Icon Mining


72 hours to go until the InDesign Conference, and I have to take a break from non-stop InDesigning or I’m going to go InDeNuts. Here’s a tip for anyone who has to put together presentations or trainings about software and wants to have some nice visuals.

On the Mac, you can go icon mining by right/ctrl-clicking on an application icon and choosing Show Package Contents from the menu.

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When you do this, the application opens like a folder and you can see all the bits and pieces that make up its interface.

Find a folder called Contents. It shouldn’t be too hard. Open it.

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Look for another folder called Resources.

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Inside Resources you will find all the little picture files and icons that the application uses. For some apps, there will be more than a thousand. The .icns are the big juicy icon files.

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When you find something you like, be sure to COPY it to a new location, otherwise you may find the application gets very upset when it goes looking for a resource that isn’t there.

You can’t open .icns files with Photoshop, but Apple’s Preview works like a charm. Open the drawer attached to the right side of the window and you can see all the variants of the icon.

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Select the one you want and save it as a PNG. That will preserve any transparency. Now you can open it in Photoshop, place it in InDesign, etc.

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Yum. No sloppy screen grabs for you. Now all your presentations and training materials can be visualicious.

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