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Image sizes: 256x256, 64x64, 48x48, 32x32, 24x24, 20x20, 16x16
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What Are Windows Icons?

Numerous independent vendors are supplying custom icons in sizes and resolutions common 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 incorporated into any graphical user interface. Icons are small pictograms of standardized resolutions 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 more visually appealing than text, can be recognized faster, and are certainly easier on the eyes.

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 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 multiple image formats for storing icons. The Windows systems use Windows icons in the platform-dependent 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 Apple platforms, while Unix users can design PNG icons with any image editor.

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

Pixel dimensions 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, 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 older versions of Windows and for lower resolution images. Other systems such as Windows Mobile can employ standard icons of other sizes, 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 common to those systems. The company provides 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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Classic Hardware Icon Set Hardware Icon Set is a collection of hardware-related icons in a traditional Windows style, available in BMP, GIF, PNG and ICO formats and 16x16, 24x24 and 32x32 sizes.

Large Weather Icons Large Weather Icons depict different weather conditions that are common for software, weather Web sites, and mobile gadgets. The icons come in typical sizes standard to Windows, Mac OS, and mobile platforms. The largest versions are huge 512x512 pixel images with vector sources in Adobe Illustrator (.ai) format easily affordable and ready to be printed or used in presentations in highest quality.

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

Standard Software Icons Standard Software Icons is pack of eye-caching software-related icons specially designed by professional artists. This set is an ideal choice for navigation menus and toolbars of any type.

Money Icon Set Money Icon Set is a pack of wonderfully-crafted icons for use in business and personal software and Web projects. Icons have a bright color palette, smooth and well-rounded edges.