IconBox 2

17 Mar 2011

I don't know about you, but I really love icons. Just for the purpose of writing this post I had a quick look how many I exactly own. Seems I have 17633 icons. With that amount you need an icon library organizer. Today I'm having a look at a Belgian one called IconBox.

My preferred organizer

If you own as many icons like I do, folders of icons just don't cut it anymore. You need something more robust to manage it all. My preferred tool for that is CandyBar. It does its job quite nicely. However, it doesn't hurt to check out the competition, especially when the developer is Belgian.

Meet IconBox 2

IconBox is being developed by ChickenByte & The IconBlock Ltd. Back in the day (about 8 years ago) IconBox 1 was the very first icon organizer for Mac OS X. With version 2 the developers decided to completely rewrite the app with a brand new interface and lot’s of extra features.

4 modes

IconBox 2.0 is one App with 4 modes.

  • Organize
  • Customize
  • Tools
  • Online

The IconBox 2 interface

Organize

Your collections are called "Boxes". You can just drop a folder of icons and a new Box will be created with the same name of the folder you just dropped. Same goes for the iContainers format that CandyBar is using. Both can easily be imported into your catalog by using drag and drop. You can also create "Groups". A "Group" can have any number of sub-boxes. You also have "Smart Boxes", just like iTunes Smart Playlists. These folders are constantly being updated based on the criteria you have set. From the "File menu" you can also import your CandyBar collection. I couldn't verify that with mine as I have too many items. The Export feature packs some interesting options like exporting as a .zip package, the iContainer format, or as ICNS, png, tiff, jpeg, and gif.

The Trash

In the demo version that I used you can only import 250 icons. That's what I did to test it out. However, during my tests of the application I changed my mind, and wanted to remove a bunch of them so I could add a few others. I moved them to the trash. The application kept on saying that I can only use 250. After a minute I realized that what is in the trash, is also being count, so I tried to delete what was in the trash. This had me startled, I didn't saw a way of doing this immediately. Trying the usual stuff like going to the "Edit menu" and looking for Delete (was grayed out), the delete key, command-backspace, clicking on the Trash icon with second mouse button etc, no dice. Apparently after some frustration I found out that if you want to delete what is in trash you have to go to the "File menu" instead. A bit un-logical imho.

Customize

The Customize feature works just like the one in CandyBar, with one exception. I didn't notice the same functionality as the "Use These Icons" in CandyBar. This functionality is smart with some collections as it knows which icons it needs to be apply to. This way you don't need to do every icon one by one. The rest is quite similar with a way to either customize "System" icons, "Application" icons, "Volume" icons, or customizing your "Dock".

Tools

The tools section is the one feature that really sets IconBox apart from CandyBar. Right now there is only one feature available called "XRay". The "XRay" feature scans your "Application" folder and shows all Applications that it finds (except the ones that are in a folder). When you click an Application, you are able to peek inside the contents of that particular application. In other words you take a peek into all the icons that particular application is using. You can filter the icons it finds by type (png, tiff, pdf, icns). You can export "selected items" or "all items" or open it with Preview.

The "XRay" feature scans your "Application" folder and shows all Applications that it finds (except the ones that are in a folder). When you click an Application, you are able to peek inside the contents of that particular application.

Icon of the Day

The "Icon of the Day" is a nice idea to discover more icons within the application. We all know that it isn't easy to find great looking free icons. What I don't understand is that there is no way of browsing the previous days. You only see the one of today. Personally I would have added a way to go back to discover older ones, as I don't see myself booting up the app daily just to not miss an icon.

Icon sites

Next to "Icon of the Day" you get "Icon Sites", 15 recommendations of icon sites. Some are better than others but that is just personal. Overall the quality is quite high.

IconFinder

Lastly you can search http://www.iconfinder.com/ from within the application. Just enter whatever item that you need and you'll get the results. In the example below you'll see that I searched for idea.

Search www.iconfinder.com from within the IconBox 2 application.

Conclusion

Except for the Trash debacle I didn't experience any issues. Adding all the features up it seems like a worthy competitor to CandyBar. I personally think that which one you'll opt for will come down to personal taste. Both fit in nicely within Mac OS X. If you doubt I recommend that you try both for the extended period of the demo. IconBox 2 ($24.99) is little bit cheaper than CandyBar ($29). IconBox has its place within the other famous Belgian Mac applications, CSSEdit and Espresso.

Comments

  1. 1 Shodan 17 Mar 2011

    Thank you Veerle! I will try this software!

  2. 2 Tim 17 Mar 2011

    I got iconbox 2 with a Mac bundle. I like the web integration but I had issues with it changing the icons for folders. It made many of them blank. I had to revert back. Also wasn’t too stable. Candybar is still the best. The problem I have with both of these programs is that they will not display icons at 100% size.

  3. 3 Thomas 17 Mar 2011

    Out of interest do you also use this software for non “desktop icons” eg. icons purchased for web projects and similar?

  4. 4 Tim 17 Mar 2011

    I use it for all icons

  5. 5 Veerle Pieters 18 Mar 2011

    @Thomas

    Out of interest do you also use this software for non “desktop icons” eg. icons purchased for web projects and similar?

    Yup I use for all my icons. Handy way to search through the collection quickly. Doesn’t work for those that come in a single psd (ai doesn’t work) file though. You can import the psd file but they stay too small even at 512px to actually see enough.

  6. 6 Florian Soenens 18 Mar 2011

    Hi Veerle,

    this is Florian, developer of IconBox. First of all, thanks for taking the time to do this review, it’s appreciated.
    You are absolutely right about the “Empty Trash…” issue and to make up for that, we’ve just released an update (version 2.0.9) to IconBox where there is a contextual menu when right-clicking the Trash ;-)

    You can download it at http://www.iconboxapp.com or choose “Check for Updates…” from the IconBox menu.

    Best regards - Vriendelijke groeten

    -Florian

  7. 7 Thomas 18 Mar 2011

    @Veerle Pieters

    Interesting Veerle and I understand the limitation of collections gathered in 1 file eg. eps, ai and psd - almost same problem with the Finder window.

    But now that you have started this post perhaps you could go a little deeper with it?

    For instance, do you add all sizes of a collection into the software?

    Do you export from the software or just browse?

    I should probably find out myself, but could be interesting to know your methods.

    TIA Thomas

  8. 8 Veerle Pieters 18 Mar 2011

    @Florian Soenens

    You are absolutely right about the “Empty Trash…” issue and to make up for that, we’ve just released an update (version 2.0.9) to IconBox where there is a contextual menu when right-clicking the Trash ;-)

    That’s good news :)

    @Thomas

    For instance, do you add all sizes of a collection into the software?

    I only add the 512px ones if that size is available. If not I opt for the biggest size.

    Do you export from the software or just browse?

    I just browse in the application to find the icon that I am after.

  9. 9 Tim 20 Mar 2011

    @Florian Soenens Florian, this is a great app, but PLEASE add the option to view icons at 100% size in addition to the pixel size slider.

  10. 10 Thomas 22 Mar 2011

    @Veerle Pieters

    Cheers for the extra insight Veerle. I have started organizing and you’re right it is a great tool for stock icons as well.

    I have run into a problem with some collections though. Perhaps you have too? When dragging a bunch of icons into the application (CandyBar) a few icons are sometimes missing from the collection and is instead represented with an empty square.. They open fine in Photoshop and look good in both Quickview and Imageviewer. For instance the “Drunky Love Icons” look like this in my app.

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