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Icon sizes: 256x256, 48x48, 32x32, 24x24, 20x20, 16x16, 512x512
File formats: ICO, GIF, PNG, BMP

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What Are Icons?

Numerous independent vendors are offering custom icons in sizes and resolutions standard to certain computer platforms. The article explains what icons are, how they are used and implemented in various systems, and what standards exist for Windows icons, Mac icons, and PNG icons.

Computer icons are an integral part of any graphical user interface. Icons are small pictograms of standardized resolutions that depict objects, actions, and symbols. In graphical user interfaces, icons are used as a faster, more intuitive way to communicate with the user. Icons representing typical elements of a user interface are better visible than text, can be recognized faster, and are easier for new computer users.

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

There are multiple file formats for storing icons. The Windows systems use Windows icons in the platform-dependent ICO format. Mac OS systems use 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 their icons with just about any image editor.

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

Pixel resolutions 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 images 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 resolutions of up to 256x256 pixels in True Color only. Optionally, icons of 128x128 and 512x512 pixels are supported. Interestingly, the higher resolution versions of 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 sizes, such as 24x24 pixels.

Numerous independent designers are offering custom icons. Aha-Soft offers a wide selection of Windows icons, Mac icons, and PNG icons in all sizes and resolutions standard to those systems. The company sells royalty-free icons individually and in matching sets that include icons drawn a common style or theme.

Ready-Made Icon Sets

Individual Ready Icons

You can buy individual icons to suit your needs. Each icon is $1 when purchased individually.

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Blue Icon Library Instantly enhance your software with readily accessible, professionally created icons. Blue Icon Library holds dozens of images that are designed to look strict and stylish.

Free Business Desktop Icons Free Business Desktop Icons is a collection of 10 stock icons for use in commercial and personal products, such as software applications, websites, blogs, and desktops. The graphics are free for personal, frequent and commercial use.

Large Toolbar Icons If you are looking for a modern and stylish design for you application`s toolbar, try using graphics in large sizes. Large Toolbar Icons collection from Aha-Soft is just what you need.

Standard Business Icons Standard Business Icons is a collection of great-looking royalty-free icons for use in applications and on web pages. Icons are presented in such categories as Business, Money, Finances, Transport and Reports.

Hardware Icon Library The Icon Empire Hardware Icon Library is a comprehensive collection of icons that covers most of the possible hardware-related project's needs in amazing detail.