How to customize a screensaver icon...

A screensaver is a program (see What is a screensaver). Therefore, it contain an icon. This icon is used to display it in Windows Explorer or when you create a Shortcut to it in the Desktop for example. A standard icon is used but it's now possible to customize it.

What is an icon?

An icon is a graphic image, a small picture or object that represents a file, program, web page, or command. Icons help you execute commands, open programs or documents quickly. To execute a command by using an icon, click or double-click on the icon. It is also useful to recognize quickly an object in a browser list.

That's almost all you need to know if you only use icons. But you want to use (or create) icons for the screensaver customization feature, you need to know more about them.

What are the differences between an image and an icon?

A computer image is a bitmap (composed of pixels) or vector (composed of drawing paths) picture, which can be saved using various formats (BMP, PNG, GIF, JPEG, WMF...). All these formats have several different properties (bitmaps, vectors, compressed, layered, animated...) and can be used to store pictures at any sizes and resolution.

Icons are different from standard images. They are have standard sizes (usually small): 16x16, 32x32, 48x48... One icon is composed of several images. Each of them with a different size and number of colors (mono, 16 colors, 256 colors, 16.8M...). And the most important property of an icon is the ability to include transparent areas. This allows seeing the screen background behind the icon within its square image.

What is the structure of an icon?

As we've seen in previous paragraph, an icon is a group of images of various formats (size and colors). Furthermore, each image can include transparent area. That's why you'll find a transparent color in the drawing palette for 16 or 256 color images and a variable opacity parameter for the new Windows XP format (opacity = 0 means transparent).

What kind of icons can I use to customize my screensaver?

To be compatible with the customization feature, the icon must be Windows compliant (ICO format) contain at least the following image formats:

16x16 - 256 colors
32x32 - 256 colors
48x48 - 256 colors
16x16 - Windows XP
32x32 - Windows XP
48x48 - Windows XP

How to create my own icons?

Axialis Software has released an icon editor that will permit you to easily create your own icons in a few minutes: Axialis IconWorkshop. This professional tool will permit to create icons with several formats from images in a few clicks. You can download a shareware version here and test it for 30 days.

Customize the screensaver  icon

1. Once your compatible icon is ready and saved in as an ICO file on your disk, open your screensaver project. Compile it either as SCR or as Install Package. Choose Project/Compile an Installable Screen Saver File (Shift+F4) or Project/Compile a Screen Saver File (F4).

2. The first dialog box of the compilation wizard opens. Follow the procedure until Step 3 "Screensaver Customization" if you choose to compile a SCR file (see below) or until Step 5 if you choose to create an install package.

3. Click on the option Use a custom icon for the screensaver SCR file to activate it (). The edit fields below are automatically enabled.

4. In the edit zone, enter the full path to your ICO file on your disk or click the [...] button to browse your disks and locate the file using a standard Windows dialog box.

5. Once the pathname has been entered you see a preview of the icon image in the window on right.

6. If this is the right icon, click Next. If the icon has the correct format (see specs above), you can continue the compilation wizard. Finish the compilation and test it to see if the icon has been properly changed.

 REMARK: You can also customize the icon of the install EXE file if you have chosen to create an installation package. The procedure is similar and the icon should have the same specs. Click on the Advanced Customization button in Step 2 of the compilation wizard.

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