Icons For Your Desktop and Icons For Your Web Designs

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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:

Icons for Your Desktop and Design Link

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.

Icons6

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.

Icons

File Icons7
Includes a total of 100 PNGs and 100 Icons.

Icons8

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.

Icons10

iLeopard Icons Pack
Special edition of iLeopard Icons Pack series. All Leopard icons available in 512*512 pixels with 96 dpi.

Icons

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.

Icons13
Icons14

Vista Style Ultimate IconPackager15
Includes new gray folders, updated Vista Sounds, and also new file icons. 19.7 Mb.

Icons16

Safari Icon17
This is a Pith Helmet for a real Safari user! Leopard ready, Jungle ready!

Icons18

BlackAqua Safari Icon19
Icns, png and ico – max 256x256px.

Icons20

Camino Icons21
A few icons for the Mac OSX super browser Camino, 5 colors and a retro look for your favorite browser.

Icons22

Hardwaremx23
7 icons in various sizes. For Mac and Windows.

Icons24

Square Compass25
128px, 256px and 512px in .png.

Icons26

iTweek’s icon sets27
A small selection of nice icon sets, among them the Skype icon, Ipod Nano and the Graphic Converter.

Icons28
Icons29

Apple Various Pack
A number of Apple icons bundled in a one single package.

Icons

Web Design Icons Link

Email Me Icons30
This icon set contains 11 icons in sizes 32×32 px, 48x48px, 128x128px, in .png format.

Screenshot - Freebies31

Jonas Rask’s Icons
Over 20 outstanding free icon sets for Win and Mac.

Icons
Icons

Rounder Icons32
43 rounded 128×128 .png-icons.

Screenshot - Freebies33

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.

Icons35

Orb Icon Set36
Inspirational icons.

Icons37
Icons38

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.

Icons40

Iconbase’s selection41
A growing selection of high quality icons for Windows and/or Mac.

Icons42
Icons43
Icons44
Icons45

Project Folders pack46
Project Folders Icons Pack set includes 4 PNG icons for Windows (XP and Vista).

Icons47

Free RSS Feed Icons48
We’ve covered dozens of RSS-Icons sets49 recently, however there are some sets we’ve missed. This one comes in 6 colors

Social Button50

More social icons
12 icons. PNG. Spanish.

Icons

51 RSS Button For Your Blog
Even more RSS-buttons & icons.

Icons

Social Bookmarks Iconset 251
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.

Icons52

Social Web Buttons – Set 153
20 Buttons released under a Creative Commons License

Social Button54
Social Button55
Social Button56
Social Button57

Ganato Free Icons58
Free PSD Icons (24 icon sets), among them a home set, plugin set, monitor set, application set, chart set and many more.

Screenshot - Freebies59

Web 2.0 Vector Icons-160 and Web 2.0 Vector Icons-261
Vector icons in one single .EPS-file. Very unfriendly download via rapidshare or depositfiles. these services are annoying.

Icons62

Free Icons for Web & Application Interface Systems63
140 PNG all free Icons. Icons come in 4 sizes. Here is a preview64. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Icons65

20 Free Sunny Buttons66
There is also a .PSD source.

Social Button67

Plastic Baggies Icons68

Screenshot69
Screenshot70

Blog-Micro-Buttons 71
80×15 pixels in 2 styles.

Social Button72

Pixelicious
150 icons mainly intended for developers. 32×32 pixel. Free for personal use or non profit organisations.

Social Button

Overall 400 mini icons (10×10 and 16×16) are available in the set of Set von Dapino73. The icons can be used royalty-free by Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license for any personal or commercial projects. PNG format.

Screenshot74

Firefox Icons Packs75
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.

Screenshot76
Screenshot77
Screenshot78

Ben has some free vector musical instruments79.

Screenshot - Freebies80

The same theme from Spoon Graphics: Live Music81.

Screenshot - Freebies82

Some clouds83. Look out for more stuff84.

Screenshot - Freebies85

40 Vector Icons for Apple Products86
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.

Screenshot - Freebies87

Dancing Girls88
Vector silhouettes of dancing ladies (*.eps).

Screenshot - Freebies89

Random Free Vectors – Part 13: Stars90
EPS or SVG from Bittbox.

Screenshot - Freebies91

Paper Doc Icons92
11 paper doc .icon & transparent .png 128 x 128 px

Screenshot93

Leopard Dock Designs94
Download your Apple Leopard dock design. There are 110+ design at this time on one singel page.

Screenshot95

Dockulicious96
Tired of the regular Mac OS 10.5 Leopard dock?

