Tag Archives: icons

The one Adobe Photoshop plugin you should absolutely be using

FlatIcon for Photoshop
I’ve tried a LOT of Photoshop plugins. They all have their specific uses, and many of them are worthy of your purchase. But few are as useful on a daily basis as this one.

FlatIcon is a plugin for Photoshop CS5 and later that places a new panel in Photoshop that allows you to search for, and place in your document, vector icons from a collection of over 41,000. Best of all, they’re free. And because they’re vector shapes, you can resize and edit them without losing quality.

To use FlatIcon, visit Window > Extensions > Flaticon to bring up the panel. Then you simply search for the icon you wish to use, click and drag it to your document, and start editing it as you would any other vector shape in Photoshop. It couldn’t be easier.

FlatIcon is a plugin many designers, particularly web designers, will use daily. For me, having a collection of arrows and typical web elements is worth the install alone.

FlatIcon is free, works with Adobe Photoshop CS5, CS6 and CC. You can download FlatIcon here.

By the way, if Photoshop plugins aren’t your thing, you can also download the icons individually from FlatIcon as a PNG, SVG (vector) or Webfont from the main site.

Free font: Pictonic Cube

Pictonic font

Pictonic Cube is a free icon font set that includes the most useful UI elements for your user interface design projects. As a font, it’s very flexible. For example, you can manipulate the icons with CSS properties (e.g. color, size, shadow, etc.). The font files include EOT, SVG, SVGZ, TTF and WOFF. If you want to edit the icons, SVG files (editable in Adobe Illustrator) are also provided for all icons.

OS X and Mac App Store signals the death of desktop customization

Back in the day of Mac OS 7, 8 and 9, Apple didn’t make it too terribly difficult to customize the OS with themes and custom icons. Theming your desktop was so popular that it was nearly its own sub-culture. Theming websites sprout up almost weekly, offering window themes, icons, and other theming items. There were literally thousands of options. But that all changed when Apple released Mac OS X.

Candybar

Mac OS X was a top-to-bottom change to the system architecture, and theming was infinitely more difficult. It took a long time before creative developers figured out a way to bring customization to OS X. There were themes, if only a few dozen, and of course you could still customize icons. But it was never to the extent that you could in Mac OS 9.

Eventually (I don’t remember if it was OS 10.4 or 10.5), theming became nearly impossible. But when Apple released the Mac App Store, customizing your Mac desktop all but died. Because of the code signing of all apps sold through the Mac App Store, altering files contained in individual apps (such as icons) rendered them either useless, or at the very least prevented you from updating them in the Mac App Store.

Between code signing, recently implemented Sandboxing rules, and the release of OS X Mountain Lion (which prevents theming of the Dock), it’s all but a dead art. If you need any more evidence, Panic Software recently announced they were sunsetting their icon customization tool, CandyBar. For many years, CandyBar was the gold-standard of customizing icons. Thankfully, Panic made CandyBar freely downloadable, and updated it for Mountain Lion. For those like me who used CandyBar for it’s icon collection organizing feature, and the ability to quickly and easily export app icons as PNG images with transparency intact, the fact that it still works is a bit of relief. But it’s future is most decidedly in doubt. It surely won’t be long before it can no longer customize System icons.

It’s sad to see theming and customization fade off into the sunset. But to be honest, Apple has improved the appearance of the OS to the point where even the most avid themed simply preferred the clean look of the standard theme. And right now, you can get an absolutely fantastic icon customizing and organizing app for free.