Logo Stock Application Toolbar and Symbol Icons HomeDownloadsBuyContact  
Home
Icons
Icon Design
Downloads
Order
Support

What Are Windows Icons?

Computer icons are an integral part of any modern GUI. Icons are small pictures of standard sizes that depict objects, actions, and symbols. In window-based systems, icons are used as a quicker, more intuitive way to communicate with the user. Icons depicting standard elements of a user interface are more visually appealing than text, can be recognized faster, and are certainly easier on the eyes.

Originally introduced in 1970 by the Xerox Research Center and widely popularized by the Mac OS and Microsoft Windows platforms, icons make new users feel more comfortable with operating systems, learn faster and work more efficiently. Icons can be employed to replace or supplement text messages. Widely used in menus, toolbars, on buttons and in the latest ribbon-style user interfaces, icons have come a long way from the original concept.

There are multiple graphic formats for storing icons. The Windows systems store Windows icons in the platform-dependent ICO format. Mac OS computers store Mac icons in their specific formats, while Unix-based systems use PNG icons for most applications. As such, icon editing software is generally available for the Windows and Mac OS platforms, while Unix users can design PNG icons with just about any graphic editor.

Generally speaking, icons are square pictures that come in a variety of standard sizes and color resolutions. Most systems support icons of 16x16 to 128x128 pixels, while some platforms readily accept icons as large as 512x512 pixels. The big 512x512 pixel icons were first employed in Mac OS Leopard.

Pixel dimensions of all icons are operating system dependent. For example, Windows icons are defined as pictures in 16 and 256-color gammas as well as True Color pictures with alpha channel. Windows icons come in standard sizes of 16x16, 32x32, and 48x48 pixels. Windows Vista defines new standards for Windows icons, including icons in sizes of up to 256x256 pixels in True Color only. Optionally, icons of 128x128 and 512x512 pixels are supported. Interestingly, the high-resolution Windows Vista icons are stored in compressed PNG format instead of Windows ICO used in previous versions of Windows and for lower resolution icons. Other platforms such as Windows Mobile can use standard icons of other resolutions, such as 24x24 pixels.

Many independent designers are providing custom icons. Aha-Soft offers a variety of Windows icons, Mac icons, and PNG icons in all sizes and resolutions common to those systems. The company sells royalty-free icons individually and in matching sets incorporating icons drawn a common style or theme.

Icon Articles

Icon Application News: RSS Feed
Icon Perfect Toolbar Icons is a collection of ready-made icons for use in commercial and personal programs and websites. The icons have a bright color palette, smooth and well-rounded edges. A variety of formats and sizes is provided.

Icon Enhance your accounting or business-oriented software with readily available professional Business Toolbar Icons. Over two hundred of professionally designed and carefully crafted icons representing various financial objects and symbols are included.

Icon IconLover is our pick. It allows you to design and edit all kinds of graphics required in the software development cycle, including icons, static and animated cursors and interface elements - all these kinds of graphics can now be designed in a single application.

Icon Icon Processor is an icon converter. It makes icons from your images. It's possible to convert 256-color icons into True Color icons and XP icons.

Icon ICL-Icon Extractor will scan your files, archives, folders and all local disks for icons. It can download icons from the Internet and customize Windows icons.

Icon Perfect Icon makes icon from any graphic file (PNG, JPEG, BMP, TIFF, WMF and more) in just seconds. Create stylish icons for Windows XP. Easily replace, colorize and save icons that Windows uses to display standard objects, folders, files.