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Icon sizes: 48x48, 32x32, 24x24, 20x20, 16x16, 256x256, 128x128, 64x64, 512x512
File formats: ICO, GIF, PNG, BMP

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What Are Mac Icons?

A number of independent vendors are providing 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 exist for Windows icons, Mac icons, and PNG icons.

Computer icons are incorporated into any modern GUI. Icons are small pictures of standard sizes 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 depicting common elements of a user interface are more visually appealing than text, can be recognized faster, and are certainly easier on the eyes.

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

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

Generally speaking, icons are square pictures that come in a number of standard sizes and color resolutions. Most platforms support icon sizes of 16x16 to 128x128 pixels, while some platforms readily accept icon images as large as 512x512 pixels. The big 512x512 pixel icons were first used 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 resolutions 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, images 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 images. Other systems such as Windows Mobile can use standard icons of other sizes, such as 24x24 pixels.

Numerous independent vendors are providing 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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You can buy individual icons to suit your needs. Each icon is $1 when purchased individually.

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

Free Business Desktop Icons Free Business Desktop Icons is a collection of 10 ready icons to be used in commercial and personal projects, including software, webpages, blogs, and presentations. The images are free for personal, frequent and commercial use.

24x24 Free Toolbar Icons 24x24 Free Toolbar Icons library has all the images that are necessery for your web page or application toolbar.

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

Standard Business Icons Standard Business Icons is a collection of great-looking royalty-free icons to be used in software and on web pages. Images come in such categories as Reports, Transport, Business, Finances and Money.