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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 PNG Icons?

A number of independent vendors are offering custom icons in sizes and resolutions standard to certain computer platforms. The article explains what icons are, how they are designed and implemented in various systems, and what standards are defined for Windows icons, Mac icons, and PNG icons.

Computer icons are an integral part of any graphical user interface. Icons are small pictograms of standard sizes that depict objects, actions, and symbols. In window-based systems, icons are used as a faster, more intuitive way to communicate with the user. Icons representing standard elements of a user interface are more visually appealing 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 computer novices feel more comfortable with computer systems, learn quicker and work more efficiently. Icons can be employed 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 several file formats for storing icons. The Windows systems use Windows icons in the platform-specific ICO format. Apple Macintosh systems use Mac icons in their specific formats, while Unix-based systems employ PNG icons for most applications. As such, icon software is generally available for the Windows and Apple systems, while Unix users can design their icons with just about any graphic editor.

As a rule of thumb, icons are square pictograms that come in a number of standard sizes and color resolutions. Most systems use icons of 16x16 to 128x128 pixels, while some systems readily accept icon images as large as 512x512 pixels. The ultra-high definition 512x512 pixel icons were first used in Mac OS Leopard.

Pixel resolutions of all icons are platform dependent. For example, Windows icons are defined as images in 16 and 256-color gammas as well as True Color images with alpha channel. Windows icons are supplied in standard sizes of 16x16, 32x32, and 48x48 pixels. Windows Vista implements new standards for Windows icons, including icons in sizes of up to 256x256 pixels in True Color only. Optionally, images 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 older versions of Windows and for lower resolution icons. Other systems such as Windows Mobile can employ standard icons of other sizes, such as 24x24 pixels.

Numerous independent vendors 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 platforms. The company provides royalty-free icons individually and in matching sets that include icons drawn a common style or theme.

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

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Large Weather Icons Large Weather Icons represent a number of weather conditions that are common for software, weather Web sites, and mobile gadgets. The images come in all sizes standard to Windows, Mac OS, and mobile platforms. The largest versions are huge 512x512 pixel images with vector sources in Adobe Illustrator (.ai) format easily affordable and ready to be printed or used in presentations in highest quality.

Classic Hardware Icon Set Hardware Icon Set is a pack of hardware images, distributed in GIF, BMP, ICO and PNG formats and 16x16, 24x24 and 32x32 sizes. The library features both 32-bit and 256-color icons.

Program Toolbar Icons Add beautifully crafted toolbar icons to your recent projects. Program Toolbar Icons are instantly available, royalty-free graphics of items, actions and symbols that are typically used in software toolbars.

Perfect Science Icons Scientific software and Web-site developers will truly appreciate this hard-to-find set of scientific icons. Presenting nuerous symbols and objects used in all the fields of science and engineering, Perfect Science Icons are a wonderfull value.

Large Education Icons A collection of Large Education Icons is everything you need to make your school-related software shine. The icons are readily available in sizes ranging from 16x16 to 256x256.