Screenshot97

References Link

You can find even more free icons in the

Footnotes Link

  1. 1 http://www.useit.com/papers/heuristic/heuristic_list.html
  2. 2 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2006/09/03/symbols-buttons-and-icons-for-free/
  3. 3 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2006/12/03/more-symbols-buttons-and-icons-for-free/
  4. 4 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/05/24/freebies-round-up-icons-buttons-and-templates/
  5. 5 http://flarup.deviantart.com/art/Air-Mail-70202261
  6. 6 http://flarup.deviantart.com/art/Air-Mail-70202261
  7. 7 http://www.jm-artstudio.com/comments/icons/file3.html
  8. 8 http://www.jm-artstudio.com/comments/icons/file3.html
  9. 9 http://aziznatour.deviantart.com/art/iZ3-Icons-Package-64076647
  10. 10 http://aziznatour.deviantart.com/art/iZ3-Icons-Package-64076647
  11. 11 http://decompositionbeauty.deviantart.com/art/White-Leopard-Icon-Set-UPDATE-69716925
  12. 12 http://decompositionbeauty.deviantart.com/art/Black-Leopard-Icon-Set-UPDATE-69590061
  13. 13 http://decompositionbeauty.deviantart.com/art/White-Leopard-Icon-Set-UPDATE-69716925
  14. 14 http://decompositionbeauty.deviantart.com/art/White-Leopard-Icon-Set-UPDATE-69716925
  15. 15 http://www.jm-artstudio.com/comments/iconpackages/ipvs2.html
  16. 16 http://www.jm-artstudio.com/comments/iconpackages/ipvs2.html
  17. 17 http://flarup.deviantart.com/art/Safari-Icon-69646306
  18. 18 http://flarup.deviantart.com/art/Safari-Icon-69646306
  19. 19 http://plexform.deviantart.com/art/Black-Aqua-Safari-68477034
  20. 20 http://plexform.deviantart.com/art/Black-Aqua-Safari-68477034
  21. 21 http://flarup.deviantart.com/art/Camino-Icons-55314733
  22. 22 http://flarup.deviantart.com/art/Camino-Icons-55314733
  23. 23 http://studiomx.eu/Icons.html
  24. 24 http://studiomx.eu/Icons.html
  25. 25 http://jet-stream.deviantart.com/art/Square-Compass-70705847
  26. 26 http://jet-stream.deviantart.com/art/Square-Compass-70705847
  27. 27 http://itweek.deviantart.com/gallery/#_featured
  28. 28 http://itweek.deviantart.com/gallery/#_featured
  29. 29 http://itweek.deviantart.com/gallery/#_featured
  30. 30 http://www.iconarchive.com/category/application/email-me-icons-by-mayosoft.html
  31. 31 http://www.iconarchive.com/category/application/email-me-icons-by-mayosoft.html
  32. 32 http://vicing.deviantart.com/art/rounder-png-65215412
  33. 33 http://vicing.deviantart.com/art/rounder-png-65215412
  34. 34 http://dryicons.com/free-icons/preview/aesthetica/
  35. 35 http://dryicons.com/free-icons/preview/aesthetica/
  36. 36 http://basstar.deviantart.com/art/Inspiration-Orb-Icon-Packet-65579465
  37. 37 http://basstar.deviantart.com/art/Inspiration-Orb-Icon-Packet-65579465
  38. 38 http://basstar.deviantart.com/art/Mystic-Orb-Icon-Packet-65571265
  39. 39 http://dryicons.com/free-icons/preview/wysiwyg-sapphire/
  40. 40 http://dryicons.com/free-icons/preview/wysiwyg-sapphire/
  41. 41 http://www.iconbase.com
  42. 42 http://iconbase.com/index.php?Formlink_Page=2&searchby=&search=#link
  43. 43 http://iconbase.com/index.php?Formlink_Page=3&searchby=&search=
  44. 44 http://iconbase.com/index.php?Formlink_Page=3&searchby=&search=
  45. 45 http://iconbase.com/index.php?Formlink_Page=3&searchby=&search=
  46. 46 http://murakumon.deviantart.com/art/Project-Folders-Pack-43594838
  47. 47 http://murakumon.deviantart.com/art/Project-Folders-Pack-43594838
  48. 48 http://www.nyssajbrown.net/2007/11/07/free-rss-feed-icons/
  49. 49 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/11/02/rss-best-design-practices-and-icons/
  50. 50 http://www.nyssajbrown.net/2007/11/07/free-rss-feed-icons/
  51. 51 http://vikiworks.com/2007/07/28/social-bookmark-iconset-part-2/
  52. 52 http://vikiworks.com/2007/07/28/social-bookmark-iconset-part-2/
  53. 53 http://www.webfruits.it/dblog/articolo.asp?articolo=62
  54. 54 http://www.webfruits.it/dblog/articolo.asp?articolo=62
  55. 55 http://www.webfruits.it/dblog/articolo.asp?articolo=62
  56. 56 http://www.webfruits.it/dblog/articolo.asp?articolo=62
  57. 57 http://www.webfruits.it/dblog/articolo.asp?articolo=62
  58. 58 http://www.ganato.com/free_icons/free_icons.php
  59. 59 http://www.ganato.com/free_icons/free_icons.php
  60. 60 http://dezignus.com/web2_0-vector-icons1/
  61. 61 http://dezignus.com/web2_0-vector-icons2/
  62. 62 http://dezignus.com/web2_0-vector-icons1/
  63. 63 http://www.userinterfaceicons.com/
  64. 64 http://www.userinterfaceicons.com/preview.php
  65. 65 http://www.userinterfaceicons.com/
  66. 66 http://www.flying-people.com/2007/10/10/20-free-sunny-buttons/
  67. 67 http://www.flying-people.com/2007/10/10/20-free-sunny-buttons/
  68. 68 http://www.dapino-webdesign.nl/blog/?p=160
  69. 69 http://www.dapino-webdesign.nl/blog/?p=160
  70. 70 http://www.dapino-webdesign.nl/blog/?p=160
  71. 71 http://kosmar.de/archives/2007/06/07/blog-micro-buttons-80px15px/
  72. 72 http://kosmar.de/archives/2007/06/07/blog-micro-buttons-80px15px/
  73. 73 http://www.dapino-webdesign.nl/blog/?p=148
  74. 74 http://www.dapino-webdesign.nl/blog/?p=148
  75. 75 http://iconpacks.mozdev.org/
  76. 76 http://iconpacks.mozdev.org/
  77. 77 http://iconpacks.mozdev.org/
  78. 78 http://iconpacks.mozdev.org/
  79. 79 http://benblogged.com/?p=74
  80. 80 http://benblogged.com/?p=74
  81. 81 http://www.blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/freebies/vector-resources-part-6-live-music
  82. 82 http://www.blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/freebies/vector-resources-part-6-live-music
  83. 83 http://benblogged.com/?p=54
  84. 84 http://benblogged.com/?cat=4
  85. 85 http://benblogged.com/?p=54
  86. 86 http://www.gosquared.com/liquidicity/archives/211
  87. 87 http://www.gosquared.com/liquidicity/archives/211
  88. 88 http://dezignus.com/dancing-girls/
  89. 89 http://dezignus.com/dancing-girls/
  90. 90 http://www.bittbox.com/freebies/random-free-vectors-part-13-stars/
  91. 91 http://www.bittbox.com/freebies/random-free-vectors-part-13-stars/
  92. 92 http://www.dapino-webdesign.nl/blog/?p=161
  93. 93 http://www.dapino-webdesign.nl/blog/?p=161
  94. 94 http://leoparddocks.com/
  95. 95 http://leoparddocks.com/
  96. 96 http://www.dockulicious.com/
  97. 97 http://www.dockulicious.com/
  98. 98 http://www.iconshock.com/vista-icons.php

