IcoFX 1.6 is out

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IcoFX 1.6 is out

Published by on April 4th 2008.

New version of the popular freeware icon editor IcoFX was released this week. Let’s look at its new features and how does it compare to other similar applications.

The application can be downloaded from its homepage at: http://icofx.ro/
First impressions

Installation was quick and without problems, even on Vista. Everything worked fine and with no crashes, except for the controls for file association, which were grayed out, probably due to UAC.

You can open multiple icon files in the main editor window. There is also a couple of floating palette windows for color selection (nice one!), tool selection, preview and a file browser with file thumbnails. All the windows are simple and functional and people should have no trouble figuring out what each control does. A small inconvenience is the fact that the floating windows only float inside the main frame and if you try to resize the frame, the lower part of the floating windows may become invisible and they obscure the status bar.

IcoFX 1.6 modifying icons in an executable file

Features

Tools

The editor has all the commonly used tools and also two not-so-common tools for darkening/brightening and sharpening/softening parts of the icons. These may come handy for retouching of icons.

The application also supports a “Smooth edges” mode that applies to some tools, but instead of properly anti-aliasing the drawn shapes (as the majority of other icon editors do), IcoFX fakes it and just draws the border pixels with increased transparency, if you want smooth shapes, you’d better draw you pictures elsewhere. Another minor annoyance may be the fact that the application does not show the preview of the drawn shape for lines, rectangles or ellipses and only draws an outline, which does not help much. These shortcoming are only minor, because the tools in any currently available icon editor are not really powerful enough to be used to draw a professional icon from scratch anyway ( that may change in a few weeks or so ;-) ).

Filters

IcoFX supports all the basic color adjustments filters, rotation, a drop shadow effect, and a couple of other filters based on a 5×5 convolution matrix. Some of them are useful and for the other ones, well, at least they have an intriguing name. If a filter has options, there is a fixed-size preview window available.

Image->Icon

IcoFX supports basically 2 (or 3?) ways to convert images to icons. The first one offers a user interface to pick the region of the image to create icon from, but it only creates a single image format. The second one lets you create multiple formats in batch mode. The third way is something in between, you can create icon with multiple images from an image of an already opened icon (sounds confusing?).

Icon libraries

One of the new features of the 1.6 version is the ability to modify icons inside an executable file and create icon libraries. The functionality can be accessed from a context menu in the file explorer (create new icon libraries) or from the main menu, where you can modify existing icon libraries.

The application allows you to add/delete/replace individual icons from files. No drag and drop or another nifty feature available in some commercial alternatives, but that is no big deal. Icon names of ICL files are not supported as well, but again they are not really necessary.

Extras

IcoFX joins the group of application able to load Mac OS .icns files and also to save them. Good work.

To help get new uses started, there is a couple of tutorials available, which is not a common thing with freeware applications. Great work.

The application has an Explorer pane, which works as a permanently available open dialog with previews and with favorite folders. If you have the screen space to afford to have it permanently open (and you most likely do), it can save some clicks.

Summary

There is only a single freeware icon edit comparable to IcoFX and that is the Greenfish Icon Editor. Each of them has certain advantages and certain disadvantages. IcoFX supports Mac icons, can modify icons in an executable file and supports batch conversions. Greenfish IE supports image masks and has slightly better tools and filters. Choose for yourself. In any case, if you are a regular user of a freeware product, consider donating some money to the author, they have to eat too.

Recent comments

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