Icon Filer

Version 1.0b16

What is Icon•Filer?

Icon•Filer is a simple drag-and-drop utility that converts resource files full of icons into folders full of files or folders with the icons pasted on as custom icons. It was originally written for a friend who had recently come across a whole mess of icons stored in resource files. She could handle cutting and pasting in the “Get Info” window but dealing with ResEdit or another resource copying program was a little too much. That fateful day, Icon•Filer was born. An unintended bonus is that Icon•Filer can suck the icons out of most any file, including your favorite application!

With the release of version 1.0b12, Icon•Filer can “file” icons in reverse. In other words, it can consolidate a folder full of files with custom icons into a single resource file containing all of the icons from all of the files.

Icon•Filer is a “fat binary” application, meaning that it runs native on both 68K- based Macs and PowerPC-based Macs. Since the program is fairly small to begin with, the added size of this approach is small, too. Icon•Filer does run in Classic on Mac OS X, though it has not been thoroughly tested in this environment.

Where Can I Get Icon•Filer?

Icon•Filer is available for download at:

How do I use Icon•Filer?

Just drag the file or files you want processed onto the Icon•Filer icon and let it do the rest. It will create a folder for each icon-containing file dropped on it and create a file or folder in the newly-created folder for each icon in the file. The folder will be created in the same directory as the original file, unless the original is on a locked disk, in which case the folder will be created on the desktop. The folder will have the same name as the original file with ” ƒ” appended to it.

To consolidate custom icons into a single resource file, drag the folder containing the files onto the Icon•Filer icon. It will then create a ResEdit resource file and transfer all custom icons from all files contained by the folder into the resource file. The file will have the same name as the folder with ” icons” appended to it.

If you prefer, you can also launch Icon•Filer by double-clicking it and use the File menu to select a file or folder to process. Note that only folders and files containing icons will show up in the file selection dialog. Files containing ‘cicn’ type icons will only show up if the “File cicns” option in the Preferences menu is checked.

Once the program has started processing files, you can cancel processing by typing command-period. You have the option of cancelling all files, or just the one currently being processed.

When Icon•Filer is done with its work, open the new folder to see the icons. If you’ve chosen to have Icon•Filer paste the icons on files, the icon files will be SimpleText (aka TeachText) files containing just a short tag line indicating that they were created by Icon•Filer (you can customize the tag line by choosing “Set tag text…” from the Preferences menu).

So What do I do now?

To use an icon on another file, select the new icon you’re interested in using, select “Get Info” from the File menu (or use Command-I), click on the icon in the “Get Info” window, and select “Copy” from the Edit menu. This places the icon on the clipboard. Select the file (or folder, or disk) on which you want to use the icon and “Get Info” on that file. Click on the icon in the window and select “Paste” from the “Edit” menu. Voila! The icon now graces your file (or folder, etc.).


As mentioned above, you have several options in how Icon•Filer files icons. These are changed using the Preferences menu (surprise, surprise!).

You can choose whether the program pastes icons onto SimpleText files or onto folders. Pasting onto folders can be especially handy when you’re filing any of the many collections of folder icons. It can also cut down a bit on the disk space used by filed icons (see “Known problems and limitations”). Processing ‘cicn’ type icons is optional, and can be disabled by unchecking “File cicns.”

The tag line added to the text files the program creates can be modified using the “Set tag text…” menu option. This menuitem is dimmed when “Paste on folders” is selected.

Note that in this version the “Consolidate custom icons” option is always checked. A future version will allow consolidation of all icons in a folder.

Recent Changes

Complete release notes are also available.

Changes Since 1.0b14

  • Changed contact information (e-mail, www, and snail-mail). Added Register application. No other changes.

