Icon libraries, at last

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Icon libraries, at last

Published by on March 18th 2008.

Support for .icl files is one of the bigger new features of the upcoming version of RealWorld Icon Editor. What more is there to say?

Controversy of .icl files

I have to admit, I do not consider icon libraries (.icl files) to be particularly useful. This is the main reason why RWIE did not support them in the past. A zip file usually does a better job for transferring files over the internet and individual .ico files on a local computer are just fine for both application developers and customizers. Additionally, no particular software is needed to examine and manage .ico files, a file manager is enough.

But, there seems to be people, who do not share my opinion and just love to create icon libraries. Well, the group of applications supporting .icl files is going to grow with the release of the next version or RW Icon Editor…


  • Open 16-bits and 32-bits icon libraries, save 32-bits ones (e.g. legacy 16-bits .icl files will be converted to the new format and will be usable on Vista and 64-bits systems).
  • Edit icons in the library directly (look at the screenshot). If you need more space for the library and less for the editor, just drag the splitter bar.
  • Change icon names and identifiers.
  • Save individual icons from a library.
  • Delete icons from library, copy/move icons between icon libraries using clipboard (multi-selection enabled).
  • Add icons to the library by creating them from scratch, by pasting them or by dragging and dropping .ico or .icl files on the window with list of icons in a library. Multiple files can be dropped at once.

Support for batch extraction of icons from libraries and other files was already mentioned in previous article.

Modifying an icon library in the editor


The .icl file is just a renamed .dll with a special resource block, RWIE will remove all other resources from the file. To customize an icon of an application without damaging the application, use the already available function (Main menu->Icon->Customize application icon) . That function uses native Windows functions and is safe to use with normal executable files.

As mentioned above, icon libraries have a single addition to an ordinary .dll file format and this is the ability to record names of icons. Unfortunately, this addition was not designed with international characters in mind. Since there is no specification regarding character encoding, I hereby publicly state, that RWIE will use UTF-8 encoding for icon names.


If you are an icon library fan, you are free to rejoice now. Beside the already mentioned functions, icon libraries can also be accessed from scripts, which makes RWIE the most flexible tool for .icl manipulation. It is possible to configure the editor to for example create previews of selected icons, save them, apply filter to all images, generate new image formats, etc. If you’d like to have these or another operations available by default, please leave a comment describing your needs.

Recent comments

user icon Anonymous
I wish there were...
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What about ICL files?
Vista & Win 7 icons