IcoFX

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IcoFX is an advanced icon creation and editing program that offers a full range of tools and effects for icon manipulation.

It can handle a wide range of data types, color modes, resolutions, and image/icon formats.

IcoFX is an impressive program; the tools that are available for image manipulation and the various effects and editing options rival those of a sophisticated bitmap editor/paint program.

Which is not to say that it is an overly complicated program; in fact, it is remarkably straightforward. Here’s what you need to know about this program.

icofx

  • Useability: simple yet highly functional. Zoom up to 1000% for precision editing, switch grid off/on. Sidebar contains all different icon size incarnations for easy switching and access. Most importantly, allows multiple undos (yes, you can trace your work all the way back to the point before you messed everything up).
  • Images to icons: IcoFX can do batch image to icon conversions (supports BMP, JPG, PNG, and GIF image formats). Unlike Imagicon, another program that I reviewed recently, IcoFX will create individual icon files that contain multiple icon sizes. You can also export images if you like (including transparencies).
  • Icon Extraction: point IcoFX to an EXE file or icon DLL library and it can extract any available icons (including Vista icons). It can do this individually or in batches of files/icons.
  • Capture icons: just tell IcoFX the icon size you want, and the capture tool will allow you to ’snap’ any area on your screen and edit is/use it as an icon.
  • Editing Tools: in addition to the default tools that you would expect, this program includes tools such as an opacity tool, a gradient tool, and a blur/sharpen tool. Other editing option include flipping and rotating (including free rotation), brightness/contrast manipulation, color balance manipulation through sliders, opacity, fadeout, and shadow. You can also change the dimensions of the icon you are working with.
  • Effects: supports more than 40 effects, including multiple embossing, sharpening, blurring and edge effects. The drop shadow effect in particular is a nice one.
  • Custom effect creation: IcoFX allows you to create own custom effect if you want. This is done through entering values in a 5×5 table/grid, but I was not able to find any satisfying documentation as to how to best do this. The keys to doing this well, therefore, seem to be (a) experimentation, and (b) loading up pre-existing filters and changing the existing values for those. This is an interesting and powerful feature but I do not foresee it to be useful for most people.
  • Icon types supported: All Windows Icons including XP and Vista (256×256). Supported data types: 2, 16, 256, True Color, True Color + Alpha (transparency) channel. Vista icons with PNG compression also supported. RGB and HSB color modes supported.

My wish list (actually just one item): the ability to import Mac (ICNS) icons, a function that I’ve been looking for for some time now.

The verdict: I’ve tried a number of icon editing applications previously but was never compelled to feature them on Freewaregenius; IcoFX is without a doubt one of the best icon editors out there. It is also the best program for converting images to icons that I’ve come cross. (And its 100% free; what are you waiting for, get it now).

Version tested: 1.5.01

Compatibility: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista.

This program is no longer freeware, but you can download the last freeware version (1.6.4) here.