8/23/2021

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You can create a new image, bitmap, icon, cursor, or toolbar, and then use the Image Editor to customize its appearance. You can also create a new bitmap patterned after a resource template.

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Icons and Cursors: Image Resources for Display Devices

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Icons and cursors are graphical resources that can contain multiple images in different sizes and color schemes for different types of display devices. A cursor also has a hot spot, the location Windows uses to track its position. Both icons and cursors are created and edited using the Image Editor, as are bitmaps and other images.

When you create a new icon or cursor, the Image Editor first creates an image of a standard type. The image is initially filled with the screen (transparent) color. If the image is a cursor, the hot spot is initially the upper-left corner with coordinates 0,0.

By default, the Image Editor supports the creation of additional images for the devices shown in the following table. You can create images for other devices by typing width, height, and color-count parameters into the Custom Image dialog box.

ColorWidth (pixels)Height (pixels)
Monochrome1616
Monochrome3232
Monochrome4848
Monochrome6464
Monochrome9696
161616
163232
166464
164848
169696
2561616
2563232
2564848
2566464
2569696

Create a device image (icon or cursor)

When you create a new icon or cursor resource, the Image Editor first creates an image in a specific style (32 × 32, 16 colors for icons and 32 × 32, Monochrome for cursors). You can then add images in different sizes and styles to the initial icon or cursor and edit each additional image, as needed, for the different display devices. You can also edit an image by using a cut-and-paste operation from an existing image type or from a bitmap created in a graphics program.

When you open the icon or cursor resource in the Image Editor, the image most closely matching the current display device is opened by default.

Note

If your project doesn't already contain an .rc file, see Creating a New Resource Script File.

The New <Device> Image Type dialog box enables you to create a new device image of a specified type. To open the New <Device> Image dialog box, go to menu Image > New Image Type. The following properties included are Target Image Type and Custom.

The Target Image Type property lists the available image types where you select the image type you want to open:

16 x 16, 16 colors
32 x 32, 16 colors
48 x 48, 16 colors
64 x 64, 16 colors
96 x 96, 16 colors

16 x 16, 256 colors
32 x 32, 256 colors
48 x 48, 256 colors
64 x 64, 256 colors
96 x 96, 256 colors

16 x 16, Monochrome
32 x 32, Monochrome
48 x 48, Monochrome
64 x 64, Monochrome
96 x 96, Monochrome

Note

Any existing images will not be displayed in this list.

The Custom property opens the Custom Image dialog box in which you can create a new image with a custom size and number of colors.

The Custom Image dialog box enables you to create a new image with a custom size and number of colors. The following properties included are:

PropertyDescription
WidthProvides a space for you to enter the width of the custom image in pixels (1 - 512, limit of 2048).
HeightProvides a space for you to enter the height for the custom image in pixels (1 - 512, limit of 2048).
ColorsProvides a space for you to choose the number of colors for the custom image: 2, 16, or 256.

Use the Open <Device> Image dialog box to open device images in C++ projects. It lists existing device images in the current resource (images that are part of the current resource). The following property included is:

PropertyDescription
Current ImagesLists the images included in the resource. Select the image type you want to open.
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To create a new icon or cursor

  1. In Resource View, right-click your .rc file, then choose Insert Resource. If you already have an existing image resource in your .rc file, such as a cursor, you can right-click the Cursor folder and select Insert Cursor.

  2. In the Insert Resource dialog box, select Icon or Cursor and choose New. For icons, this action creates an icon resource with a 32 × 32, 16-color icon. For cursors, a 32 × 32, Monochrome (2-color) image is created.

    If a plus sign (+) appears next to the image resource type in the Insert Resource dialog box, it means that toolbar templates are available. Select the plus sign to expand the list of templates, select a template, and choose New.

To add an image for a different display device

  1. Go to menu Image > New Device Image, or right-click in the Image Editor pane and choose New Device Image.

  2. Select the type of image you want to add. You can also select Custom to create an icon whose size isn't available in the default list.

To copy a device image

  1. Go to menu Image > Open Device Image and choose an image from the current images list. For example, choose the 32 × 32, 16-color version of an icon.

