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What is ICO?

Image Format Description

ICO is the file extension for the Microsoft Windows icon image file format. It is used to store icons for Windows programs, files, and folders.

Different operating systems have different icon formats as they like to use their own. Consequently, Microsoft Windows uses its ICO format for its icons. These icons are the ones that are used for displaying various programs and the small website images that are seen on the browser.

The icon file can contain more than one image, each of a different size or color depth. The sizes and color depths that an icon file can contain are: 16x16 pixels, 4-bit color; 16x16 pixels, 8-bit color; 16x16 pixels 32-bit color; 32x32 pixels, 4-bit color; 32x32 pixels, 8-bit color; 32x32 pixels, 32-bit color; 48x48 pixels, 4-bit color; 48x48 pixels, 8-bit color; and 48x48 pixels, 32-bit color. Windows Vista supports these additional ones: 256x256 pixels, 4-bit color, PNG compressed; 256x256, 8-bit color, PNG compressed; and 256x256, 32-bit color, PNG compressed. Since the 256x256 pixel size is large, the icon files of this size are stored in the ICO file in PNG format in order to reduce the size of the file.

The icon image data consists of two bitmaps the AND bitmap (this is first applied to determine which part of the image is transparent), and XOR bitmap (this contains the icon and is applied later onto the AND bitmap to allow for transparencies in the image). But the PNG format of Windows Vista 256x256 pixels, does not contain the AND and the XOR bitmaps. It encodes the image transparency data directly.

ICO files can be opened and converted to other formats with Factory Image Converter.

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Wit of the day

Bad art is a great deal worse than no art at all.
Oscar Wilde