If you’re a designer, freelance writer or anyone else creating content, chances are you’ll need some stock images from time to time. Adobe Stock is a fantastic option when you’re searching for the perfect visual.

Home to more than 40 million photos, illustrations, 3D assets, videos, vectors, and templates, Adobe Stock helps you find images quick and accurately. We’ve got your step-by-step guide (with all sorts of tips and tricks) that will limit your results so you can find the best images for whatever you need.

But first, let’s set the scene… You need images of clowns, lots of them. Nothing embarrassing or sinister, you just need to create an infographic about how much clowns can make working parties. Naturally, no one wants to look at a bunch of boring clown stats without some pictures!

How to use Adobe Stock

1. Pick a search term

On the Adobe Stock homepage, you’ll see a search box.

Run a search for your image. A search for “clown” comes up with more than 68,100 images.

That first one is probably on point. But the second one is only going to work if your content looks at why clowns scare the living crap out of people. Actually, maybe we should do an infographic on that, too. Anyway…

2. Sort the results

If your result has lots of images, whittle that list down by clicking “View Filters” on the left side of the screen and selecting a “Sort by” filter from the drop-down menu.

Relevance

These images have the highest number of keywords that are closely related to the ones you searched with. This is the default sort setting.

Most recent

These are the images that were uploaded with your search keyword(s) most recently. Warning: they are often very odd.

Popularity

This search ranks results by the ratio of downloads to views. So these are the images that most often get from the view step to the download step. Remember, this changes depending on when you search!

For example, I am searching on the day before Halloween, and these are the super-fun, most popular clowns in town.

(At least I hope that’s the reason.)

Downloads

This is just like it sounds. You’ll see the images that have been downloaded the most. Here are the most downloaded clowns in Adobe Stock country.

Undiscovered

This gives you the images under your keyword(s) that have never been downloaded from Adobe Stock; it’s a tool that can help you to keep your final product looking unique. Warning: images may be undiscovered because they’re off-putting, or off point.

A little off-putting…
…and a little off-point

Back to our “Relevance” sorted results. How else can we narrow them if relevance is still the right place to start, but doesn’t go far enough?

3. Choose a file type

Adobe Stock also lets you choose between illustration, photo and vector files (available in JPEG, AI, EPS, and MOV formats). The default is to show all three kinds, but if you want only one or all but one, open the filters at the left again, and then check or uncheck the subcategory which is in the second section below the top drop down field we just looked at.

Here are my vector clowns (and if anyone wants to start a band with me, I have a great name picked out already).

4. Select a content type

If you’re looking for actual editorial images, photos that were taken to illustrate current and newsworthy events, look just under the subcategory section in the left side “filters” section. You’ll see that the default setting is to exclude editorial images.

If you decide to include them, or search only for those types of images, adjust your search here. Remember, editorial images can’t be used to sell or advertise anything, because the images of the people, places, and things in the image are licensed only for news-related use and cannot be used commercially.

5. Get really specific

Finish up your preferences with orientation, people and color.

Orientation

Move on to the orientation options, right beneath the editorial section. Here you can narrow your range of choices based on whether the images are horizontal, vertical (portrait), square, or landscape format. This is important for some designs, and for some publications.

People

If you want to make sure your image either includes people or keeps them out, mark this preference next.

Color

Below people, enter any particular color you’re searching for using its hex code in the color field. Here is a good tool for finding hex codes for colors.

Categories

If you’d like to search using categories, Adobe Stock offers search categories that are popular among its users. Those are at the bottom of the home page.

6. Use Adobe’s brand new tools

Adobe Stock has some specials tools that update its existing search options and provide more advanced ways to identify images.

Adobe Sensei

You can also search for perfect image based on how it looks rather than keywords. Try this by dragging a picture into the Search Bar or clicking on the Camera icon. Adobe’s Sensei technology will find and identify similar images.

When I upload my Kellywise the Clown image for searching, I get these results.

With these results, let’s also test the “Depth of Field” and “Vivid Color” filters.

Depth of Field

Think about “depth of field” as the blurriness in the background of a photo. If you move the slider to the right…

…you get more focus on the central subjects and more blur in the background.

Vivid Color

This filter controls how bright or muted your image results are. Here’s what less (all the way to the left) and more (all the way to right) Vivid Color looks like.

Less vivid color
More vivid color

Use these tools to get even closer to the images you’re hoping to find.

The deadly truth about Adobe Stock images (and also clowns)

You have probably heard or read the quote, “There are two types of people in this world. People who hate clowns, and clowns.”

However, the reality is that there are two types of people in the world, but that the two types are people who can find amazing images of clowns regardless of their feelings, and people who can’t.

With a greatly expanded catalog of photos and better search options than ever, it’s pretty easy to find just about anything on Adobe Stock—including images of clowns. Stay specific and get creative with your search criteria, and you’re very likely to find the perfect images for every project.

Got Adobe Stock tricks of your own? Let us know in the comments!