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Warning:  I'm not a graphics artist nor do I pretend to be one.  I put this page together to help you the developer to get started with the basic concepts and some links I've found useful including software as suggested by fellow developers.

Basic concepts

For more reading see the Wikipedia article.  In particular review the links at the bottom of the article.    Also see Icons

  • The background must be set to transparent.
  • ICO files can have many different sizes of icons.  So build the largest icon size you need, get it looking good and save it as the next size down.   Then get that one looking good and save it as the next size down.   Windows 7 uses large icons on the desktop.  Windows XP basic desktop con size is 32x32.   Although the MSDN article Creating Windows XP Icons states you should start at 48x48.   


  • Icon Archive - 29,600+ free icons, buddy icons, xp icons, vista icons, desktop icons    Note that many are free but some are not free for commercial use.
  • IcoFX is a free icon editor used to create icons with transparency for Windows XP, Vista and Macintosh.
  • iICO editor downloadable as Visual Basic 6.0 source code.
  • Microangelo
  • IconWorkshop

I've been using Icon Edit  (a Component of Icon Suite) which is freeware. It's decent enough for someone of my very limited/non existent graphic skills. However it has one irritating feature which is that the transparent pixel feature isn't documented very well or at all. Also there is no way, that I know of, of telling it to make a specific background or colour transparent.

Thanks to the folks in the Microsoft NNTP newsgroups for their suggested links.

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