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How to Extract High Quality Icons from Application Files

00_becyicongrabber_window

If you need to extract an icon from a program file or other type of file (such as .dll files), there are many free tools available that make the task easy. However, very few will extract high quality icon images from the files.

Most free icon extraction tools will extract smaller icon image sizes, such as 16×16, 32×32, or 48×48 pixels. Some icons come in larger sizes, such as icons used in Windows. There is a free, small utility, called BeCyIconGrabber, that allows you to view and save icons and cursors of any size contained in .exe, .dll, .icl, .ocx, .cpl, .src, .ico, and .cur files. You can save the extracted icons individually as a .png file, .bmp file, .ico file, or .cur file, or in groups within resource libraries, i.e., .dll or .icl files.

BeCyIconGrabber can be downloaded as an installable file or as a portable executable that does not need to be installed. We downloaded the portable file.

01_downloading_portable_version

Double-click on the installer file and follow the installation instructions and then run the program, or double-click on the portable .exe file to run the program.

02_running_becyicongrabber

There are three tabs on the left side of the BeCyIconGrabber window. Use the Directory tab to select a file from which to extract one or more icons. Use the Search tab to find all icons in a selected directory, and possibly its subdirectories. Use the Favorites tab to “bookmark” files you need to access often.

As an example of extracting icons from a single file, we will select the Internet Explorer executable (.exe) file from which we will extract a large icon. Double-click on the Local Disk (C:) drive on the Directory tab.

03_selecting_drive

Navigate to the following directory and select the iexplore.exe file.

C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer

Tabs display on the right side of the BeCyIconGrabber window for the different sizes of icons available in the selected file.

NOTE: You don’t necessarily have to select files that contain icons. If you select a file without icons, BeCyIconGrabber automatically extracts the icons from the executable file for the program associated with the selected file.

04_selecting_program_file

Internet Explorer has some large, 256 x 256, icons in its executable file. To extract one of these icons, click the 256 x 256 tab and click Save at the bottom of the window.

05_clicking_save_for_icon

The Save As dialog box displays. All available icons in the selected file are displayed in the Format box. By default, Icon Files (*.ico) is selected in the Save as type drop-down list and all the icons in the file are selected. If you want to save all the icons in the Format box into one file, you must select either the .ico type or the .cur type. If you select .png or .bmp as the type, you must select only one icon to save in the Format box.

06_save_as_dialog_all_formats_selected

To save only a 256 x 256 icon, select the 256 x 256 32 bit icon in the Format box. Enter a name for the file in the File name edit box, and select a type for the file from the Save as type drop-down list. Click Save.

07_clicking_save

You can also specify how many colors are used in a selected icon, or the color depth. To do this, right-click on the icon and select Colors from the popup menu. Select 1 bit, 4 bit, 8 bit, or 24 bit to specify the color depth for that icon. To automatically select the color depth, select (automatic) from the submenu, which is the default choice.

08_changing_colors

For files you select often in BeCyIconGrabber, you can add the files to your Favorites list. To do so, select the file on the Directory tab, or in the list of results on the Search tab, and click Favorites at the bottom of the left side of the window.

09_adding_program_to_favorites

The selected file is added to the Favorites tab. If you don’t want to keep a file as a favorite, select it on the Favorites tab and click Remove.

The (Shell) item is available on the Favorites tab by default and cannot be removed. It provides access to the icons used by the Windows operating system. If you’re looking for a general icon to use, (Shell) is a good place to start.

10_program_in_favorites

Besides searching for and selected files on your own from which to extract icons, you can have BeCyIconGrabber search for all files containing icons in a selected directory. To do this, click the Search tab and click New Search.

11_clicking_new_search

On the Search dialog box, click Browse to the right of the Search in Directory edit box.

NOTE: You can also enter the full path manually in the edit box.

12_clicking_browse_on_search_dialog

On the Browse for Folder dialog box, navigate to the directory in which you want to search for icons, select the directory, and click OK.

13_selecting_program_files_folder

To search in all the subdirectories within the selected directory, click the Recursively Search Sub Directories check box.

Some files contain more than one icon, or symbol, in the file. If you want to only find files with a certain, minimum number of symbols, enter the desired number in the Minimum number of contained symbols for a file to be listed edit box. The default value is 1.

Symbols contained in files in the selected directory and subdirectories are automatically extracted and displayed on tabs on the right side of the BeCyIconGrabber window. To limit the number of symbols to be extracted during the search, enter the desired number in the Maximum number of symbols to immediately extract during search edit box. The default value is 10000.

Click OK to begin the search. We chose to search for all icons in the Programs Files directory and all subdirectories.

14_clicking_ok_to_start_search

The files being scanned display in a message at the bottom of the BeCyIconGrabber window. To stop the search, click Cancel.

15_search_in_progress

All the files containing icons display in a list on the Search tab. Initially, all the icons from all the files found are displayed on tabs on the right side of the BeCyIconGrabber window. To view icons only for a specific file in the list, select that file. Only the icons contained in that file are displayed on tabs on the right.

16_search_results

In addition to extracting icons from files, BeCyIconGrabber can also extract cursors. By default, icons are only selected. To extract cursors, as well as icons, select Cursors from the Options menu.

NOTE: When you change the Icons and Cursors selections, you must run the search again, or deselect the file on the Directory tab and select it again for the change to take effect.

17_selecting_to_show_cursors

The following image shows the results of searching for only cursors in the Programs Files directory and subdirectories.

18_cursors_found

Extracting icons from files is useful if you create a lot of specialized shortcuts to scripts or batch files and you want to attach icons to the shortcuts to easily identify them. BeCyIconGrabber makes it easy to extract high quality icons in various sizes.

Download BeCyIconGrabber from http://www.becyhome.de/download_eng.htm.

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 03/22/12

Comments (4)

  1. boocat

    I somehow managed to lose/annihilate my “Amazon Cloud Player” icon. I have given up, but it’s unsightly and I’d like to fix it. Any idea where I could find that? Thanks for your time.

  2. Ollivierre

    IcoFX is just more powerful xD

  3. Sabrina

    Thanks for giving the more information about the How to Extract High Quality Icons from Application Files.

  4. Keith

    I use Icon Viewer from Bot productions.

    It shows a properties page labeled icons when a file is right-clicked and properties is selected from the context menu. If icons are in the file (.exe, .dll, .rll, .ico) a properties page can be selected and all the icons will be shown and there sizes as well.

    Icon Viewer handles 256px icons flawlwessly. It can extract icons as .ico or as an image file. I’ve been using it for two years now as I customize many icons in my system.

    I just figured I’d tell everyone about it. Thanks.

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