When you are viewing a web page online, are actually looking at a number of different files that have been assembled by your web browser.
Downloading and Saving an Image
Each image on a web page is actually its own separate file. You can usually save that file to your hard drive for later viewing and use.
- Place your mouse cursor over the image
- Open the Contextual Menu by:
- On Windows: Right clicking
- On Mac: Two-finger tapping
- On some mobile and touch-screen devices: tap and hold
- In the contextual menu, select Save Image (or Save Image As)
- Name the file and decide where to save it
- Be careful not to change the file extension.
If you want to view the image by itself before saving it, you can select View Image in the contextual menu. This will usually open a new browser tab with only the image displayed. This can be helpful:
- On a visually complicated page, with many overlapping images, if you can’t tell where each image begins and ends.
- If you want to open several images individually before deciding which ones to save.
A Note About Copyright
Just because you are technically able to save an image from a website doesn’t mean that you should, or that you are legally allowed to use it. Images, along with text and videos, are subject to copyright law. The original creator or publisher of the website is the likely owner of any image you find online.Unless there is a specific permission provided on-page, or the image is so old as to be in the Public Domain, you are not legally allowed to use the image unless you get permission from the copyright holder.
It doesn’t matter if the website doesn’t have the copyright notice on the bottom of the page — that is not a requirement, only a reminder. It also doesn’t matter if you want to use the image for a non-commercial purpose. You still have to get permission.
The only reason you would not have to get permission is if your use of it constitutes Fair Use, which would happen if you are:
- Reporting news about the image.
- Commenting on the image.
- Making a parody of the image.
- Analyzing or criticizing the image in an academic or scholarly context.
There are other instances where it's ok to use images:
- If the image is older than 1923 it would be in the Public Domain.
- If the publisher of the website wants to give permission for people to use the image freely, they will usually label it as being released in the Creative Commons.
- If you are looking for images to use that have been released into the Creative Commons, try:
While you can use the image in these instances, you still need to be careful to follow any applicable attribution requirements. While many image owner's have released many photos under a creative commons license, this license usually stipulates that you have to attribute the photo to the image owner.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I cannot open a contextual menu on a particular website?
This might be caused by a special script on the web page which is blocking you from opening contextual menus. This is most often done by website owners who want to make sure you do not steal their content.
You should usually not save their images if they do not want you to. However, you can use a screen capture tool (like Grab on Mac or the Windows button + PrtSc on a PC) to take a picture of the picture.
What if the contextual menu doesn’t have an image-related options?
This could be caused by two things:
- The image is in the background of the page, not presented as its own image element.
- If this is the case, you can still find it, but you have to dig a little deeper. And you need to use either Chrome or Firefox web browsers.
- Select Inspect Element.
- Click on the Resources tab.
- Find the image in the list of downloaded resources.
- The image is being presented as part of a video, Flash application, or similar non-image format.
- You’ll have to use a screen-capture tool to download the image.