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What Are Mac Icons?

Numerous independent vendors are providing custom icons in sizes and resolutions common 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 standard sizes that visually represent 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 developed 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 computer systems, learn quicker and interact more efficiently. Icons can be used to replace or supplement text messages. Commonly used in menus, toolbars, on buttons and in the latest ribbon-style user interfaces, icons have come a long way from the original concept.

There are multiple file formats for storing icons. Microsoft Windows systems store Windows icons in the platform-specific ICO format. Mac OS computers store 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 Apple systems, while Unix users can create their icons with just about any image editor.

Generally speaking, icons are square pictograms 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 icons as large as 512x512 pixels. The big 512x512 pixel icons were first employed in Mac OS Leopard.

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

Many independent vendors are providing custom icons. Aha-Soft offers a variety of Windows icons, Mac icons, and PNG icons in all sizes and resolutions common 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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Military Icon Set Plenty of military icons from our Military Icon Set will make your application's interface look more current and engaging. The graphics are provided in BMP, PNG, ICO and GIF file formats.

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

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

Large Toolbar Icons If you are looking for a contemporary and attractive design for you software toolbar, try using graphics in large sizes. Large Toolbar Icons collection from Aha-Soft is just what you need.

Security Software Icons Security Software Icons is a set of professionally-crafted stock icons for use in commercial and personal products, such as software, websites and presentations. The icons present a bright color palette, smooth and well-rounded edges.