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Action Bar Icons

New Guides for App Designers!

Check out the new documents for designers at Android Design, including more guidelines for Iconography.

Action Bar icons are graphical elements placed in the Action Bar representing individual action items.

As described in Providing Density-Specific Icon Sets and Supporting Multiple Screens, you should create separate icons for all generalized screen densities, including low-, medium-, high-, and extra-high-density screens. This ensures that your icons will display properly across the range of devices on which your application can be installed. See Tips for Designers for suggestions on how to work with multiple sets of icons.

Final art must be exported as a transparent PNG file. Do not include a background color.

Templates for creating icons in Adobe Photoshop are available in the Icon Templates Pack.

Android 3.0 and Later

The following guidelines describe how to design action bar icons for Android 3.0 (API Level 11) and later.

Size and format

Action Bar icons should be 32-bit PNGs with an alpha channel for transparency. The finished action bar icon dimensions, corresponding to a given generalized screen density, are shown in the table below.

Table 1. Summary of finished Action Bar icon dimensions for each generalized screen density.

ldpi (120 dpi)
(Low density screen)
mdpi (160 dpi)
(Medium density screen)
hdpi (240 dpi)
(High density screen)
xhdpi (320 dpi)
(Extra-high density screen)
Action Bar Icon Size 18 x 18 px 24 x 24 px 36 x 36 px 48 x 48 px

Style, colors, and effects

Action Bar icons are flat, pictured face on, and generally greyscale, depending on the application's theme. Action Bar icons should not look three-dimensional.

In order to maintain consistency across the application's Action Bar, all Action Bar icons should use the same color palette and effects.

When using the default "Holo Light" or "Holo Dark" themes, icons should use the color palette and effects shown in Figure 1 and Figure 2, below.

A view of effects for Action Bar icons for the 'Holo Light' theme.

Figure 1. Style and effects for "Holo Light" theme Action Bar icons.

1.Fill color:#333333, 60% opacity

2.Inner content:Inner content should subtract from the outer shape and consist purely of transparent pixels.
A view of effects for Action Bar icons for the 'Holo Dark' theme.

Figure 2. Style and effects for "Holo Dark" theme Action Bar icons.

1.Fill color:#ffffff, 80% opacity

2.Inner content:Inner content should subtract from the outer shape and consist purely of transparent pixels.

Note: icons should should have a transparent background; the dark background here is for effect only.

Example icons

Shown below are example extra-high-density Action Bar icons that are used throughout Android system applications.

Warning: Because resources can change between platform versions, you should not reference built-in icons using the Android platform resource IDs (i.e. menu or Action Bar icons under android.R.drawable). If you want to use any icons or other internal drawable resources, you should store a local copy of those icons or drawables in your application resources, then reference the local copy from your application code. In that way, you can maintain control over the appearance of your icons, even if the system's copy changes. Note that the grid below is not intended to be complete.

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