Microsoft Office icons are copyrighted by Microsoft and this prevents us from using them in non-Microsoft applications due to their licence terms.

I'm trying to find some alternative Microsoft Office icons whose licence allows for use in commercial applications. One of the important things about the icons is that anyone looking at them should be able to instantly recognise what they represent (e.g. Excel).

Does anyone know of any alternative icons and have links to them?

  • You forgot a thing that is (to me) very important : what should be the size and depth (8 / 16 / 32 bits) ? For my wide screen (1920x1080 / 32 bits) I'm only looking for huge and nice 32 bits icons. If you want your app to work on smartphone this is not the same stuff you may be looking for. – Olivier Pons Jun 4 '09 at 9:57
  • Specifically 32x32 and 48x48 at 32 bit depth. – Ian Jun 4 '09 at 10:06

Don't look exactly like the office icons of course, if they did they would be the copyrighted office icons and not an alternative, but I personally like the Silk Icon set. It's free and contains many nice looking and useful icons.

It's a preview of all the icons as well there.

As for icons representing excel documents, etc, you could for example use the page_white_excel icon. Think there should be some more general spreadsheet icons there too, but can't find it now...

  • Not bad, but unfortunately they're all quite small and PNGs so not suitable for my use. But +1 for the suggestion. – Ian Jun 4 '09 at 9:43
  • posted another answer with a different set which have bigger icons. If you want the icons in a different format, you can always convert them to something else. Nice thing with PNG is that it is lossless, so they are nice to use as a base. – Svish Jun 4 '09 at 9:59

Visual studio comes with an image library containing a lot of icons that are in a similar style to Office. These are for use in any application. I am unsure of the exact copyright on them so you might want to google it.

You can find the image library zip at:

C:\program files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\Common7\VS2008ImageLibrary\1033

  • I think Ian is talking about icons that represent Office product logos, i.e. Word icon, Excel icon, etc. – Romain Verdier Jun 4 '09 at 9:34
  • I believe these are just the standard icons for toolbars etc. What I'm looking for is actual application like icons. – Ian Jun 4 '09 at 9:35

You can have a look at Deviant Art :

Office icons

But it's likely that what is proposed there is already breaking Microsoft license though.

  • 3
    sadly almost all of them are for non-commercial use – Anders Rune Jensen Jun 4 '09 at 9:51

I'm guessing you mean file icons, not the applications. As long as office is installed you can use code to load the icons at runtime e.g. GetFileIcon("doc", SHGFI_ICONSIZE_LARGE)

    const uint SHGFI_ICON = 0x100;
    const uint SHGFI_USEFILEATTRIBUTES = 0x10; // Use file extension not name
    const uint SHGFI_ICONSIZE_SMALL = 1;
    const uint SHGFI_ICONSIZE_LARGE = 0;
    const uint FILE_ATTRIBUTE_NORMAL = 0;
    const uint FILE_ATTRIBUTE_DIRECTORY = 16;

    struct SHFILEINFO
        public IntPtr hIcon;
        public IntPtr iIcon;
        public uint dwAttributes;
        [MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.ByValTStr, SizeConst = 260)]
        public string szDisplayName;
        [MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.ByValTStr, SizeConst = 80)]
        public string szTypeName;

    private static extern IntPtr SHGetFileInfo(string pszPath, uint dwFileAttributes, ref SHFILEINFO psfi, uint cbSizeFileInfo, uint uFlags);

    static System.Drawing.Icon GetFileIcon(string extension, uint size)
        IntPtr hImgResult;    //the handle to the system image list
        SHFILEINFO shinfo = new SHFILEINFO();

        if (string.Compare(extension,"folder",true)==0)
            hImgResult = SHGetFileInfo("", FILE_ATTRIBUTE_DIRECTORY, ref shinfo,
                                        SHGFI_ICON | size);
            hImgResult = SHGetFileInfo(extension, FILE_ATTRIBUTE_NORMAL, ref shinfo,
                                        SHGFI_ICON | SHGFI_USEFILEATTRIBUTES | size);
        return System.Drawing.Icon.FromHandle(shinfo.hIcon);
  • 1
    I'm not sure that is actually allowed? "Microsoft product icons are the thumbnail-size images indicating that a Microsoft product has been installed on your operating system. Use of Microsoft icons is permissible in training manuals or documentation written for and/or about a Microsoft product." "Microsoft does not allow the use of its icons in advertising, in ... in software applications, ... Icons are not to be used as "artwork" or design elements" I know you're not redistributing them, but I don't think it fits with the licence still. – Ian Jun 4 '09 at 10:00
  • Just about every application with an folder or file browser type view does (and is expected to do) this. – SillyMonkey Jun 4 '09 at 10:15
  • However controls such as the FileDialog are actually Microsoft controls... though it does make you wonder where the line is drawn. – Ian Jun 4 '09 at 10:35
  • i was referring more to, for example, the main window in nero etc. as far as i know there's no way to populate a listview with the proper icons without using something similar to the above. – SillyMonkey Jun 4 '09 at 11:26

How about the Tango Icon Library then? Also looks nice and have a wide variety of icons. They are also in png (which I believe is the best really...) but also in svg. And the pngs are in 16x16, 22x22 and 32x32 sizes.

  • I don't see any MS Office looking icons there. – Fletch Aug 30 '11 at 10:43
  • Well, if they were MS Office looking, they would be MS Office icons, which has license terms the question guy didn't like. I assumed he wanted an icon set with representations of common MS Office like actions (cut, paste, save, new document, et cetera...) – Svish Aug 30 '11 at 20:07
  • I think he wants something that looks like the Excel icon, but isn't produced by MS. Like a kind of vaguely "XL" looking green splodge on top of some cells or something. – Fletch Aug 31 '11 at 7:37

Unfortunately I've been unable to find anything that is similar to the Office icons, while being safe enough to not infinge Microsoft Copyright. There were some very good ones on DevianArt, however they looked like they'd almost been ripped off from the MS ones so we decided not to use them.

Should any come up I'll update this answer :)


Fatcow hosting has some OK ones, amongst other fantastic icons. You should include a link to their page in your credits. Not sure what "your credits" has to be but I guess the whole thing is a social & SEO ploy, if your app is on the public internet then you'll need to put it somewhere that people and search engines can find it.

For a private business app not on the public internet I guess you could bury the link fairly far down with a good conscience.


I like going to gnome-look.org and searching through the icon themes. These icon collections tend to be covered by the GPL and frequently include icons for common mimetypes (such as word and excel).


I am a fan of dry icons.


here is the free use license


alt text
(source: dryicons.com)

  • After more comments, this is probably not what he wants. The MS Office icons may be hard to find legally although IANAL... – Nick Van Brunt Jan 22 '10 at 22:40

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