How to Get Collections of Free Icons

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Want to give your Windows desktop a distinctive touch? Or maybe you have a web page that needs some sprucing up. How about adding a new look with some icons that are different? Although Windows comes with a substantial assortment of icons (listed in this previous tip), many PC users want even more and developers and artists have obliged by providing very large collections of icons. Many of these are free and here are some places to find entire libraries of free icons.

  • Icon Archive  Huge collection of over 400,000 icons in many categories.  Generally free for non-commercial use but have various licensing conditions which typically require attribution.
  • Iconspedia  Another big collection
  • ProIcons  Over 2500 high quality free icons for Windows 7 and 8
  • Smashing Magazine  50 Free High-Quality Icon Sets from a variety of sources.  Mostly in PNG format.
  • Hongkiat.com  Over 70 free high quality icon sets mostly in PNG format for web use. 
  • Icons8  Icons for Windows 8 Metro

Icons come in a variety of sizes and formats. The icons that come with Windows and Windows programs are often bundled inside DLL and EXE files but downloaded icons are usually ICO, PNG, or sometimes vector formats like EPS or PSD files. For typical use in Windows, the most convenient format is the ICO file. Within Windows, ICO files can be used to change the icons for shortcuts and for folders. The details of the procedure are given in this article.

Free programs like IrfanView or Greenfish can be used to batch convert PNG files to ICO files. For use on websites or social pages PNG files are generally used. EPS and related vector files require vector editors. See this link for recommended free icon editors. 

Although they are free, icon packs may have licensing conditions. Be sure to check. Also, icon packs are sometimes used to hide malware so run a virus check on any icon files you decide to download.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.

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