Scott Hanselman

The Internet's Best Placeholder Image Sites for Web Development

March 01, 2013 Comment on this post [25] Posted in Musings
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Placeholder images of Nicholas CageSo you're making a site but you haven't got the images ready. You'll need placeholders, but things are changing quick and you don't want to make a bunch of images you'll eventually throw away.

Enter placeholder image sites. The de factor standard for these sites is that you call a URL similar to and you'll get an image back. Sometimes you can add text, or add a g for gray scale. You'd be surprised how much more compelling it makes basic layouts.

For example, <img src=""> gets you this:

Here's a collection of the web's best sites for dynamic placeholder images.

The internet was missing the ability to provide custom-sized placeholder images of Nicolas Cage. Now it can.


The internet was missing the ability to provide custom-sized placeholder images of Bill Murray.


More complex but more flexible, DummyImage lets you do colors, gradients and announce the size.

For example is


The original and cleanest, you get gray placeholders. is

For Placement Only is similar. gets you:

Like bacon?

Did I miss any awesome ones?

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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March 01, 2013 1:43 is pretty nice. For example,
March 01, 2013 1:53
Haha very nice.

I need to make use of the Bill Murray images soon!
March 01, 2013 2:25 is my go-to site for image placeholders.

With providing all the text.
March 01, 2013 2:44
Thanks Benjimawoo!
March 01, 2013 3:24
Woulda sworn I saw a warlock in there, but when I click it I get charlie sheen! :)
March 01, 2013 3:54
I never knew such a thing existed! I am exposed to a totally new practice and plus it's hilarious. Kudos!
March 01, 2013 4:32
very nice and quite simple to use, i will use this in my next development.
March 01, 2013 5:31
The only thing about these sites is that you can't control what the image will be. For example, the "" site allows users to replace selected images with their own. I did a quick test of a few seemingly safe terms and got back some VERY risqué results. Probably not the best choice for, say, a prototype site for a church, etc.
March 01, 2013 5:31
John - Agreed, but I don't recommend for that reason. Some of the sites are random but most aren't. They cache based on size.
March 01, 2013 9:30
What about us poor https only site developers?
March 01, 2013 13:10
I'd give a shout out to holder.js, which generates images using local javascript. Main benefit here is that this works offline too.
March 01, 2013 15:45
I've started using a client-side solution for placeholders, much better than depending on some third party service.

Just saw Tim above mentioned the same. It's really great
March 01, 2013 23:42
Try out, as well. It's random content, meant to stress test the design, in case you are going to have user generated content. Really nice for seeing what a design will look like with "real" content.
March 02, 2013 1:50
My favorite:
March 02, 2013 2:26
Is there a service like this for animated gifs? I know you have a big collection of those ...
March 02, 2013 2:54
A cool way to use these services is to generate DIVs of random sizes and then dynamically specify the image sizes

Here is an example in JSFiddle.

I noticed that http://place*/ websites block requests if they see multiple coming. Would be nice to dynamically generate a page that looks like this

Anyone wants to try?
March 02, 2013 3:16
The URLs are very, VERY suspicious:

The ../sheen was inserted by me and it still works...
March 04, 2013 23:00
March 07, 2013 21:47
There are beautiful pictures there are ugly pictures. But why choose you to show the ugly ones like that zombi one?

April 04, 2013 17:40
I recently found these: Since them I'm hooked they are awesome!
May 01, 2013 0:29
I've looked around and found a service that offers images placeholder for every type of website and more... Musings please add it to the list -

June 13, 2013 20:02
Hello! This list is great, and it inspired our team to produce a more generalised service: PixelHoldr for creating placeholders.

The service allows you to create placeholder images using images licensed for commercial use from Flickr, solid fills and gradients. Also, once it has generated your placeholder it is incredibly fast loading thanks to our delivery network.
August 11, 2013 18:51
I'd also like to throw out my own creation: . It's pretty much like some of the others, but it doesn't have a specific theme - it's "creature" agnostic.
September 28, 2013 3:32 here is a pizza image service. It was just launched so only basic functionality right now but more is being added.
October 01, 2013 3:43
I'd also like to throw out my own creation. It's picutres of Austin TX.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.