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Icon sizes: 48x48, 32x32, 24x24, 16x16, 256x256, 128x128, 64x64, 512x512
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What Are Windows 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 used and implemented in various platforms, 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 pictures of standard resolutions that depict objects, actions, and other concepts. In graphical user interfaces, icons are used as a faster, more intuitive way to communicate with the user. Icons depicting common 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 new users feel more comfortable with computer systems, learn quicker and work more efficiently. Icons can be used to replace or supplement text commands. Widely used in menus, toolbars, on buttons and in the latest ribbon-type 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 use PNG icons for most applications. As such, icon editing software is generally available for the Windows and Mac OS systems, while Unix users can create their icons with just about any graphic editor.

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

Pixel resolutions of all icons are operating system dependent. For example, Windows icons are specified as images in 16 and 256-color gammas as well as True Color pictures with alpha channel. Windows icons come in standard resolutions of 16x16, 32x32, and 48x48 pixels. Windows Vista implements new standards for Windows icons, including icons in resolutions 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 previous versions of Windows and for lower resolution images. Other systems such as Windows Mobile can use standard icons of other sizes, e.g. 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.

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Program Toolbar Icons Add beautifully designed toolbar icons to your software projects. Program Toolbar Icons are readily available, royalty-free graphics of objects, tasks and concepts that are typically used in application toolbars.

24x24 Free Button Icons 24x24 Free Button Icons pack has everything that are required for your web site or application toolbar.

People Icons for Vista People Icons for Vista depict people of different occupations, groups and family status. They are created in Vista style and are available with or without shadows. Icons are provided in various formats and sizes.

Standard Software Icons Standard Software Icons is set of colorful software-related icons meticulously designed by professional artists. This pack is a perfect selection for navigation panels and toolbars of all sorts.

Standard Chess Icons Design chess games and Web pages faster with Standard Chess Icons! All white and black figures are available as 2D and 3D images, the graphics for timer and chess board are also present.