Those are programs that you can use on design time of your icon:
- Lazarus Image Editor Open source and written in Lazarus
- LazPaint Open source and written in Lazarus
- Greenfish Icon Editor Pro Freeware
- GIMP Open source
- Inkscape Open source
With LazPaint, GIMP, Inkscape or the application you want design the icon. With Lazarus Image Editor or Greenfish Icon Editor Pro save as .ico format.
The default set contains the icon sizes that work in Windows in a DPI setting of 96 (100% - Default).
- 16x16: Displayed on the task bar, lists and headers
- 32x32: Displayed on the desktop, control panel
- 48x48: Displayed in Explorer when thumbnail or titles view is selected
- 256x256: Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 only
- 512x512, 768x768: Windows 10 only, used for high resolution displays
16x16: This is used for Windows Explorer "Detail view", "List view", "Small icons", it is the application icon in a window and the icon in the notification area.
32x32: This is used for Windows Explorer "Content view", desktop "Small icons", application icon in taskbar and start menu icons.
48x48: This is used for Windows Explorer "Mosaic view", "Medium size icon" and desktop "Medium size icon".
256x256: This is used for Windows Explorer "Big icons" and desktop "Big icons".
Also the 256x256 icon is scaled, depending of the OS needs, to intermediate sizes between 48x48 and 256x256.
The default set is for 96 DPI, but if you are running in High DPI you need bigger icons, scaled depending on the DPI setting.
120 DPI (125%):
- 16x16 > 20x20
- 32x32 > 40x40
- 48x48 > 60x60
144 DPI (150%):
- 16x16 > 24x24
- 32x32 > 48x48
- 48x48 > 72x72
192 DPI (200%):
- 16x16 > 32x32
- 32x32 > 64x64
- 48x48 > 96x96
The most used High DPI settings are 120 & 144. If you want quality icons in High DPI you must include in your set:
16x16 ; 32x32 ; 48x48 ; 256x256 // Default set 96 DPI 20x20 ; 40x40 ; 60x60 // Additional used in 120 DPI 24x24 ; 72x72 // Additional used in 144 DPI
If you include only the default set your image icons will be scaled by the OS to the needed size but loss of quality will occur.
Image: icon set comparison in High DPI.
Top: full icon set for High DPI. Quality icon.
Bottom: icon set for 96 DPI. Pixelated icon.
- MSDN Icons Design Concepts and Guidelines.
(Note: in this MSDN article some things may differ to those explained in this article which was written based on tests in Windows 7, not Vista).