Software Review: IconUtils 1.4
Reviewed by: Frank Desiderio, Pinecrest Media
Source: Warwick Valley PC Users Group, June 2003
Recently we reviewed a
product from Aha-Soft,
called IconLover, which manages
your Windows icons, and
allows you to change some
built-in system icons.
Aha-Soft specializes in icon
software, with nearly 10 icon related
products. In this review
we'll discuss their IconUtils
suite, a collection of five
of their most popular products.
IconUtils contains the
tools you need to create and
edit cursors and icons, and to
manage cursor and icon libraries.
ArtCursors 3.0 & ArtIcons Pro 3.26
I found them easy to use and understand but
both of these programs' levels of editing abilities
go beyond my artistic skills and would be
well-suited for a professional graphic designer.
Icons are small graphics on your Desktop
that represent things like files, folders and
the Recycle Bin. A cursor is the graphic used
to represent the location of your mouse, keyboard
or other input device. Most of us are
familiar with the ‘arrow pointer' or ‘hand'
cursors. Since cursors can be loosely similar
in nature to icons, Aha-Soft has included
programs in this suite to create and manage
both of them.
With ArtCursors you can create and edit
static and animated cursors up to 16 million
colors, create and edit cursors for Windows
XP in 32-bit color depth with 8-bit alpha
channel. It can also import cursors from
.cur, .ani, .ico, .wmf, .emf, .bmp, .wbmp,
.jpg, .gif, .xbm, .xpm and .png files, and export
cursor images to .cur, .ico, .bmp, .jpg,
.gif, .png, .xbm, .xpm, .wbmp and .rc files,
with sizes up to 255x255. The powerful editing
tools allow you to modify images with
drop shadow, opacity, grayscale, colorize,
rotate, roll and mirror effects.
With ArtIcons you can also create and edit
icons in either standard or custom sizes up
to 16 million colors, and for Windows XP in
32-bit color depth with 8-bit alpha channel,
which makes for more visually-pleasing images.
It can also import/accept pasting of
.ico, .bmp, .jpg, .ani, .cur, .wmf and .png,
.gif, .psd, .xbm, .xpm and .wbmp images directly
into icons, and export to ico, .bmp,
.jpg, .cur, .png, .gif, .psd, .xbm, .xpm and
One nice feature is that it allows you to customize
Windows Desktop and folder icons.
And its powerful editing tools allow you to
modify images with smoothing and negative
I found them easy to use and understand
but both of these programs' levels of editing
abilities go beyond my artistic skills and
would be well-suited for a professional
graphic designer. As with their other icon
programs, a quick glance at the brief and
clearly-written help file should be all you
need to become comfortable with the programs.
Within a few minutes I was able to
create a simplistic ‘smiley face' cursor and
icon and apply them both to my Windows
Figure 1 shows the main window (identical
for both programs). From here you import,
export, create and modify cursors and icons.
Icon To Any 2.0 & Any To Icon 2.0
The two programs are very similar in concept
and have nearly identical interfaces. Icon To
Any converts Windows icons and cursors into
one or all of the following formats: .ico, .cur,
.bmp, .jpeg, .gif, .png, .psd, .tif, .xbm, .xpm,
.wbmp. Any To Icon performs the opposite
tasks, converting files of the following formats
into Windows icons: .bmp, .jpeg, .gif, .png,
.psd, .wmf, .wbmp, .xpm, .xbm and .cur. The
company claims it also can split icon libraries
into individual icons and extract icons from
folders and libraries and place them into the
directory of your choice.
Both programs allow for dragging and dropping
of individual files into the processing window,
or adding entire folder contents for batch processing.
Figure 2 shows the main interface window
(similar for both programs). From here you
can begin processing to icon or image format,
setting final file characteristics (figure 3).
This free product is an image viewer and converter.
It can browse images in thumbnail
mode or view images in full-screen mode. It
opens files of type .bmp, .jpg, .gif, .png, .ico,
.cur, .ani, .psd, .tga, .xbm, .xpm, .wmf, .wbmp,
and saves to .bmp, .png, or .jpg. It has a very
simple interface (figure 4), allowing you to see
image sizes, filetypes, even dimensions.
Beginners can use these programs. Although
some education about icons, graphic formats,
and basic design skills will be beneficial, they
are not a requirement.
IconUtils is a very powerful package of programs.
The quality seems good. It hasn't
crashed my XP system, and the design is simple,
straightforward and intelligible.
The company states that as an alternative to
using these programs on your own original artwork,
you can find public-use images on the
Internet and convert them to icons for use on
your Windows desktop, and likewise convert
your Windows icons to images for your personal
I applaud Aha-Soft for keeping their programs
simple and generally single-purpose, as opposed
to the ‘kitchen sink' approach of many
other software manufacturers. This leads to
less confusion on the users' part, and allows
them to save money, paying only for the
functionality they require.
IconUtils costs $54.95. The price may seem
steep for the average home user, but for the
graphics professional, it is a good value compared
to other image editing software. Overall,
I give these programs a 9 out of 10.
Frank Desiderio is the owner of Pinecrest Media, an
e-commerce consulting company. He has been
analyzing software and systems for 10 years. Contact
Frank at fdesiderio(@)pinecrestmedia.com.
Copyright © 2000-2017 Aha-Soft. All rights reserved.
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