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Dieter Petereit January 16th, 2014

Brandnew App for Mac OS: 2,800 Free Icons for Designers

The name Ivan Boyko will sound familiar to quite a few designers out there. He is the creative head behind icons8. The website by the same name offers 2,800 icons to download for free. 1,600 of them are designed following the design style of Windows 8, while the other 1,200 fit into the version 7 redesign of iOS. Today, Boyko added a way to access his icon sets even more easily. A brand-new and also free app can be downloaded from the Mac App Store. This app brings all the icons right to your desktop…


icons8: 2,800 Timely Icons in PNG Format

Did you notice? The web site icons8 has more than 2,800 icons as a completely free download for you. The 2,800 symbols are divided into two sets, one sporting the design of Windows 8, the other shining in iOS 7 style. The web site lets you decide whether you only want to download one, a handful of icons or the whole sets altogether. If you want to download whole sets in one go, you’ll need to tell icons8 a valid email address to which the download link will be sent. Boyko promises to send you some free vector icons time and again, while promising not to spam you otherwise.

Individual icons are available directly, without the need for entering your email address. Simply use the search function, tell icons8 if you want to search in either one of the sets or spanned over both and hit Enter. The search results page will show a grid with the fitting results. You are able to adjust the grid to show icon previews in up to 62 px squared. Don’t mistake that with the download size.

After having chosen your icon by clicking on it, you are taken to the detail page. From here you can download the icon without further ado. The download comes as a zipped package containing the chosen icon in resolutions of 25, 32, 50, 75, 100, 128, 256 and 512 pixels squared.

Generally each of the icons is available as editable vector format (and some others), too. Bummer is, that the vector formats, namely AI, EPS and SVG are not free, but require you to decide to buy one of several licences. Prices vary from 20 dollars for a single icon up to 250 dollars for a complete set with vector files and an update guarantee for one year in advance. The latter means you will be provided with all icons that are to be released in the time span of twelve months from the date of purchase. Boyko estimates to release about 1,000 more icons in that period..

Let’s sum it up: Only the PNG are free and available in sizes from 32 to 512 pixels squared. You are entitled to use them freely in private and commercials projects alike. Precondition is that you stick to the licensing. If you want to use the icons in web projects proper attribution with a backlink to icons8 is required. The best way to do that i putting a link in the footer of the website that uses the icons, e.g. like this “Icons created by icons8”.

icons8 as Mac OS App

It’s a mere few hours that the brand-new Mac OS app of icons8 saw the light of the Mac App Store. You’ll need at least OS X 10.8 to be able to use the icons8 app.

Once started, the app resides in the status bar. Clicking its icon opens a small window topped by a search bar. Icons are internally organized using tags, what makes it extremely easy to search and find relevant symbols via their context. You need not meet the file name as closely as possibly. Instead you search freely by context. All the content is thoroughly tagged. You’ll see that it is extremely easy to find what you’re actually looking for.


Similar to the web service, you decide whether the search spans all icons or only one of the two sets. The search engine will be presented in 50 px max. Make sure to select the proper resolution for download in the selection field above the grid.

Using an icon is intuitive. Simply drag the symbol from the search results grid to your application, be it Photoshop or others. Right-clicking the icon and choosing Copy does the same job. That’s about it. If you want to load the icons8 app during boot to have it at hand immediately, configure that in preferences.

The following video explains the procedure in moving images:


All pictograms are on your local drive, stored in the user’s directory under the not so memorable path

Good to know, that you don’t need an internet connection to use the tool.

Using the icons via their app is subject to the same licensing conditions already stated above. What the Mac app doesn’t offer, is the possibility to buy and use vector files from inside it. Downloading whole sets is also not possible.

To sum it all up: The app makes the design workflow faster compared to downloading from the web site, unzipping and what not. Even if you need vector formats in the end product, why not speed up prototyping by working with one of the many PNG resolutions? As the whole feature set is available for not a penny, there is not much to hold against it. So, give it a try, if you are on a recent enough Mac OS…

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Dieter Petereit

Dieter Petereit is a veteran of the web with over 25 years of experience in the world of IT. As soon as Netscape became available he started to do what already at that time was called web design and has carried on ever since. Two decades ago he started writing for several online publications, some well, some lesser known. You can meet him over on Google+.


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