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Standard Road Icons
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 Standard Road Icons

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Icon sizes: 256x256, 48x48, 32x32, 24x24, 20x20, 16x16
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What Are Icons?

A number of independent vendors are offering custom icons in sizes and resolutions common to certain systems. The article explains what icons are, how they are designed 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 pictures of standardized sizes that depict objects, actions, and other concepts. In graphical user interfaces, icons are used as a quicker, more intuitive way to communicate with the user. Icons depicting standard elements of a user interface are more visually appealing than text, can be recognized faster, and are easier for new computer users.

Originally developed in 1970 by the Xerox Research Center and widely popularized by the Mac OS and Microsoft Windows systems, icons make computer novices feel more comfortable with operating systems, learn quicker and work 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 file formats for storing icons. The Windows systems use Windows icons in the platform-specific 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 Mac OS platforms, while Unix users can create their icons with any graphic editor.

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

Pixel resolutions of all icons are platform 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 sizes of 16x16, 32x32, and 48x48 pixels. Windows Vista defines 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 platforms such as Windows Mobile can use 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 platforms. The company sells royalty-free icons individually and in matching sets incorporating icons drawn a common style or theme.

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Security Software Icons Security Software Icons is a library of wonderfully-crafted ready icons for use in business and private projects, including software applications, websites and desktops. The icons have a bright color palette, smooth and well-rounded edges.

Large Money Icons Large Money Icons is a collection of professionally drawn icons for use in any spftware or Web projects, such as software applications, websites, blogs and presentations. All the images have a bright color palette, and smooth edges.

Business Icon Set Business Icon Set. A collection of all-purpose icons with various symbols for the business environment for use with your software or on your website.

Standard Software Icons Standard Software Icons is set of colorful software-related icons carefully created by professional artists. This set is an ideal selection for navigation menus and toolbars of any type.

Hardware Icon Library The Icon Empire Hardware Icon Library is an ultimate collection of icons that illustrates most of the possible hardware-related project's needs in fantastic detail.