Sources of toolbar icons for your GUI applications

If you’re like me, you have had to deal with finding or drawing tons of toolbar icons over your programming career for all those GUI applications that require them. Sometimes you get lucky and you can cut’n’paste from a screen grab or get them from a previous project.

What happens, however, when you want to distribute an application ? Well, you can buy icon packs from companies that offer royalty-free licenses OR you can try to find open-source programs or icon sets that are freely available.

I’ve been working on an EDA (Electronics Design Automation) utility program in Java for the past while and I have had to search far and wide for good icons to use. While discussing with a colleague, I got some of his links to stashes of icons. I also downloaded the sources to The GIMP (GNU Image Manupulation Program) and looked at their icon set. During my searches, I have come-up with some interesting links to some great icon collections:

  • The Crystal Interaction Design Project by Everaldo Coelho. This is a very large collection (1300 icons from 16×16 to 256×256) of stylistically-related icons covering the gamut of application design requirements and targeted at the KDE Platform. I find they can be used in about any GUI project. Mini preview is available here.
  • The Silk icon collection by Mark James. This is a collection of 700 icons of 16×16 that also covers all aspects of general applications needs (toolbar actions, file types, table symbols). They have a very neat look and are freely usable under a Creative Commons attributions license. A full preview is available.
  • The Nuvola icon set by David Vignoni. This collection features more than 600 icons in many different sizes, most of them “toolbar-size” (16×16 and 22×22) PNGs. They have a very neat look and cover a lot of applications. Here is a preview screenshot for the set. Usage must follow the LGPL.
A lot of these icons are also linked from KDE-look, which is a website containing tons of open-source artwork for KDE. Since KDE applications use a theming system, most of the icon packages contain a variety of very useful toolbar icons encompassing text formatting, media players, clipboard operations, etc. I hope you will find these icons useful in your applications.

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