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Posted 2 Jul 2016

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What Icon Sizes Are Used by Windows?

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4.95/5 (11 votes)
3 Jul 2016CPOL3 min read
An application to demonstrate the icon sizes used by Windows.

Introduction

While working on a Windows application recently, the question arose as to what size icons should be included with the application. We wanted the icons to be displayed without resizing. Resized icons tend to be fuzzier and less sharp looking than unresized icons.

The information was readily available via a number of sources, for example this posting on StackOverflow (http://stackoverflow.com/questions/3236115/which-icon-sizes-should-my-windows-applications-icon-include).

But I also wondered about the icon sizes used at different DPI Settings.  Does Windows use the same icon sizes with resizing, or are alternate sizes preferred?

To answer these questions, I wrote the IconSizes application. It includes an icon file with 249 images of every size from 8x8 to 256x256.  Each icon image is of its size (e.g. the 16x16 icon image is a "16").

Using the Application

The IconSizes_101_App.zip download includes just the IconSizes.exe application.

The IconSizes_101_Source.zip download includes the source for the IconSizes application, the 249 images used in the icon file, and the source for the BitmapsGen application used to generated the images.

Copy the IconSizes.exe file to any folder on your PC and see what icons are used by Windows. Each icon has its size as the image.  For example, the 30x30 and 48x48 icon images are:                                       

                             

Windows uses application icons in a variety of situations:

  • Desktop shortcut
  • Start menu
  • Taskbar (with small icons enabled)
  • Taskbar (with small icons not enabled)
  • Taskbar pop-up
  • Form control (upper left corner of the application window)
  • Task manager
  • Task switcher

Within Windows explorer, different icons may be required depending on the view mode:

  • Extra large icons
  • Large icons
  • Medium icons
  • Small icons
  • List
  • Details
  • Tile
  • Content

The icon sizes used by Windows in these situations at the standard resolutions are as follows. The icons are square, so a size of 32 is actually 32x32.  If the icon size is not available, Windows will pick the next closest image and resize as necessary.

  Smaller - 100% Medium - 125% Larger - 150%
Desktop shortcut 48 60 72
Start menu 32 40 48
Taskbar (small icons) 16 20 24
Taskbar (large icons) 32 40 48
Taskbar pop-up 16 20 24
Form control 16 20 24
Task manager 16 20 24
Task switcher 32 40 48
Explorer - Extra large icons 256 256 256
Explorer - Large icons 256 256 256
Explorer - Medium icons 48 60 72
Explorer - Small icons 16 20 24
Explorer - List 16 20 24
Explorer - Details 16 20 24
Explorer - Tiles 48 60 72
Explorer - Content 32 40 48

Selecting non-standard screen resolutions will change the icon sizes used by Windows. Almost any size is possible. For example, at the very unrealistic screen resolutions of 143% and 271%, the desktop shortcut icon sizes are 69 and 130, respectively.

Conclusions

A windows application should include the standard icon sizes 16, 32, 48 and 256.

If you want to cover all the standard resolutions, include the additional icon sizes 20, 24, 40, 60, and 72.

If you want to cover every possible resolution, include icons sizes 16, 17, 18, ...., 255, 256. Though I really don't think this is worth the effort. :-)

History

  • July 2, 2016 - First release.
  • July 3, 2016 - Fixed a bug in BitmapGen.

 

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Graham Wilson
Software Developer (Senior)
Canada Canada
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Member 1484436126-May-20 7:41
MemberMember 1484436126-May-20 7:41 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 Pin
Graham Wilson14-Oct-20 14:35
MemberGraham Wilson14-Oct-20 14:35 
QuestionAmazing! Could you describe how system get different icon when change view size in file explore Pin
arfken030915-Oct-19 16:54
Memberarfken030915-Oct-19 16:54 
BugNice, but ... Pin
RickZeeland2-Jul-16 20:26
mveRickZeeland2-Jul-16 20:26 
GeneralRe: Nice, but ... Pin
Graham Wilson3-Jul-16 2:52
MemberGraham Wilson3-Jul-16 2:52 
GeneralRe: Nice, but ... Pin
RickZeeland3-Jul-16 3:38
mveRickZeeland3-Jul-16 3:38 

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