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IconUtils Review

© by Bob LaFave, WebMaster boblala@ij.net
Source: www.tpcug.org/newsletter/nl_2003/april2003/icons.htm

IconUtils Review, April 2003

IconUtils is a software suite that includes the five separate programs that I will describe below. With IconUtils you can create your own unique icons and cursors or customize existing icons and cursors. You can also take images and convert them to icons or do the reverse and convert icons to graphics images. This gives you a unique look and feel so you can tailor your desktop icons and display various folders uniquely so that you can distinguish them at a glance. IconUtils is priced at $54.95 as a download from Aha-Soft at http://www.iconutils.com/.

AhaView is the first program listed in the start menu and would be $19.95 if ordered separately. AhaView is a picture viewer and converter that supports all popular graphics formats, including JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, ICO, CUR, ANI, WBMP, XPM, XBM, PSD. The viewer has a directory tree that you can scan to a folder that contains supported formats, a thumbnail section that displays all items found, and a small area below the directory that shows a highlighted item in a slightly larger view. You can browse images in thumbnail mode and do various graphics manipulations such as Copy, Rename, Delete, Convert and more. You can then double click any image and go to a full screen view of any picture, and if needed you can browse the other files in the folder as a slide show. I found it easy to use since it is very similar to both ACDSee and IrfanView, which I have used in the past but liked that these five programs in IconUtils together take up very little space, 7.70 MB compared to ACDSee taking up 6.71MB and IrfanView 5.39MB. I also believe it displays it's thumbnails faster when large quantities of graphics, icon, or cursor files are viewed.

Any to Icon is the next program and is also listed at $19.95 online as a download. Any to Icon is an icon converter that allows you to convert BMP, JPEG, GIF, PNG, WBMP, XPM, XBM, PSD and WMF images to Windows icons. You can convert single graphics or you can batch process all files in a folder and can break down entire icon libraries into individual icons. Icons can be extracted from libraries and some file types such as exe, DLLs, cpl, and more. The program is similar to a wizard in that you progress from selecting the graphics or library and point and click till you create the final desired icons. As you progress you are given the choice to change color resolution and size to create your customized icons.

ArtCursors is the next program in the start menu folder and is available as a single download for $29.95. ArtCursors is a cursor editor, cursor library manager, and cursor creator. You can find and edit single cursors or you can import, export, manage and create cursor libraries. Libraries are multiple cursors contained in a single file name and allow simple file storage. ArtCursors can create and edit static and animated cursors with color depths to up to 32-bit True Color, and you have different paint tools, including gradient fills, to customize to your hearts content. You can also convert graphics images to cursors and import cursors from icon and library files. This program workplace is set as a grid canvas that allows for easy creation or customization of cursors. I was able to create a simple arrow pointer in minutes.

ArtIcons Pro is next and can be purchased separately online as a download for $29.95. ArtIcons Pro is an icon editor and icon library manager that does for icons what ArtCursors does for cursors. You can find, create and edit icons or import and export icons, both single icons and libraries. As with the cursors, you can also import, export, create and manage icon libraries. The icons that you create or edit can be of variable size and color depths up to 32-bit True Color, and it supports the new icon format in Windows XP. The tools are much the same as in ArtCursors with the same toolbars showing each tool name as you hover your mouse over each tool, and you can change effects, such as rotation gradient and fill. You can convert graphics images to icons and import icons from cursor files or from library files. You can scan files and folders for icons and arrange icons into libraries.

Icon to Any is the last included program and is $19.95 if you wish to purchase it separately as a download. This program is pretty much the reverse of Any to Icon that is described above. Icon to Any starts with Windows icons and cursors and converts them into graphics images, either BMP, JPG, PNG, GIF, ICO, CUR, WBMP, PSD, XPM, XBM and RC formats. It also has a wizard style interface, and it's very simple to process multiple files at once, plus you have control over size and color (again True Color 32-bit) and pick in which format to save it.

The online site had a FREE download page with icons, cursors, and graphics to download. There are Libraries Samples so that you can figure out what they are. You can also order specialized icons from them of your own design, but I think that with these five programs and a little bit of time most users will be amazed at what you can create on your own. I have no artistic abilities and easily customized and created icons and cursors. Overall, I found each program easy to use, the HELP sections explained each process I tried and did so quickly. I had no problems downloading or installing IconUtils or figuring how to begin each operation. Each is similar to other programs I have used over the years and most users will be comfortable with these programs. If you like to individualize your computer then this would probably be just the program you would need and would enjoy using.

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