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 ago1 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:
Air Mail Icons5 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.
Camera Icon 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.
File Icons7 Includes a total of 100 PNGs and 100 Icons.
iZ3 Icons9 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 Icons11, Black Leopard Icons12 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.
Aesthetica Icon Set34 “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.
WYSIWYG Sapphire Icons39 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.