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What Are Mac Icons?

Numerous independent vendors are offering custom icons in sizes and resolutions standard to certain systems. 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 incorporated into any modern GUI. Icons are small pictograms of standardized sizes that depict objects, actions, and other concepts. In window-based systems, icons are used as a quicker, more intuitive way to communicate with the user. Icons representing standard elements of a user interface are better visible than text, can be recognized faster, and are easier for new computer users.

Originally introduced in 1970 by the Xerox Research Center and widely deployed by the Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows systems, icons make new users feel more comfortable with operating systems, learn quicker and interact more efficiently. Icons can be employed to replace or supplement text commands. Commonly 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 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 Apple systems, while Unix users can design 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 platforms support icon sizes of 16x16 to 128x128 pixels, while some platforms readily accept icon images as large as 512x512 pixels. The high-resolution 512x512 pixel icons were first employed 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 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, icons 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 icons. Other systems such as Windows Mobile can use standard icons of other resolutions, e.g. 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 sells royalty-free icons individually and in matching sets incorporating icons drawn a common style or theme.

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Music Icon Library Music Icon Library will help you illustrate all the musical related objects. Provided sizes are 16x16, 24x24, 32x32, and 48x48, the file formats are GIF, BMP, ICO and PNG.

Standard Software Icons Standard Software Icons is pack of colorful software icons carefully created by professional artists. This set is the best selection for navigation panels and toolbars of all sorts.

Database Icon Set Database Icon Set brings you lots of stylish and colorful icons for database application development. The images are available in all the typical icon sizes and file formats include BMP, ICO, GIF and PNG.

Security Software Icons Security Software Icons is a collection of wonderfully-crafted pre-made icons for use in business and private products, including software applications, websites and desktops. The icons have a marvelous color palette, smooth and well-rounded edges.

iPhone Style Social Icons iPhone Style Social Icons are created to work as a complete set and posess common properties like modern iPhone style and bright colors. iPhone Style Social Icons save your time and money being quite a bargain.