  2. Copy the currently displayed icon image (Ctrl+C).

  3. Open a different image of the icon in another Image Editor window. For example, open the 16 × 16, 16-color version of the icon.

  4. Paste the icon image (Ctrl+V) from one Image Editor window to the other. If you're pasting a larger size into a smaller size, you can use the icon handles to resize the image.

To delete a device image

How

While the icon image is displayed in the Image Editor, go to menu Image > Delete Device Image. When you delete the last icon image in the resource, the resource is also deleted.

Note

When you press the Del key, the images and colors you have drawn on an icon are deleted but the icon remains and you can now redesign it. If you press Del by mistake, press Ctrl+Z to undo the action.

To create transparent or inverse regions in device images

In the Image Editor, the initial icon or cursor image has a transparent attribute. Although icon and cursor images are rectangular, many don't appear so because parts of the image are transparent and the underlying image on the screen shows through the icon or cursor. When you drag an icon, parts of the image may appear in an inverted color. You create this effect by setting the screen color and inverse color in the Colors window.

The screen and inverse colors you apply to icons and cursors either shape and color the derived image or assign inverse regions. The colors indicate parts of the image that have those attributes. You can change the colors that represent the screen-color and inverse-color attributes in editing. These changes don't affect the appearance of the icon or cursor in your application.

Note

The dialog boxes and menu commands you see might differ from those described in Help depending on your active settings or edition. To change your settings, go to menu Tools > Import and Export Settings. For more information, see Personalize the Visual Studio IDE.

To create transparent or inverse regions

  1. In the Colors window, choose the selector Screen-Color or Inverse-Color.

  2. Apply the screen or inverse color onto your image using a drawing tool. For more information on drawing tools, see Using a Drawing Tool.

To change the screen or inverse color

  1. Select either the Screen-Color selector or the Inverse-Color selector.

  2. Choose a color from the Colors palette in the Colors window.

    The complementary color is automatically assigned for the other selector.

    Tip

    If you double-click the Screen-Color or Inverse-Color selector, the Custom Color Selector dialog box appears.

Use the 256-color palette

Using the Image Editor, icons and cursors can be sized large (64 × 64) with a 256-color palette to choose from. After creating the resource, a device image style is selected.

To create a 256-color icon or cursor

  1. In Resource View, right-click your .rc file, then choose Insert Resource. If you already have an existing image resource in your .rc file, such as a cursor, you can right-click the Cursor folder and select Insert Cursor.

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  2. In the Insert Resource dialog box, select Icon or Cursor and choose New.

  3. Go to menu Image > New Device Image and select the 256-color image style you want.

To choose a color from the 256-color palette for large icons

To draw with a selection from the 256-color palette, you need to select the colors from the Colors palette in the Colors window.

  1. Select the large icon or cursor, or create a new large icon or cursor.

  2. Choose a color from the 256 colors displayed in the Colors palette in the Colors window.

    The color selected will become the current color in the Colors palette in the Colors window.

    Note

    The initial palette used for 256-color images matches the palette returned by the CreateHalftonePalette Windows API. All icons intended for the Windows shell should use this palette to prevent flicker during palette realization.

To set a cursor's hot spot

How

The hot spot of a cursor is the point to which Windows refers in tracking the cursor's position. By default, the hot spot is set to the upper-left corner of the cursor with coordinates 0,0. The Hotspot property in the Properties window shows the hot spot coordinates.

  1. On the Image Editor toolbar, choose the Set Hotspot tool.

  2. Select the pixel you want to assign as the cursor's hot spot.

    The Hotspot property in the Properties window displays the new coordinates.

To create and save a bitmap as a .gif or .jpeg

When you create a bitmap, the image is created in bitmap format (.bmp). You can, however, save the image as a GIF or JPEG or in other graphic formats.

Note

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This process doesn't apply to icons and cursors.

  1. Go to menu File > Open, then select File.

  2. In the New File dialog box, choose the Visual C++ folder, then select Bitmap File (.bmp) in the Templates box and select Open.

    The bitmap opens in the Image Editor.

  3. Make changes to your new bitmap as needed.

  4. With the bitmap still open in the Image Editor, go to menu File > Save filename.bmp As.

  5. In the Save File As dialog box, type the name you want to give the file and the extension that denotes the file format you want in the File Name box. For example, myfile.gif.

