Icon libraries are useful storage files for icons; they are given the .icl extension and are actually 16-bit/32-bit DLL files containing a resource (.rsrc) section. The main advantage is that icon libraries are fully supported by all Windows versions*, and can be opened by any icon editor/conversion tool; furthermore they save your NTFS or FAT32 especially for large icon collection: instead of having thousands of single icon files, you have one global icon library file.
GConvert features all the tools you need to create/edit/save/convert icon libraries (in 16 or 32-bit format). All of the tool commands are available under the Library menu:
If you open an icon library file, library commands such as add/remove icons will be enabled. Otherwise if you open any other file, only the command named "Convert current file to icon library" will be available. The latter lets you convert other icon source files such as executable, DLL to icon library files.
* 16-bit ICL libraries are not supported by Windows Vista although GConvert can still handle them even if you run it on Vista.
How to create a new library file?
- If you want to convert an existing icon resource file (EXE, DLL, ICO, ICNS, RSRC, etc...) to an icon library, just select "Library" then "Convert current file to icon library". You will be prompted for the filename of the output icon library. Once you press OK, the new icon library (ICL format) will be created; you can then open it in GConvert.
- If you prefer to create a new icon library from scratch and add icons manually, just open the first icon file you want to add in GConvert. Then like above, select "Library" then "Convert current file to icon library".
After you icon library has been created, you can add new icon files.
Note that the next commands are available only when an icon library file is opened.
How to add icons to my library?
Select "Library|Add Icons(s)" and a shell open dialog box will be displayed to let you select the icon files you want to add.
You may select one or more icon files, including other icon source files such as executable, icon libraries, etc... In case of an icon source file, all icons found inside it will be added.
Once your icons have been added, be sure to save your library by clicking on the Save link in the Icon Details panel, or by selecting "Library|Save changes back to library file". Otherwise your changes will not be saved to the file on the hard disk.
How to remove icons from the library?
First highlight one or more icons you want to remove from your library. Held the CTRL/SHIFT key pressed while clicking with the left mouse button in order to select multiple files to remove.
Then choose "Library|Remove Icons(s)" and answer Yes for confirmation.
Once again, be sure to save your library by clicking on the Save link in the Icon Details panel, or by selecting "Library|Save changes back to library file". Otherwise your changes will not be saved to the file on the hard disk.
How to rename icons?
Inside icon libraries, a unique name is assigned to each icon. When adding icons to icon libraries, GConvert automatically uses the filename of the source icon file plus the icon resource index if available. If you prefer to change the current name of one icon or more icons to a better one, just highlight it in the Main Viewer and select "Library|Rename Icon(s)".
If you select several icons, you must specify the %u variable. This variable will be replaced by the icon's index number in the selection list. For instance, if you selected three icons and you have entered myicon%u, the icons will be named myicon1, myicon2 and myicon3.
Be sure to save your library by clicking on the Save link in the Icon Details panel, or by selecting "Library|Save changes back to library file". Otherwise your changes will not be saved to the file on the hard disk.
Converting icon libraries to other formats
If you modify an existing icon library, you can save it to another icon library file instead of overwriting the current loaded icon library file. In this case, select "Library|Save Library (32-bit ICL format) as...". You will be prompted for a new icon library filename.
Create 32-bit DLL files
GConvert can compile true Win32 icon-only DLL files. These icon DLL files are similar to the MORICONS.DLL file in your System folder. 32-bit DLL files can be loaded using the Windows API function named LoadLibrary, and you can then use other API functions such as LoadIcon; thus icons may be directly accessed from your applications.
Finally GConvert-made 32-bit DLL files can be edited with any Win32 resource editor, and they are of course compatible with all Windows versions and icon editors/extractors.
Convert to a Zip archive
Icon library (ICL) files are not compressed; if you want to share your icon library files on the Internet, they must be first compressed in order to make them smaller. Instead of delivering a Zip archive containing ICL files (end users must first unzip the ICL files prior opening them), you can directly convert your icon libraries to Zip archives ready to be delivered over the Internet.
GConvert will extract all icons from the icon library and then compress each one into the Zip archive. This Zip archive may then be opened in any Zip archiver or better with GConvert, so you can directly view your icons without needing to unzip them first. And last but not least you can then resave your Zip archives into icon libraries (ICL files) using GConvert.
Note that only GConvert currently supports loading icons directly from Zip archives without requiring first an extraction to the hard disk.
Save as 16-bit ICL file
16-bit icon libraries are deprecated because they are not supported by Windows Vista. You can still save 16-bit ICL files with GConvert without any problem, even on Vista; it is up to you.