free images with a free trial of Adobe Stock (opens in new tab) Take out a 30-day free trial of Adobe Stock, and receive 10 Adobe Stock standard assets for free. If you wish to end your subscription, you can cancel risk-free at any time during the trial period.

Adobe Stock explained

What is Adobe Stock?

Adobe Stock is one of the world's biggest image libraries, providing more than 200 million files in total. These include stock photographs, video clips, animations, illustrators, icons, templates, 3D models, audio clips, and other assets for you to license, royalty-free. 

You don't have to have a Creative Cloud subscription or use any Adobe apps to use Adobe Stock. You just need to sign up with a free Adobe ID.

How is Adobe Stock different?

In many ways, Adobe Stock is similar to other large stock image libraries such as iStock, Getty and Shutterstock. However, probably the biggest difference is the way that Adobe Stock is cleverly integrated into the Creative Cloud software suite as a whole. This means that if you're, say, working in Photoshop, you don't have to leave the app to search for a stock image, try out a watermarked version and then buy it: you can do all this within Photoshop. 

Where can I search for Adobe Stock assets?

You can find Adobe Stock assets in multiple places. The most obvious is the main website, (opens in new tab). But you can also search for Adobe Stock assets from within the Creative Cloud home webpage (opens in new tab) and directly within Creative Cloud apps like Photoshop and Premiere Pro. If you find something you like, you can import a watermarked version into the app and try it out before deciding to buy. 

How much does Adobe Stock cost?

Adobe Stock assets can be bought directly from within Creative Cloud desktop apps such as Photoshop and Illustrator, or via the website (opens in new tab). However, you can't just pay for a single asset, you have to pay for a bunch of them at once. There are two methods of doing so.

Option 1 is to buy a credit pack. These allow you to download packs of five, 16, 40, 80 or 150 credits. The bigger the pack, the cheaper each credit gets. 

So for example, the cheapest package gets you five credits for $49.95 / £29.95 / AU$54.95, which works out as $9.99 / £5.99 / AU$10.99 each, while the most expensive pack gets you 150 credits for $1,200 / £600 / AU$1,308.99, which means you're paying just $8 / £4 / AU$8.72 each

Just to make things a little more complicated, different assets cost a different number of credits. So you can buy standard images and templates for just one credit, whereas videos cost between 8 and 12 credits each, and premium images start at 12 credits each.

You'll find all the pricing information for your region here (opens in new tab).

Option 2 is to take out an annual or monthly subscription. Annual plans are the most economical, allowing you to download 10 assets for $29.99 / £19.99 / AU$39.95 per month; 40 assets for $79.99 / £47.99 / AU$109.99 per month; or 750 assets for $199.99 / £119.99 / AU$263.99 per month. 

Global:  Subscribe to Adobe Stock $29.99/month (opens in new tab)

Global: Subscribe to Adobe Stock $29.99/month (opens in new tab)
Subscribe to Adobe Stock for £19.99/month (opens in new tab)
Subscribe to Adobe Stock AU$39.95/month (opens in new tab) With a subscription to Adobe Stock, you can download from 10 files a month for use in your projects. Choose from over 200 million high quality assets by pro creators. Click the link above, or the View Deal button.

Is Adobe Stock part of the Creative Cloud?

An Adobe Stock subscription is NOT included in the Creative Cloud All-Apps subscription, which has to be paid for separately. However, it's still worth subscribing to the Creative Cloud, because Adobe Stock is so beautifully and seamlessly integrated into a range of Adobe apps. 

With a Creative Cloud subscription, for instance, you'll be able to import Adobe Stock assets quickly and easily into apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Premiere Pro and more, without ever having to leave the interface. 

That's a fantastic productivity boost. Plus, because you can trial Adobe Stock assets in your designs before buying them, it will probably save you a lot of money over time too.

Get an all-Apps Creative Cloud subscription:  $54.99 per month (US) / £51.98 per month (UK) / AU$79.99 per month (Aus) (opens in new tab)

Get an all-Apps Creative Cloud subscription: $54.99 per month (US) / £51.98 per month (UK) / AU$79.99 per month (Aus) (opens in new tab) Get the best use out of Adobe Stock by taking out an All Apps subscription to the Creative Cloud. When you're working in apps like Photoshop and Illustrator, you'll be able to import and try out Adobe Stock assets without ever leaving the interface. 

Can students get a discount on Adobe Stock?

No, there's no educational discount on Adobe Stock. However, if you’re a student, teacher or anyone working in education, then you can get a big discount on an All Apps Creative Cloud plan. 

This means the price of the Creative Cloud plummets just $19.99 / £16.24 / AU$21.99 per month for the first year, and then (if you decide to continue) $29.99 / £24.96 / AU$43.99 the following year. 

Educational discount: Get After Effects as part of an all-Apps Adobe Creative Cloud subscription (first year only):  $19.99 per month (US) (opens in new tab)

Educational discount: Get After Effects as part of an all-Apps Adobe Creative Cloud subscription (first year only): $19.99 per month (US) (opens in new tab)£16.24 per month (UK) (opens in new tab) /  AU$21.99 per month (Aus) (opens in new tab) Students, teachers and anyone else working in education can get an Creative Cloud All Apps subscription at a huge discount, allowing you to make the best use of Adobe Stock. If you choose to continue in the second year, you'll benefit from the still-low price of $29.99 / £24.96 / AU$43.99.

What file formats are Adobe Stock assets available in?

Photos and  illustrations are available on Adobe Stock in JPEG format. Vectors can be downloaded in either AI, EPS, or JPEG format. HD and 4K videos are available in various formats, including MOV. 3D assets are available as model (OBJ), light (EXR or HDR), and material (MDL) files.  Design templates are available for Photoshop as PSDT files, for Illustrator as AIT files, and for InDesign as INDT files. Motion graphics templates are available as MOGRT files for use in Adobe Premiere Pro.

How do I create a free Adobe ID?

Creating an Adobe ID is free, easy and involves no commitment. You only have to provide an email address; alternatively you can log in via your social media account. First, go to (opens in new tab), and then select Create an account. Provide the necessary information, then choose Create account. You will receive a mail from Adobe with a link to verify your email address. (You may have to wait for some time before receiving this, so be patient.)

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Tom May

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specializing in art, photography, design and travel. He has been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq (opens in new tab), and deputy editor at net magazine. He has also worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, T3, Heat, Company and Bella.