Earlier this afternoon I needed to modify a .ICO, also known as Windows Icon, for some testing I was doing with X-Chat which is a GUI based IRC (Internet Relay Chat) client. Anyhow it slipped my mind that Photoshop does not even recognize ICO files by default. Adding Windows Icon (ICO) support to Photoshop is really easy though and I remembered from a previous experience the process to add a ICO plugin to Photoshop. Follow the directions below to open, edit, and save ICO files on Windows.
Error Attempting To Open .ICO File In Photoshop:
If you attempted to open a .ICO or Windows Icon file in Photoshop before the ICO plugin is installed you will see an error similar to the below example image.
This just means that you do not yet have the Windows Icon plugin installed which we will complete in the below steps and then you will be able to open, edit, and save .ICO files.
Open, Edit, & Save ICO Files In Photoshop, Edit Windows Icon With Photoshop CS5:
**NOTE** Please note that the below steps were completed on a laptop running Windows 7 Ultimate x64. The version of Photoshop tested was CS5 Photoshop 12.0.3 x64 however the steps should be the same on previous versions of Windows as well as 32 bit versions of Windows as well.
- Download Photoshop ICO Plugin: First click here to download the correct version of the ICO (Windows Icon) File Format Plugin For Photoshop. Select the version of the plugin that matches your Windows version and download the file to your desktop. Since I am using Windows 7 Ultimate x64 I downloaded the ICOFormat-1.93b1-win64.zip file.
- Unzip ICO Format Contents: Unzip the file you downloaded, which in this example was the ICOFormat-1.93b1-win64.zip, to your desktop. The contents of the zip file will include ICOFormat64.8bi and dist folder. The dist folder includes gpl.html and README.html.
- Copy ICOFormat File: Make sure Photoshop is shutdown and then copy the ICOFormat, again in this example the file is called ICOFormat64.8bi, to the Photoshop Plugins directory located at the below path on Windows 7 x64.
- C:\\Program Files\\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS5 (64 Bit)\\Plug-ins\\File Formats
No matter what Windows OS you have look for the Photoshop root directory and then place the file into “Plugins\File Formats”.
- Test Modifying ICO Image: Now start Photoshop and open a .ico file to verifying things are functioning properly.
ICO files are used for many different tasks such as in this instance I was modify .ICO files to make custom emoticons for X-Chat. Depending on the ICO file you are editing it is possible you will be asked to select the size of the ICO you want to work with in Photoshop such as “256×256 32 bits/pixel” all the way down to “16×16 32 bits/pixel” such as shown in the below image.
Select Windows Icon Size You Want To Work With In Photoshop:
It is not very common to have the above options though if someone is selling an Windows Icon pack or something then it is definitely possible. Also again depending on the initial file you may get multiple options to save the file as shown in the below example image.
Select Photoshop Save Format As Either Standard ICO or PNG:
I would suggest always trying the Standard ICO format unless you are building something specifically for Windows Vista which is highly unlikely.On a side note the ICO plugin will allow Photoshop to now generate favicon or favicon.ico files!!