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Sven is the co-founder and former CEO of Smashing Magazine. He's now writing at his Conterest Blog, where he focuses on blogs, content strategy and publishing — all in German.

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  1. 1

    Looking hot ^_^

    0
  2. 2

    Great resource!!

    0
  3. 3

    I loves me some icons!

    0
  4. 4

    Nice! Thanks!

    0
  5. 5

    God, I love Smashing Mag. :)

    0
  6. 6

    Wow, really nice collection!

    0
  7. 7

    Very cool collection. But, don’t forget everaldo :)

    0
  8. 8

    WoW :-O Another Smash :-)

    0
  9. 9

    Beautiful list – thanks alot :-)

    0
  10. 10

    very cool collection, well done sm :)

    0
  11. 11

    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.

    The icons you’ve listed are certainly pretty, but if your goal is usability, they’re not necessarily the best way to go.

    Jef Raskin noted: Icons contribute to [the] visual attractiveness of an interface and, under the appropriate circumstances, can contribute to clarity; however, the failings of icons have become clearer with time. … Instead of icons explaining, we have found that icons often require explanation. If you wanted to obscure or to encode an idea to keep it from prying eyes, substituting icons for the words might not be a bad start.”

    He continues: “In every study that considered the question, icons were demonstrated to be more difficult to understand than were labels, especially at first viewing, which contradicts one of the most frequently cited reasons for using icons, namely, comprehensibility for beginners.”

    I’m not saying the pictures that you show in this post aren’t pretty. They’re gorgeous. But it does a disservice to both designers and to users to promote icons as a means of “minimizing the user’s memory load.” In fact, icons only serve to increase it.

