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What Are Mac Icons?

Numerous independent vendors are supplying 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 platforms, and what standards exist for Windows icons, Mac icons, and PNG icons.

Computer icons are an integral part of any graphical user interface. Icons are small pictograms of standardized 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 deployed by the Mac OS and Microsoft Windows platforms, icons make computer novices feel more comfortable with operating systems, learn faster and work more efficiently. Icons can be employed 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 multiple file formats for storing icons. Microsoft 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 create their icons with just about any image editor.

As a rule of thumb, icons are square images that come in a number of standard sizes and color resolutions. Most systems support icons of 16x16 to 128x128 pixels, while some platforms readily accept icons 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 operating system 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 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 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 employ standard icons of other resolutions, e.g. 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 provides royalty-free icons individually and in matching sets that include icons drawn a common style or theme.

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

Standard Software Icons Standard Software Icons is pack of eye-caching software-related icons specially created by experienced artists. This pack is a perfect selection for navigation panels and toolbars of any type.

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

Military Icon Set Variety of military icons from our Military Icon Set will make all your applications appear more modern and attractive. The graphics are delivered in PNG, GIF, BMP and ICO file formats.

Perfect Business Icons Refine your accounting or business- related application with instantly available quality Perfect Business Icons. Over two hundred of professionally designed and carefully crafted icons are provided.