Okay that’s 5 words.  Technically, 3.  But, I love collecting icons, and most of the time they come in sets.  I probably have somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 to 50 sets of icons that have anywhere from 4 to 60 icons a piece.  So a rough estimate is somewhere around 800 to 1,000 icons. Admittedly, many of these are the same icon in 3 or 4 different sizes, such as 28 x 28 pixels up to 256 x 256 pixels.  I have bookmarked almost all of them, so check them out.

So what do I do with all of them?  Well, I’ve started using them a lot in presentations.  As I’ve moved to more Presentations 2.0 and emphasizing visual literacy for memory, I’ve begun to use a lot more images — in particular, Flickr Creative Commons and icons to demonstrate ideas.  I even created presentation for Clif Mims using almost all icons.  And since I create quite a few web sites and web pages for courses and professional development that I conduct, I tend to use the icons on these pages as well.

Here is a couple of examples of wiki pages where I used icons from Vistaicons.com and Pasquale D’Silva.  I find that often with a quick site, the icon sets work well because they are all in the same theme, or flavor, and they bring a visual unity to the site with both message and colors.  Plus, if you feel like you don’t have the graphic design know-how to produce quality images, then these high-quality images are a far better cry than screen beans in Office.

City icons on course website

City icons on course website

Cute bird icons on course site

Cute bird icons on course site

Three Tips for Icons

Free is better
I always look for free icons and icon sets.  Free is the new 99 cents.  Sites where I often receive notices about icons are SitePoint, Function, and Smashing Magazine.  I encourage you to subscribe to the RSS feeds/email alerts if for nothing other than the icon alerts.

PNG is where it’s at
I always look for PNG file format.  I’ve found that these have the most flexibility in use for digital presentations and online with web sites.  So the PNG files work with Word, Powerpoint, Dreamweaver, and in PBWorks, too.

Often when looking to download the icon sets they are especially designed for use with your operating systems.  So that you can change the icons for Firefox, Photoshop, and iTunes.  Therefore you will often see them in three flavors: Windows, Mac, and Linux.  Almost always the Linux pack is the PNG pack to download.  You can, of course, download the others for your operating system, but to get the most liberal use of the graphics, don’t overlook the Linux link.

U gotta Readme
Finally, when I download, I always, always, always, look at the Readme file and/or the release statement.  Inside these files are the licensing requirements for using the graphics.  In many cases, the licensing/copyright statement requires that you provide a link back to the distributing site.  In many cases, the statement does not allow you to redistribute the graphics in any manner other than linking to the download page.  In about 50% of the cases, the statement does not allow you to use the graphics for commercial applications.  However, in probably close to 50% of the downloads, the designer has also packaged the Illustrator or Photoshop original files, so that you can alter the images to your liking.  This is the case with the super cute Twitter birds.  Pasquale D’Silva licensed them out for use and derivations at will.

In fact, here’s an example of where I used the original Photoshop (.psd) file to change the icon to suit a blog post I was writing about retweeting and reposting.  (Actually, I used Fireworks, and it all worked fine, too.)


If that’s not enough to get you going on icons, then over the next few posts, I’m going to share some of my favorite icons and icons sets.  So stay tuned, clear out some space on your hard drive, and get ready to “Save image as…”  But if you can wait, then go ahead and download them now.

Are you collecting graphics, icons, or other media?  Share them (and the links) below.  I’m always looking for new media to share.

4 Thoughts on “Icon sets. I have just 4 words for you: Fab-u-lous and free.

  1. Michael’s graphic design GREATLY enhanced the content of the Podstock presentation. Take a look at his expertise by viewing the slideshow at http://www.slideboom.com/presentations/63423/Using-Digital-Technologies-and-PLNs-to-Enhance-Learning or http://www.slideshare.net/clifmims/using-digital-technologies-and-plns-to-enhance-learning. I’m sure you’ll be as impressed as I was.

  2. Pingback: Viral-Notebook » Blog Archive » Icons I love. Fur and feathers.

  3. KGriffin (UUG) on September 28, 2009 at 8:14 pm said:

    I am a nearly retired secondary English teacher who is at last fulfilling a lifelong goal–my graduate degree. Along the way, I have discovered so many accessible teaching tools that can be integrated with technology. Even though I may be “way behind the times” technologically, I am just now becoming comfortable using Powerpoint presentations in my classroom. (Of course, it might also have something to do with the fact that I have just gained access to the necessary equipment as well, but that is another story for another time.) When I read the article you posted about “What Makes a Good Powerpoint Presentation” under the “Presentations 2.0” marker, I was surprised to learn that the author considered simplicity in the presentation a priority. However, when I thought about it, I had to agree because I have seen so many presentations that were too involved, too creative, or too confusing. Keeping the presentation/message simple seems like such a “simple” thing to do, but I have to agree that doing so is probably a more powerful way to get the message across.

  4. Pingback: Viral Notebook » More great icon sets!

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