    Note

    You must create or open the bitmap outside of your project in order to save it as another file format. If you create or open it within your project, the Save As command will be unavailable. For more information, see Viewing Resources in a Resource Script File Outside of a Project (Standalone).

  6. Select Save.

To convert an image from one format to another

You can open GIF or JPEG images in the Image Editor and save them as bitmaps. Also, you can open a bitmap file and save it as a GIF or JPEG. Images you work with need not be part of a project for editing in the development environment (see stand-alone image editing).

  1. Open the image in the Image Editor.

  2. Go to menu File > Save filename As.

  3. In the Save File As dialog box, in the File name box, type the file name and the extension that denotes the format you want.

  4. Select Save.

To add a new image resource to an unmanaged C++ project

  1. In Resource View, right-click your .rc file, then choose Insert Resource. If you already have an existing image resource in your .rc file, such as a cursor, you can simply right-click the Cursor folder and select Insert Cursor.

  2. In the Insert Resource dialog box, select the type of image resource you'd like to create (Bitmap, for example) then choose New.

    If a plus sign (+) appears next to the image resource type in the Insert Resource dialog box, it means that toolbar templates are available. Select the plus sign to expand the list of templates, select a template, and choose New.

To add a new image resource to a project in a .NET programming language

  1. In Solution Explorer, right-click the project folder (for example, WindowsApplication1).

  2. From the shortcut menu, select Add, then choose Add New Item.

  3. In the Categories pane, expand the Local Project Items folder, then choose Resources.

  4. In the Templates pane, choose the resource type you'd like to add to your project.

    The resource is added to your project in Solution Explorer and the resource opens in the Image Editor. You can now use all the tools available in the Image Editor to modify your image. For more information on adding images to a managed project, see Loading a Picture at Design Time.

Requirements

None

See also

Image Editor for Icons
How to: Edit an Image
How to: Use a Drawing Tool
How to: Work with Color
Accelerator Keys

The article provides the detailed guidance on how use conditional formatting Icon Sets, Data Bars and Color Scales in Excel 2016, 2013, 2010 and 2007. It will teach you how to extend these conditional formats beyond their common uses and apply icons based on another cell's value.

Last week we started to explorer various features and capabilities of Conditional formatting in Excel 2016, 2013 and 2010. If you have not got a change to read that article, you may want to do this know. If you already know the basics, let's move on and see what format options you have with regard to Excel's icon sets, color scales and data bars and how you can leverage them for your projects.

When you click the Conditional Formatting button, a drop-down menu offers you a handful of pre-defined formatting rules. Let's quickly go through them, one at a time.

Excel conditional formatting Icon Sets

Excel conditional formatting icon sets will help you visually represent your data with arrows, shapes, check marks, flags, rating starts and other objects.

You apply the icon sets to your data by clicking Conditional Formatting > Icon Sets, and the icons appear inside selected cells straight away.

In the screenshot above, you can see a table listing the household spendings with a green circle representing the highest value and red circles lower values. I cannot say that Excel has interpreted the data in the way I wanted, so let's customize the icon set a bit. To do this, click More Rules.. underneath the icon sets list to bring up the New Formatting Rule dialog.

From here you are able to choose other icons and assign them to different values. I have decided to stick with the same icons but assign them in a different way:

Tips:
  • To change the order of icons, click the Reverse Icon Order button.
  • To hide the cells' values, select the Show Icon Only check box.
  • To assign icons based on a cell's value instead of specifying a number or percent, type the cell's address in the Value box or click the Collapse Dialog icon to select a cell, as shown in the screenshot below.

How to apply an Excel icon set based on other cells' values

A common opinion is that Excel conditional formatting icon sets can only be used to format cells based on their own values. But this is a delusion. With just a little creativity, you can assign icons depending on the values of other cells in a row or based on another cell's value, as demonstrated in the following examples.

