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Standard Geo Icons
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What Are Icons?

Numerous independent vendors are supplying custom icons in sizes and resolutions common to certain computer platforms. The article explains what icons are, how they are designed and implemented in various systems, and what standards exist for Windows icons, Mac icons, and PNG icons.

Computer icons are an integral part of any modern GUI. Icons are small pictures of standard resolutions that visually represent objects, actions, and symbols. In graphical user interfaces, icons are used as a quicker, more intuitive way to communicate with the user. Icons depicting typical elements of a user interface are better visible than text, can be recognized faster, and are certainly easier on the eyes.

Originally introduced in 1970 by the Xerox Research Center and widely popularized by the Mac OS and Microsoft Windows systems, icons make new users feel more comfortable with computer systems, learn faster and work more efficiently. Icons can be used to replace or supplement text messages. Widely used in menus, toolbars, on buttons and in new 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 store Windows icons in the platform-dependent ICO format. Apple Macintosh computers use Mac icons in their specific formats, while Unix-based systems employ PNG icons for most applications. As such, icon editing software is generally available for the Windows and Mac OS platforms, while Unix users can design their 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 support icons of 16x16 to 128x128 pixels, while some platforms readily accept icon images as large as 512x512 pixels. The ultra-high definition 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 come in standard resolutions of 16x16, 32x32, and 48x48 pixels. Windows Vista defines new standards for Windows icons, including icons in resolutions 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 older versions of Windows and for lower resolution icons. Other platforms such as Windows Mobile can employ standard icons of other sizes, e.g. 24x24 pixels.

Many independent vendors are offering 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.

Other Icon Packs

Individual Ready Icons

You can buy individual icons to suit your needs. Each icon is $1 when purchased individually.

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Download Standard Geo Icons
People Icons for Vista People Icons for Vista illustrate people of various occupations, social and family roles. They are created in Vista style and are available with or without shadows. Icons are delivered in various formats and sizes.

Business Software Icons Business Software Icons presents a wonderful pack of XP-style graphics for accounting and similar software. The pack is of fine quality and encompasses the whole world of business.

16x16 Office Toolbar Icons 16 x 16 Office Toolbar Icons library has everything that are required for your word processing application.

Large Weather Icons Large Weather Icons depict a number of weather conditions typical in software, weather Web sites, and mobile gadgets. The icons come in typical sizes standard to Windows, Mac OS, and mobile platforms. The biggest 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 a variety of bright and colorful icons for database application development. The images are provided in all the common icon sizes and file formats include BMP, ICO, GIF and PNG.