The value of icons lies in their ability to communicate with visitors or users in a more intuitive and effective way. Jakob Nielsen, the maestro of usability, postulated few years ago that “recognition rather than recall” is one of the basic heuristics for user-friendly design. In fact, it’s necessary to “minimize the user’s memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate.”
Icons are supposed to achieve just that. And this is why it’s useful to actually use them both on your desktop and in your web design. They can reduce the complexity of the design and make it easier to get from point A to point B.
In the overview below we present some of the fresh high-quality free icons which you can use for your desktop; we also showcase free professional icon sets, buttons and vector graphics you can use for your web designs. You might know some of them, but hopefully not all of them. Not all listed freebies can be used for commercial projects, however you can use all of them in your private projects of for you personal purposes. Please read the disclaimers carefully before using the icons – they’re changing from time to time.
You can also scan through the icons-related articles we’ve published before:
- Symbols, Buttons and Icons For Free
- More Symbols, Buttons and Icons
- Freebies Round-Up: Icons, Buttons and Templates
Icons for Your Desktop and Design
Air Mail Icons
A replacement icon for Apple Mail or any other Mail application. An old school Air Mail Envelope for that ‘old worldish’ quality that seems to have been forgotten in our inbox filled, electronicly busy everyday lives. 32x32px – 512×512 px icon for Mac and PC.
Replacement icon for Iphoto, Aperture or any other photo application. 2 icons included: a colorful lens for the frivolous and a sligthly more down to earth version. Mac & PC icons + PNG’s bundled.
Includes a total of 100 PNGs and 100 Icons.
The package contains 20 different icons for Windows XP & Vista, 7 different colors, 256×256 Pixel PNG previews, 256×256 ico formats for XP & Vista.
iLeopard Icons Pack
Special edition of iLeopard Icons Pack series. All Leopard icons available in 512*512 pixels with 96 dpi.
White Leopard Icons, Black Leopard Icons
This icon set for Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) contains 19 folder icons in both .icns- and .png-format (128×128 and 512x512px). Every folder icon (such as applications, music, movies etc.) will be replaced by adding these icons to your system.
Vista Style Ultimate IconPackager
Includes new gray folders, updated Vista Sounds, and also new file icons. 19.7 Mb.
This is a Pith Helmet for a real Safari user! Leopard ready, Jungle ready!
BlackAqua Safari Icon
Icns, png and ico – max 256x256px.
A few icons for the Mac OSX super browser Camino, 5 colors and a retro look for your favorite browser.
7 icons in various sizes. For Mac and Windows.
128px, 256px and 512px in .png.
iTweek’s icon sets
A small selection of nice icon sets, among them the Skype icon, Ipod Nano and the Graphic Converter.
Apple Various Pack
A number of Apple icons bundled in a one single package.
Web Design Icons
Email Me Icons
This icon set contains 11 icons in sizes 32×32 px, 48x48px, 128x128px, in .png format.
Jonas Rask’s Icons
Over 20 outstanding free icon sets for Win and Mac.
43 rounded 128×128 .png-icons.>
Aesthetica Icon Set
“Aesthetica” Icon Set was created to lend visual excitement to your projects. This set is fresh, stylish and modern, all mixed up in the perfect proportions. This set contains the following icons in 32-bit transparency PNG and Photoshop’s PSD.
Orb Icon Set
WYSIWYG Sapphire Icons
This icon set, as the name indicates, can find its use wherever you might need WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editing or similar actions in your applications. The WYSIWYG Sapphire Icon Set is a part of the DryIcons’ WYSIWYG sequence icon sets, the name is inspired by its specific tone colors giving it an unique ‘sapphire’ look.
A growing selection of high quality icons for Windows and/or Mac.
Project Folders pack
Project Folders Icons Pack set includes 4 PNG icons for Windows (XP and Vista).
More social icons
12 icons. PNG. Spanish.
51 RSS Button For Your Blog
Even more RSS-buttons & icons.
Social Bookmarks Iconset 2
This set includes icons for Furl, Windows live, Blinklist, Blogger, Lifelogger etc. All icons are sized to 64*64 in PNG format and it’s great to use them on your website or blog.
Social Web Buttons – Set 1
20 Buttons released under a Creative Commons License
Ganato Free Icons
Free PSD Icons (24 icon sets), among them a home set, plugin set, monitor set, application set, chart set and many more.>
Free Icons for Web & Application Interface Systems
140 PNG all free Icons. Icons come in 4 sizes. Here is a preview. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
20 Free Sunny Buttons
There is also a .PSD source.
80×15 pixels in 2 styles.
150 icons mainly intended for developers. 32×32 pixel. Free for personal use or non profit organisations.
Overall 400 mini icons (10×10 and 16×16) are available in the set of Set von Dapino. The icons can be used royalty-free by Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license for any personal or commercial projects. PNG format.
Firefox Icons Packs
A collection of icons related to various Firefox-project. In most cases the quality is much better than you might think at the first glance. Experimental designs are also available.
Ben has some free vector musical instruments.
The same theme from Spoon Graphics: Live Music.
40 Vector Icons for Apple Products
So here is something to keep you ticking over: a sample of vector icons of all your favourite (or perhaps most hated) Apple products, from iPods and iPhone to iMacs and the Apple Remote.
Vector silhouettes of dancing ladies (*.eps).
Random Free Vectors – Part 13: Stars
EPS or SVG from Bittbox.
Paper Doc Icons
11 paper doc .icon & transparent .png 128 x 128 px
Leopard Dock Designs
Download your Apple Leopard dock design. There are 110+ design at this time on one singel page.
Tired of the regular Mac OS 10.5 Leopard dock?
You can find even more free icons in the
- IconShock.com Freebies
A free icons forum where users share their findings and works.