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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 Icons?

Many independent vendors are supplying custom icons in sizes and resolutions common to certain computer platforms. The article explains what icons are, how they are designed 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 modern GUI. Icons are small pictures of standardized sizes that visually represent objects, actions, and other concepts. In graphical user interfaces, icons are used as a quicker, more intuitive way to communicate with the user. Icons depicting typical elements of a user interface are more visually appealing than text, can be recognized faster, and are easier for new computer users.

Originally introduced in 1970 by the Xerox Research Center and widely popularized by the Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows systems, icons make computer novices feel more comfortable with computer systems, learn faster and work more efficiently. Icons can be used to replace or supplement text messages. 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 graphic formats for storing icons. Microsoft Windows systems use Windows icons in the platform-specific ICO format. Mac OS systems store 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 Mac OS systems, while Unix users can create PNG icons with just about any graphic editor.

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

Pixel dimensions of all icons are platform dependent. For example, Windows icons are specified as pictures in 16 and 256-color gammas as well as True Color pictures with alpha channel. Windows icons are supplied in standard resolutions 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, 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 images. Other systems such as Windows Mobile can employ standard icons of other sizes, e.g. 24x24 pixels.

Many 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 platforms. The company sells royalty-free icons individually and in matching sets incorporating 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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Program Toolbar Icons Add professionally crafted toolbar icons to your recent projects. Program Toolbar Icons are readily available, royalty-free images of objects, tasks and concepts that are commonly used in software toolbars.

Classic Hardware Icon Set Hardware Icon Set is a library of hardware icons in a classical Windows style, distributed in BMP, PNG, ICO and GIF formats and 16x16, 24x24 and 32x32 sizes.

Medical Icons for Vista Medical Icons for Vista has been design to eliminate any misunderstanding appearing while looking at a medical webpage or operating a medical software. The images are available in numerous sizes and formats.

Standard Chess Icons develop chess games and Web sites faster with Standard Chess Icons! All white and black figures are provided as 2D and 3D images, the images of timer and chess board are also present.

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