Example 1. Apply an icon set based on other cells in a row (blanks vs. non-blanks)

Suppose, you have a list of products that includes units in stock, delivery and other details. What you want is to add different icons at the beginning of each row depending on whether other cells in the same row are blank or non-blank. That is, you will add a check mark in Column A if all cells in a row are filled in with data, an exclamation mark if some cells are blank, and a cross icon if all cells in a row are blank. To use an Excel icon set in this way, perform the following steps:

  1. Add an empty column in front of your table (Column A).
  2. Copy the following formula across Column A: =COUNTBLANK(B2:F2), where F is the last column in your table. This formula will count the number of blank cells in each row.
  3. Apply the conditional formatting icon set rule to Column A by clicking More Rules…, as explained above.
  4. In the New Formatting Rule dialog, do the following:
    • Click the Reverse Icon Order button to change the order of icons.
    • Select the Icon Set Only checkbox.
    • For the cross icon, set >=5 (where 5 is the number of columns in your table, excluding the first 'Icon' column).
    • For the exclamation mark icon, set >=1.
    • Set Type to 'Number' for both icons.

    You can verify the settings in the screenshot below:

And here is the result:

Example 2. Add icons based on another cell's value

Suppose, you have a list of orders and you need to add a green flag to column A when a certain product is delivered, i.e. there is any value in the corresponding cell in column D (Delivery Date). If there is no value in column D, a red flag should be placed in column A.

In fact, this example is very similar to the previous one, with the difference that you apply a 2-icon set based on the value in another column.

  1. And again, you start by adding a formula to column A. This time we will use the IF function: =IF($D2<>',3,1). The formula says to put 3 in column A if there is any value in the corresponding cell in column D, otherwise put 1. Naturally, you will need to replace D with the column you base your formatting on.
  2. Select all cells in column A, except for the column header, and create a conditional formatting icon set rule by clicking Conditional Formatting > Icon sets > More Rules..
  3. In the New Formatting Rule dialog, select the following options:
    • Click the Reverse Icon Order button to change the icons' order.
    • Select the Icon Set Only checkbox.
    • For the green flag, set >=3.
    • For the yellow flag, set >2. As you remember, we do not really want a yellow flag anywhere, so you set a condition that will never be met, i.e. a value greater than 2 and less than 3.
    • Set Type to 'Number' for both icons.

And here is the result of your effort - the green and red flag icons are added to column A based on the value in column D.

Excel conditional formatting Data Bars

You use conditional formatting Data Bars to represent data graphically inside a cell. The longest bar represents the highest value and, as you can easily guess, shorter bars represent smaller values. Data bars can help you spot large and small numbers in your spreadsheets, for example top-selling and bottom-selling products in your sales reports.

You apply data bars in Excel in the already familiar way - simply select the cells, click Conditional Formatting > Data Bars and choose the bar type you want. Once you do this, the colored bars will be placed inside the selected cells.

As you can see in the screenshot above, Excel conditional formatting data bars work very well to visually show your household spendings.

If you want to apply your own data bar style, click More Rules.. as usual to bring up the Edit Formatting Rule window, where you choose the desired options:

  • Place a check in the Show Bar Only checkbox to hide the cells' values and display the colored bars only.
  • To select the Minimum and Maximum data types, click the little black arrow next to the corresponding box. While the Automatic type works fine in most cases, you can also choose some other data type such as percent, number, formula, etc.
  • Experiment with Fill color, Border and Bar direction and click OK when you are happy with the Data Bar Preview.

Excel conditional formatting Color Scales

Using conditional formatting Color Scales, you can format your cells with two or three color gradients, where different color shades represent different cell values.

How To Change Icons On Desktop

You can start by clicking Conditional formatting > Color Scales and hovering over the thumbnails of ready-to-use color scales Excel has already created for you. The 2-color green-white color scale seems to have worked pretty well too for my household budget:

But if you really want to impress someone and have the time and desire to experiment, try out the More Rules.. option again and play with the colors a bit. First off, you choose either a 2-Color or 3-Color scale, then select your own colors and assign them to the minimum, maximum, and midpoint values.

How To Set Desktop Icons

This is how you use Excel's icon sets, color scales and data bars. Very intuitive and user-friendly, aren't they? If you are curious to learn other conditional formatting rule types, the following tutorials may come in handy:

How To Set Icons

In the next article we are going to investigate arcane twists of Excel conditional formatting formulas, please stay tuned!