Making Icons in Photoshop

I recently set up a really old Windows laptop for my son to use. I then recorded myself reading some of his favorite story books and put the mp3 files on the desktop for him. I wanted to make the file icons into the cover of each book so it would be easy for him to choose a story on his own.I took pictures of each book cover and cropped them nicely so each image was just the cover. However, I couldn’t set them as the file icons because they need to be ICO files. Just changing the file extension does not work, and none of the programs that I had installed could make an ICO file.

I did some digging and experimenting, and I found the Telegraphics plug-in for Photoshop:

The website looks a little sketchy, but the plug-in came widely recommended, so I gave it a shot. When you visit the link above, the plug-in information is in the second section of information on the page. The fourth column contains links to the different Windows install files. The third column has install files for older versions of Mac (pre-OS X – they recommend Zonic IconLab for OS X, but I have not personally tried it).

It was very easy to install, just download and then unpack the appropriate zip file for your operating system. There will be a plug-in file and then a “dist” folder. The “dist” folder contains a README file which contains more detailed installation instructions, but basically you just make sure Photoshop is closed, and then copy the plug-in file and paste it into the Photoshop file formats directory. You can usually find the file formats directory by going into your Program Files directory (usually found on the C drive or whatever drive contains your operating system files), then into Adobe, then into your version of Photoshop, then into Plug-ins, then into File Formats. Just paste the plug-in file into “File Formats”, and then reboot your machine (you may not need to, but I figure it doesn’t hurt). When you next open Photoshop, you will now see the ICO option in the file format drop-down when you save a file.

This plug-in took about two minutes to download and install, and it is really easy to use since it is just a part of the native Photoshop Save functionality. There are many programs out there that will convert existing images into ICO formats, but I found it easiest to just save the image as an ICO when I was cropping it in Photoshop. I was able to save all of the book covers in the ICO formats, set them as the icons for the audio files, and now my son can just click on a book cover and hear that story any time he wants.