    0
  12. 12

    ur blog is excellent …. each and every blog is very informative.. a must read for developers.

    0
  13. 13

    Great sets of icons…I’ll use some of them to change the interface of my old WinXP. Thanks!

    0
  14. 14

    Yay, alot of my icon work from pixelresort.com featured in this post. What a great way to start off the weekend early. Should be fun to watch the traffic boost. =)

    Thanks for featuring my work again SM!

    0
  15. 15

    A note of caution about that “Dancing Girls” set above. That site posts stuff stolen off of iStockphoto and other places.

    0
  16. 16

    I love icons. They are like little pieces of candy. So much fun!

    0
  17. 17

    Hey, looks like you have forgotten famfamfam icons …
    http://www.famfamfam.com/

    Great pack of free web icons !!

    0
  18. 18

    Regarding Charlie Park above, I think it could be said that icons can make matters easier for the user. Specifically, standard icons — such as the RSS icon in its various incarnations — impart meaningful information to those users familiar with them, without cluttering the page with superfluous information. If I go to a page such as this one, and decide I want the feed, I look for that icon.

    Arbitrary icons ought to be treated as eye candy, but standardized ones can improve the user experience.

    0
  19. 19

    Most of them are not for commercial use – sadly. On my blog I posted a list of 33+ resources of icons free for commercial use – perhaps you find it useful. Apart of that the work you presented is very “eyecandy”. Thank you for the inspiring list.

    0
  20. 20

    Found that on recently on DeviantArt and love it in Combination with mozillas Prism application to use as my Icon for the google Reader… Check it out.

    T.

    0
  21. 21

    Nice collection! Thanks as always for sharing the love…

    0
  22. 22

    Where’s the silk icon set? Those are by far the best!
    http://www.famfamfam.com/lab/icons/silk/

    0
  23. 23

    Yeah I definitely agree with Troy! The silk icons set is awesome, has lots of icons and is free as well. I’ve seen it on a lot of websites and it should be included in this list!

    0
  24. 24

    Great collection! Thanks

    0
  25. 25

    Mind that the rapidshare hosted ‘Web 2.0’ vectors/ icons are not free and the author of the site hosting it is not the owner!

    0
  26. 26
  27. 27
  28. 28

    Nice. Many Thanks.

    0
  29. 29

    Thoroughly impressive!

    0
  30. 30

    Yet another great resource for web design. Definetly will become useful.

    0
  31. 31

    I am always impressed by the quality of a SM list, but I am particularly impressed by the depth and breath of their list. Anytime, they choose a topic for a list, you won’t be able to compete with you list. Its just impossible.

    0
  32. 32

    gr888888 Thanks

    0
  33. 33

    ..Or simply visit deviantART icons gallery.

    0
  34. 34

    http://www.leoparddocks.net we have some docks as well. Loving this post you can never have too many Icons

    0
  35. 35

    Hmm, isn’t the Angular Iconset a commercial product from Yellow Icon? They sell it for $249:
    http://www.yellowicon.com/stockicon/view/11/angular_stock_icons

    0
  36. 36

    The problem is to get these into your curtrent site with out looking like that were added at the last minute after everything else was designed.

    0
  37. 37

    Great list again…

    0
  38. 38

    some really gorgeous!

    0
  39. 39

    Another great list, again. This is a must-read for any developer our there!

    I felt good about myself when I found two icons sets on this list from dryicons.com because I just used their Aesthetica set on one of my back-end applications. It really is a great icons set and I love how they turned out on my application.

    Keep up the good work guys.

    0
  40. 40

    Goooo.. thisis is excelent…
    Very good input

    0
  41. 41

    Fnx! Nice icons!

    0
  42. 42

    Very good….Great list and cool …thanks friends ^_^

    0
  43. 43

    Great list! I wonder how do you find all these great ideas? Especially the “dancing ladies” in vectors…

    0
  44. 44

    Very cool. I would have to say IconBuffet.com is one of the best resources for free icon sets. Pick and choose a handful of premium quality sets to be delivered to you each month.

    Cheers, Mark Fulton

    0
  45. 45

    I liked to have a Black Coloured dark RSS icon. But i got disappointed :(

    0
  46. 46

    Thank you for this great collection of Icons! Great List!

    0
  47. 47

    Thank you very much, I will use it for redisigning

    0
  48. 48

    Smashing Mag still on top of them all. Great !

    0
  49. 49

    Hello my friend. Can you change “Dancing girls” link to new set of photoshop shapes? – http://dezignus.com/silhouettes-megaset/
    Because new set include that girls, and much… much more other silhouettes ;)

    0
  50. 50

    Angular: 90 Free Icons

    0

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