Free photos, icons, magic and more with Google Slides add-ons

Ed Tech

Ed Tech | Monday, October 16, 2017

Free photos, icons, magic and more with Google Slides add-ons

Google Slides add-ons give your presentations superpowers that they didn’t have before! Check out what’s available.

Imagine, for a second, that Google Slides is a Shop Vac. (You know, one of those short, wide wet/dry vacuum cleaners with a hose.) Go with me on this …

You can use that vacuum cleaner to do a lot with just a hose.

Cheerios and Cheetos all over your minivan? (If you’re a parent, you know the struggle is real.) Clean ’em out with the vacuum cleaner.

Big rain storm has your basement flooded? Suck the water up with the vacuum cleaner.

But what if those Cheetos are down in the cracks and crevices of your vehicle and you just can’t quite reach them?

That’s where your attachments save you:

  • Use that narrow skinny one to get between the cracks in the seat.
  • Use the wide one to cover a larger surface area of the floor on each pass.
  • Use the tiny pointed one and put the hose where the air blows out instead and voila — you can inflate an air mattress!

Your vacuum cleaner is handy. But with attachments, it gains super powers that makes it even more useful.

Big news: the “Google Slides vacuum cleaner” just got attachments.

They’re called add-ons. We already had them with Docs, Forms and Sheets. Add-ons let people with coding skills to create functionality for Google Slides that it doesn’t have otherwise.

And when you open up that reservoir of creativity, great things start to flood through.

Google announced the release of Slides add-ons, and in short order, we already have some new magical things we can do in the classroom.

Kasey Bell and I discussed the release of Google Slides add-ons and other cool updates in this episode of the Google Teacher  podcast. (What? You haven’t subscribed to the podcast yet? Click here to subscribe so each new episode is automatically downloaded to your phone!)

As of this post (October 2017), here’s what Google Slides add-ons make possible:

Add icons with The Noun Project

The Noun Project (link to add-on) is one of my favorite web tools for students right now. Its library of more than 1 million free-to-use icons has tons of uses in the classroom, from creating infographics to making presentation slides more visual to better understanding abstract terms with images.

The add-on gives you quick, easy access to 100 of its most commonly used icons. Plus, it lets you change the color of the icons — a premium, paid option on the website — for free! If the icons you need aren’t available through the add-on, you can always download and use them from the website ( for free (with attribution through a Creative Commons license).

Classroom impact: Students can use icons to create infographics with Google Drawings. Teachers can add icons to their presentations and other materials to make stronger, brain-friendly verbal/visual connections.

Add royalty-free photos with Unsplash

Unsplash (link to add-on) is an ever-growing database of free-to-use, high-resolution images. Users can browse and download 300,000+ images on the Unsplash website. But now, you can search the database and add images directly from the add-on!

Best of all, you don’t have to worry about copyright or licensing with Unsplash photos. They’re totally free “by the world’s most generous community of photographers,” according to the Unsplash website.

Use the search bar to search Unsplash in the add-on. Click the image you want and it’s instantly added to your slide.

Classroom impact: Students can illustrate presentations they do for class with Unsplash photos. (So can teachers!) Unsplash photos can illustrate stories students write slide by slide in Google Slides.

Get everyone learning with interactive Pear Deck slides

I am late to the game on Pear Deck (link to add-on), but because of the add-on, I’ve taken a closer look at it. And I’m AMAZED at what I see!

Pear Deck makes your presentation slides interactive. Don’t have students just look at your slides. Let them interact with them on their own devices while you present. You can do the same thing inside Pear Deck’s website ( as well.

(Sure, presenting from the front of the room all the time is a very teacher-centered way of teaching, but it still has its place. And when students are interacting individually, they’re way more locked in to what’s going on.)

A 30-day free trial of paid features unlocks a heap of interactive slide types, like warm-up, temperature, reflection, exit ticket, drawing response, text response and number response. The free version includes multiple-choice, number response and text response slides — and an unlimited number of slide decks.

Classroom impact: By adding interactive slides to a presentation, you get instant feedback from students. Students are actively interacting with the lesson instead of passively listening.

Save time and clicks with Slides Toolbox

Slides Toolbox (link to add-on) won’t revolutionize your classroom, but it does some handy things that can make you more efficient.

Some of Slides Toolbox’s options:

  • export slides as images
  • import images to slides
  • utilize text tools like change letter case, remove duplicate lines, remove empty lines, remove extra spaces

When I prepare to host a Twitter chat, I often make the questions for the chat on Google Slides — one question per slide. Then, I download those slides as images and tweet the images with the questions on them. It looks nicer and it’s easier to notice in a busy Twitter chat.

Downloading individual images over and over again takes lots of clicks. Slides Toolbox lets you download multiple slides as image files in just a few clicks. THIS one is enough for me to keep Slides Toolbox installed in my Google account.

Classroom impact: Teachers and students who want to manage slides and text faster (in certain ways) may find this useful and time-saving.

Add awesome elements to photos with Shutterstock Editor

When I first saw Shutterstock (link to add-on) in the add-ons list, I assumed that it was a portal to buying stock photos through Google Slides. It does that.

However, Shutterstock has given us a photo editor in this add-on with some nice tools that don’t exist in Google Slides. Two big ones that caught my attention: Instagram-style filters and the ability to add emojis to images. (I’ve tried to add emojis to Slides and Drawings and it has caused some unrecoverable glitches to my files.)

The add-on lets you select an image and takes you to the editor site, where you edit the image. Then it returns you to your slide and inserts the image on your slide.

A list of some of the features in the Shutterstock

  • opacity (how transparent or opaque an image is)
  • flip an image (which you can already do in Slides)
  • embed text, emojis and shapes in images (instead of adding them in separate elements on a slide)
  • resize image in perfect dimensions for social media

Classroom impact: This makes creating BookSnaps in Google Slides much easier and much more fun. BookSnaps are where students take a picture of a page of a book they’re reading and reflect/add comments directly on the image of the page. See the #BookSnaps hashtag on Twitter for examples.

Other add-ons:

  • Balsamiq Wireframes — Create wireframes (sketches of what a website, app or visualization of an idea) and insert them into Slides. Free 30-day trial, then $5/month afterward.
  • LucidChart — Flowcharts, organizational charts, Venn diagrams, floor plans and more. Free version: 3 documents, 60 objects per document. If you sign up for the FreeEDU version: unlimited documents and objects.
  • Photo Slideshow — Gets pictures from a Google Photos album or a Google Drive folder. Especially useful to display an album on your website.
  • Adobe Stock — Adobe Stock integrates with Google Slides so you can search for paid images without leaving your presentation.

For notifications of new Ditch That Textbook content and helpful links:

Interested in having Matt present at your event or school? Contact him by e-mail!

Matt is scheduled to present at the following upcoming events:

[getnoticed-event-table scope=”upcoming” max=”15″ expanding=”false”]

FREE teaching ideas and templates in your inbox every week!
Subscribe to Ditch That Textbook
Love this? Don’t forget to share
  • athornton says:

    Noun Project add-in cannot be installed at this time (1/30/2020).

    • Matt Miller says:

      Right. Lots of Google add-ons and extensions are dealing with this right now. Google has made changes to its authentication process and lots of developers are working to get re-certified. It can be time-consuming and expensive. I’ll leave The Noun Project in this post for now to see if they decide to invest the time and money in improving.

  • >