Extracting SDK icons

So as you’ve probably know already if you’ve tried to customize UITabBarItems, the images you provide are used only to extract the alpha channel. That makes usual stock art not the most applicable, and if you’re as artistically challenged as trolls, you’re not too interested in trying to figure out how to draw that kind of thing yourself.

So the immediate idea is, no doubt, let’s use some of the icons of that type already present in the SDK. Besides saving us trouble, that contributes to a cohesive user experience, and who couldn’t be in favor of that? For example, let’s decide we would like to have a camera image on one of our tabs. So we dig through the simulator resources, which are found at


and we find one that looks like what we want, inside the above at


But wait, it’s not quite that easy! All the allegedly PNG images in the simulator SDK are actually in Apple’s wacky iPhone variation of the PNG format, so we have to deal with that somehow. As it happens, some extra friendly fellow has put up an online converter to do so for us. That produces a standard PNG file that we can simply toss into our project, set in Interface Builder … and hey presto,


a standards-consistent UITabBar! [UPDATE: Or, on the other hand, using a camera icon for a camera-related function could actually in Apple’s eyes turn out to be a big bundle of FAIL. So be careful with how you use these icons, kids!]

Alex | January 3, 2009
  • Pim January 4, 2009 at 10:43 am
    Wow, thanks for the tip. Almost gave up on using these and wanted to recreate them.
  • Pim January 4, 2009 at 11:38 am
    By the way, where did you get the 'gallery' icon from?? Can't seem to find it anywhere, online the camera icon :(
  • Alex January 4, 2009 at 3:22 pm
    The one I'm using for 'gallery' I found while researching this actually, and it suited the idea better than anything else of the size I could come up with. Here's the post, icon link is in the reply: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/292041/custom-uitabbaritem-imagetitle-on-iphone
  • Ferm May 7, 2009 at 8:19 am
    I am looking for the search icon. Anyone who knows where it is? I am also having trouble with the online converter, it says: An error was encountered while publishing this resource.
  • Alex May 9, 2009 at 9:43 pm
    Hey, Ferm, you can get search as a standard button. http://developer.apple.com/iphone/library/documentation/UserExperience/Conceptual/MobileHIG/SystemProvided/SystemProvided.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40006556-CH15-SW14
  • Phil July 13, 2009 at 10:05 pm
    Someone should extract all the SDK icons and post them in one convenient package :)

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