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What is an Icon Editor?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 17, 2024
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An icon editor is a type of computer software program that allows a user to open, edit, create, and save images to be used as icons for a variety of different applications. Though some more powerful image editing programs may allow icon editing to be performed as well, an icon editor will usually focus more on creating icons and may make the process easier, especially for untrained individuals. These programs can often be downloaded as freeware or a free trial for a commercial product, or may be part of a larger program that includes icons in the application and allows users to customize their interface through icon editing.

Icons are typically small images used to represent a number of different things in computer use. Some of the most common types of icons are those used by an operating system (OS) for a graphical user interface (GUI) such as a desktop. These icons are often used to represent various files or folders, usually with an image that is somehow tied to the function of the file or folder. For example, most types of OS include a “recycle bin” or “trash can” for files intended to be deleted. These usually use an icon of a recycling or garbage can to make visual recognition of the folder fast and easy.

An icon editor is a program that allows a user to edit and manipulate these types of small, graphical files. Some programs may be able to use different types of image files, such as JPEGs or bitmaps, as icons for use in different applications. Others may require specific file types, like .ico, to recognize the image for use as an icon. An icon editor will typically allow a user to open, alter, and save various types of graphical files, as well as the more specialized sorts of icon file types.

By using the icon editor, a user can create new icons or change existing ones to suit his or her needs. This can often be done for purely cosmetic reasons, like customizing a desktop to have images that are more immediately recognizable or useful to a particular user. Editing through an icon editor can also be done to make new icons for use in new programs or updated versions of existing programs. Some icon images can also be used on various websites, such as forums, as a small image to accompany a user’s profile on the site. The use of an icon editor can allow someone to create a unique or customized image, or avatar, on these types of sites.

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