Understanding Image Search Filters

Image search can be a complicated process, especially when trying to navigate complicated licensing and use restrictions. This page explains Nuggety's search filters and describe some of the less intuitive options.

What Filtering on Nuggety Does

Filtering on Nuggety serves two purposes:

  1. When you select a filter Nuggety hides all sites that don't support the option
  2. When you search a site Nuggety passes the filter along to refine your results

For example, if you select "Illustrations" for Image Type, only sites that let you target your search to illustrations will be listed. Some sites only have illustrations, which means no filter needs to be set when you search them. Other sites contain multiple types of images, so a filter will be set to show only illustrations in your results.

"Supporting Site" Counts

Every filter option shows a number in brackets after it, like Illustrations [35]. That number is the total number of sites that support the filter option in addition to any filters already selected. After a filter is set, the counts are updated for each option, including options to change or remove an existing filter. Some combinations of filters will result in [0] supporting sites.

What a Filter Means

Filtering on Nuggety is always specific and exclusive. For most filters this is the desired behavior, but it can be counterintuitive. For instance, any image that licensed for commercially use can also be used non-commercially, by definition. If you only want an image for non-commercial use, you may be tempted to use the "Non-commercial" filter. But doing so will exclude all images that can be used commercially, plus any site that doesn't provide targeting by non-commercial usage.

Simplifying Licensing Language

Every image on the web has a specific license that explains how and where an image can be used. Nuggety has analyzed each site's licensing terms and options to create consistent usage filters across multiple sites.

Use Restrictions

Whether images are offered for free or pay does not affect the terms of its use. "Use" or "usage" is determined by the context in which the image is to be used. Images will sometimes be priced differently if you want to use them in a magazine, on your blog or on a billboard.

Use Details

Aside from use restrictions, there are a few more licensing concerns for both free and pay images.


Most stock images online are either free to download or available under a royalty-free license. You may also find images that are not available for any use, such as personal photos or indexed images from web pages.