New/updated Icon Sets with Visual Studio 2005

Visual Studio installs with a collection of bitmaps, cursors, icons, metafiles, and videos to assist developers with Windows and Web application development. The collection of image resources from various Microsoft products has accumulated over time, and we’ve heard clearly from our customers that the old outdated elements are essentially unusable and what they need is a library of updated, current images for use in their new applications!

This is one of the top requests that we have heard from our customers via the MSDN Feedback Center.  Check out what customers have been asking at:

To answer this need, we have defined and organized a new image resource collection to be shipped with Visual Studio 2005.  In Visual Studio 2005 Beta2, customers will see over 600 images in .bmp and .ico format, including the most common actions and elements found Windows, Office and Visual Studio UI.  In the RTM version, we will additionally extend the library to include web format (.gif) for our users who would appreciate a smaller size for their web applications.

As a preview, here is a partial list of a few of the common command elements which can be found in the library:

New, Open, Save, Save as Web Page
Print, Print Preview, Print Setup
Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete
Undo, Redo
Back, Forward, Stop, Home, Refresh, Search the Web
Sort (general), Sort Ascending, Sort Descending
Folder, New Folder, Move to Folder
Page Setup
Fill Color, Font Color
Move Folder, Copy Folder, Delete Folder
Appointment, Meeting Request
Task, Note
Check Spelling
Font, Bullets and Numbering
Decrease Indent, Increase Indent
Align Left, Align Center, Align Right
Bold, Italic, Underline
Bullets, Numbering


Thanks to Anssi Virtanen for giving this input via email.  



Comments (44)

  1. Denny says:

    Sounds GREAT!!!

    PS: .ico in multi icon format??

    so that the right version is there for different client screens??

    like 16×16, 32×32, 48×48

    and color depth 256,16bpp, 24bpp

    dev’s tend not to be that great at tweaking Gfx bits….

  2. Donna Wallace says:

    Hi Denny

    I’m the designer putting together the library… and yes, .ico is the format that contains multiple images. We appreciate any feedback you have on the new icon sets….



  3. This is excellent news!

  4. RJ says:

    Very nice. No more raiding shell32.dll!

    I look forward to using those with the new MenuStrip class.

  5. ShadowChaser says:

    Great news! I really appreciate all the time and effort that has gone into the new icon library – I get a few "feedback update alerts" *every* day so there definately is a lot of activity with it!


  6. Josh Koppang says:

    I hate to admit it, but this is in the top 5 of my favorite new features for VS 2005. I was disappointed when VS 2003 didn’t have updated icons.

  7. This is huge, guys, thanks for addressing this issue. This is *exactly* what I asked for in a blog post about a year ago:

    Any possibility of including anti-aliased PNG as well? IE’s support requires a workaround, but they’ll look MUCH nicer than indexed GIFs.

  8. Jason says:

    At last! 🙂

  9. Dave says:

    One question – why the _hell_ has it taken so long? Some of us devs have been crying out for updated sets since Visual Studio ’98.

  10. Donna Wallace (Dev Div Ux Team) says:

    Great to hear the positive feedback on the library! To answer the question about "what took you so long"… I guess the answer is that in VS7.1 we didn’t have a huge outcry for new images – it wasn’t until we designed the new hybrid style post-WinXP and Office products rolled to high color that it became more urgent. The plan for Whidbey was always to include the new library with Beta2, which is when most of the VS icon upgrade was complete. I do have a question for you: the current plan is to copy the library to disk during install as a .zip file, which you will then need to unzip. The end result will be a structure organized by image type and usage. Does this seem reasonable? Also – to clarify an earlier comment – most of the images are in .bmp format (not .ico) since that is what we use when we build VS UI. There are some .ico files included, but they are the minority.

  11. Eddy Recio says:


    I think that is perfect solution. Ico files require extra handling in .NET because most controls strip out the alpha channel and the end result is a nasty globular outline. Icon files normally work best for Windows forms as the Icon. Sorry, I know it sounds obvious but other bitmap formats work best 90% of the time for most application specific imagery. And as far as the pre-Zipped with a folder hierarchy, again great idea! Yet another reason to look forward to Beta2!


  12. Mr. Dew says:

    This would be great news and it certainly makes sense. Microsoft wants developers to make applications that look and feel like an application of Windows XP, not of some Windows 95 stuff. They even included the documentation to show how you can make desktop icons look like Windows XP ones. Going one step further to provide the toolbar’s icon is a sensible choice.

  13. Cut & paste is so 1984 for your code. Grok the new marvel: Code Snippets. In Whidbey (aka Visual Studio 2005), reuse your old code like the object it was written to be. (That’s a shot across the bow, o…

  14. liza says:

    My intention says right to the point that this site is good and Your blog is a refreshing change from the majority of blogs I have visited I thank you for your efforts to share your insights and help the world become a better place.

  15. SPH says:

    I think it would also be a good idea to allow developers to create derivative/partially copied icons from the ones supplied, so that matching icons can be legally created when necessary.

    There will be occasions when developers will need something specific which could not be covered by a general purpose library. In this case, developers will need to author icons. Sometimes, the only way to do this consistently would be to slightly modify an existing icon or even combine two existing icons.

    I’d like the license to allow this.

  16. Mike says:

    Am I missing something ? I think the new images require in alpha channel for antialiasing on any background. Bitmaps "supports" an alpha channel by using a 32 bit depth but this format seems not to be loaded corectly by System.Drawing.Bitmap (it loses it’s alpha channel).

  17. Daryl says:

    This is a good interim solution, and sorely needed. However, it’s not actually the right long-term solution. What *should* happen is that support for "standard" buttons should be added to the Windows Theme system.

    If this were done, people could load a "metallic" theme on their Longhorn desktop, and things like the Back button on their browser would change their appearance automatically. There’s no reason "themes" support should only apply to the windowing system: bring it down to the application level!

  18. Daryl says:

    PS: That "levitra" response is PageRank spam. Should be deleted.

  19. István says:

    How about icons for certificates and email signing/encryption (various certificate icons plus padlock/cert with envelope – ala Outlook)? Will they be included?

  20. McBlog says:

    I just had a look at Somasegar’s blog (he’s the Corporate Vice President for Microsoft’s Developer Division)….

  21. A customer recently asked me if they can use the standard Microsoft explorer icons in their applications….

  22. In case you’ve asked yourself the same question I’ve asked myself – how to "steal" Visual Studio 2005

  23. In case you've asked yourself the same question I've asked myself – how to "steal"

  24. Ross says:

    Tiny, tiny icons – as much use as a chocolate teapot!

  25. Alexander says:

    Hi. We use custom bitmaps for AddIn Toolbar in VS2005 – 2008. Do you know how make these bitmaps to have AntiAlias effect. Thank you, Alexander. My E-mail

  26. Suzanne Hansen says:

    Hi Alexander,

    I’m from the Visual Studio Platform team.  There’s no way to get Visual Studio to do the anti-aliasing, but the bitmap provided can be a high-color image with anti-aliasing built in.  High color images can be used for both Visual Studio 2005 and 2008.

  27. Nil says:

    Thanks for the post. It’s great!