I have an application that is currently utilizing a generic icon. I want to customize it. A shortcut to the application is placed on desktop by default. There is also an icon in the tray. I am somewhat rather clueless how any of this works - can a single .ico file contain multiple icons? What sizes are deemed to be standard for a Windows OS? Do I just need one large-sized icon that scales to smaller dimensions by the OS? Please advise.
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A .ico file can indeed contain several sizes and colour depths. Common sizes you should support:
Optionally you can also supply other sizes. If a size is requested that isn't avaiable the next-largest one will be used and scaled.