Since 1.0b9

  • Added support for reverse filing, that is, creating a single resource file from the custom icons of many individual files.
  • Fixed several bugs including a particularly nasty one that would freeze the system when trying to open an item in the System Folder using “Select File…”

Since 1.0b3

  • Icon•Filer now handles ‘cicn’ type icons (such as those used by SunDesk and other pre-System 7 color icon utilities). See the next section forsome comments on cicn handling limitations.
  • The preferences menu is new, as are all of the options therein.
  • Lots of bugs, some rather nasty, are gone. Among other things, the program can now process boatloads of files without crashing (1.0b3 would crash after a couple hundred). Icon•Filer can now process its own icons without problems.
  • The “open file” dialog box now displays only those files containing icons.
  • At the suggestion of a registered user, the About box now contains registration information for those who habitually throw away “Read Me!” files.

Known problems and limitations

Icon•Filer can chew up disk space at an alarming rate. This isn’t really a problem with Icon•Filer per se, but it’s important to keep in mind. Because the Mac file system has a lower limit on the size of files, a bunch of small files will almost always take more disk space that one large file containing the same total information. This effect gets worse with larger disks. There are two ways you can minimize this problem: have Icon•Filer paste the icons on folders instead of files, or change the “tag text” to an empty string. Either way, you stop the program from adding a data fork to the files it creates, potentially cutting its disk space use in half.

Of course another option is to use Icon•Filer to consolidate collections of icons into resource files for storage, then reverse the process when you need easy access to them.

Handling of ‘cicn’ type icons is not really up to par yet. Any cicn larger than 32x32 will not be “filed”. Also, 16x16 pixel icons are not created from cicns yet, so if you typically view files “by small icon,” you’ll be disappointed by the results. Occasionally, Icon•Filer may choke on some strange cicns. I haven’t figured out why this is happening, but other programs (such as ResEdit and Resorcerer) choke on the same cicns. These problems will be addressed in a future release.

Icon families filed with Icon•Filer must contain the black and white version (ICN#) of the icon to be recognized. This is because the black and white icon contains the “mask” information used for icon highlighting in the Finder and elsewhere. This may or may not be addressed in the future.

The resource manager has a limit on the total number of resources allowed in one file. If you try to consolidate too many icons into a single resource file, you’ll run smack into this limit. At this point, Icon•Filer should just stop gracefully (more or less). A future version will automatically create additional resource files as needed.

Remember, this is a beta release. Please let me know if you find a problem. Although I’m unable to devote as much time as I’d like to this program, I do plan to make an effort to stomp out any bugs.

Future Directions

  • Improved interface for setting preferences.
  • Better support for odd-sized cicns, and creation of 16x16 pixel icons from cicns.
  • Creation of a full icon family (ICN#, icl4, icl8, ics#, ics4, ics8) from whatever is present.
  • Better feedback while processing files.
  • Support for consolidating all icons in a folder, rather than just custom icons.
  • Automatic creation of additional resource files as needed to avoid having too many resources in one file.

Random Information

Icon•Filer requires System 7.0 or higher (which is a good thing, after all, custom icons are only available in System 7 and higher). Icon•Filer runs fine in Mac OS X “Classic” mode. It is built upon “DropShell 2.0” by Leonard Rosenthol and Stephan Somogyi and was written in C using Metrowerks CodeWarrior (CW8). It also takes advantage of Jim Luther’s excellent MoreFiles code collection to handle lots of arcane file manager stuff.


Icon•Filer is now freeware. You may use use Icon•Filer for your own personal use for free.

Icon•Filer was previously shareware. Thanks to everybody who registered the shareware version.


Bradley D. Mohr disclaims all warranties relating to this software, whether express or implied, including without limitation any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. Bradley D. Mohr will not be liable for any special, incidental, consequential, indirect, or similar damages due to loss of data or any other reason, even if Bradley D. Mohr or an agent of his has been advised of the possibility of such damages. In no event shall Bradley D. Mohr be liable for any damages, regardless of the form of the claim. The person using the software bears all risk as to the quality and performance of the software. Because some states do not allow the exclusion or limitation of liability for consequential or incidental damages, the above limitations may not apply to you.


Icon•Filer is Copyright ©1994-1996 by Bradley D. Mohr.

Contacting the Author

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