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 Standard Road Icons

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Icon sizes: 256x256, 48x48, 32x32, 24x24, 20x20, 16x16
File formats: ICO, GIF, PNG, BMP

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What Are Icons?

Numerous independent vendors are supplying custom icons in sizes and resolutions standard 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 depict objects, actions, and other concepts. In graphical user interfaces, icons are used as a faster, more intuitive way to communicate with the user. Icons representing typical elements of a user interface are more visually appealing 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 platforms, icons make new users feel more comfortable with operating systems, learn faster and work more efficiently. Icons can be used to replace or supplement text messages. Commonly 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 several graphic formats for storing icons. Microsoft 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 employ PNG icons for most applications. As such, icon editing software is generally available for the Windows and Apple systems, while Unix users can design PNG icons with any image editor.

Generally speaking, icons are square pictures that come in a number of standard sizes and color resolutions. Most systems support icon sizes of 16x16 to 128x128 pixels, while some systems readily accept icons as large as 512x512 pixels. The ultra-high definition 512x512 pixel icons were first employed in Mac OS Leopard.

Pixel dimensions of all icons are operating system dependent. For example, Windows icons are defined 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 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 images. Other systems such as Windows Mobile can employ standard icons of other resolutions, e.g. 24x24 pixels.

Many independent designers are providing custom icons. Aha-Soft offers a wide selection 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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Perfect Warehouse Icons If you are working on a sophisticated warehouse software or a Web project and cannot figure out how to solve the UI problem under a fixed deadline, try our Perfect Warehouse Icons pack!

16x16 Free Toolbar Icons 16x16 Free Toolbar Icons collection contains everything that are required for your web project or software toolbar.

24x24 Free Application Icons 24x24 Free Application Icons collection has everything that are required for your web site or application toolbar.

iPhone Style Social Icons iPhone Style Social Icons are created to work as a matching pack and share common properties like contemporary iPhone style and bright colors. iPhone Style Social Icons save your time and money being a great bargain.

E-mail Icon Set E-Mail Icon Set is a pack of wonderfully created royalty-free icons for use in commercial and personal products, such as software applications, websites, blogs and presentations.