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What Are Mac Icons?

Numerous independent vendors are providing custom icons in sizes and resolutions standard to certain systems. The article explains what icons are, how they are used 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 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 representing common 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 popularized 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 commands. 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. The Windows systems store Windows icons in the platform-dependent ICO format. Mac OS systems store 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 Apple systems, while Unix users can create PNG icons with any image editor.

As a rule of thumb, icons are square pictograms that come in a variety of standard sizes and color resolutions. Most systems support icon sizes of 16x16 to 128x128 pixels, while some systems readily accept icon images as large as 512x512 pixels. The large 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 images in 16 and 256-color gammas as well as True Color pictures with alpha channel. Windows icons come 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, 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 previous versions of Windows and for lower resolution icons. Other platforms such as Windows Mobile can use standard icons of other resolutions, such as 24x24 pixels.

Many independent designers are providing custom icons. Aha-Soft offers a variety 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 that include icons drawn a common style or theme.

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Large Weather Icons Large Weather Icons represent different weather conditions typical in software, weather portals, and mobile gadgets. The images are supplied in typical resolutions standard to Windows, Mac OS, and other platforms. The largest versions are huge 512x512 pixel images with vector sources in Adobe Illustrator (.ai) format easily available and ready to be printed or used in presentations in highest quality.

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

Standard City Icons Design city maps that look flawless on screen and on paper. Standard City Icons come in a number of sizes and resolutions and in file formats of ICO, BMP, PNG and GIF.

Standard Software Icons Standard Software Icons is pack of eye-caching software-related icons carefully designed by experienced artists. This set is the best selection for navigation menus and toolbars of any type.

24x24 Free Button Icons 24x24 Free Button Icons library contains everything you need for your web project or application toolbar.