Microsoft’s gallery had an aesthetic, to be sure, and it wasn’t high art. But these images, cheesy as they are, were also incredibly useful in their time. It wasn’t easy to quickly find images in the dial-up age, and an entire industry of CD-ROMs you could buy for $50+ tried to fill that niche. You could buy those, or you could stick with what you already had: Microsoft’s clip art.
It’s not hard to find images to use online – just use an image search. This works well, but it’s worth noting that doing so isn’t necessarily legal. Most of the images you can find this way are owned by their original creators. This likely doesn’t matter if you’re only using something for private use, or even a school assignment, but if you intend to publish a work you need to make sure all rights are cleared.
Back in the ‘90s, Clip Art took over Word and PowerPoint files thanks to the thousands of office workers and students who used the images as a way to “improve” their documents. These days there are a large number of free images available on the web, and Microsoft is recognizing this by killing off its Clip Art portal in recent versions Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. “The Office.com Clip Art and image library has closed shop,” explains Microsoft’s Doug Thomas. “Usage of Office’s image library has been declining year-to-year as customers rely more on search engines.”
This applies more to teachers than to anyone else, but clip art (especially black line clip art) can´t be beat when it comes to using images that are going to be photocopied. It creates a much cleaner look than a photo. While there is much talk of going digital, the reality is that most of the world still is using paper for teaching . . . and a lot of it, not because we aren´t open to the digital world, but many times not all students have access.
While most references to Clip Art disappeared with Office 2013, users were able to insert the old-school images into documents using an Office.com Clip Art option. That is now being replaced by Bing Images, with Microsoft filtering images to ensure they’re based on the Creative Commons licensing system for personal or commercial use. Most of the new images are much more modern, instead of the illustrated remnants of the past. Clip Art might be facing the same Office-related demise as the great Clippy assistant, but let the images below remind you of the good old times before the modern-era takeover.
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