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Download Icon Collections and Editor - Customize and Organize Your Icons Easily

Download Icon: What It Is and How to Design It

Icons are small graphical representations or symbols that people see on computer screens or other electronic devices to represent an application, object, file, or function. They are an essential part of user interface design, as they help users understand and use digital interfaces more easily and efficiently.

A download icon is a type of icon that indicates the action of downloading a file or content from a server or a website to a local device, such as a computer, smartphone, or tablet. Download icons are usually placed next to the file name, size, or format, or on a button that initiates the download process. Some examples of download icons are:

download icon

  • A downward arrow pointing to a horizontal line

  • A cloud with a downward arrow

  • A floppy disk with a downward arrow

  • A folder with a downward arrow

These examples show how different platforms and devices use different styles and shapes for their download icons, but they all convey the same meaning and function.

The Benefits of Using Download Icons

Using download icons for user interface design has many benefits for both users and designers. Here are some of them:

Enhance Usability and Scannability

Download icons make it easier for users to scan through pages and screens and find the files or content they want to download. They also provide visual cues that inform users about the availability, status, and progress of the download. For example, a download icon may change color, shape, or animation to indicate that a file is ready to download, downloading, or downloaded.

Save Screen Space and Reduce Text Clutter

Download icons can save screen space and reduce text clutter by replacing long sequences of text with short, memorable visual symbols. This can improve the readability and aesthetics of the user interface, especially on small screens or devices with limited bandwidth. For example, instead of writing "Download PDF (2.5 MB)", a designer can use a simple download icon next to the file name.

Convey Meaning and Prompt Action

Download icons can convey meaning and prompt action by using established conventions and associations that users recognize and understand. They can also create a sense of urgency or excitement by using colors, shapes, or animations that attract attention and encourage users to click or tap on them. For example, a bright green download icon with a bouncing effect may suggest that a file is new, popular, or limited.

Create Visual Consistency and Brand Identity

Download icons can create visual consistency and brand identity by using styles, colors, and shapes that match the overall design theme and tone of the user interface. They can also reflect the personality, values, or message of the brand or product by using unique or creative symbols that stand out from the crowd. For example, a music streaming app may use a musical note as its download icon.

Best Practices for Designing Download Icons

Designing effective download icons requires more than just shrinking an image down to a small size. It requires careful consideration of shape, color, usage, and context. Here are some best practices for designing download icons:

Use Established Conventions and Avoid Ambiguity

Download icons should use shapes and symbols that users are familiar with and expect to see when they want to download something. They should also avoid ambiguity or confusion by using clear and distinct icons for different types of files or content. For example, a download icon for a video file should not look like a play button, as that may imply that the user can watch the video online instead of downloading it.

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Use Labels or Tooltips if Meanings are Not Clear

Download icons should be self-explanatory and intuitive, but sometimes they may need additional text or information to clarify their meanings or functions. This can be done by using labels or tooltips that appear when the user hovers over or clicks on the icon. For example, a download icon for a zip file may have a label that says "Download compressed file" or a tooltip that says "This file contains multiple files in one folder".

Simplify Shapes and Details

Download icons should be simple and minimalistic, as they have to fit in small spaces and be legible at different sizes and resolutions. They should avoid unnecessary details or elements that may distract or confuse the user. They should also use geometric shapes and straight lines, as they are easier to scale and render than curves or angles. For example, a download icon for a document file may use a rectangle with a downward arrow, rather than a detailed paper icon with text and shadows.

Consider Size, Color, and Contrast

Download icons should be sized appropriately for the user interface and the device they are displayed on. They should not be too large or too small, as that may affect their visibility and usability. They should also use colors that match the design theme and tone of the user interface, as well as the brand identity and message of the product. They should also use contrast to make the icons stand out from the background and other elements. For example, a download icon for an image file may use a bright color that contrasts with the image thumbnail.

Test Icons in Different Contexts and Devices

Download icons should be tested in different contexts and devices to ensure that they work well and look good in various situations and scenarios. They should be tested for functionality, usability, accessibility, readability, aesthetics, and compatibility. They should also be tested with different types of users, such as novice or expert users, young or old users, or users with different preferences or needs. For example, a download icon for an audio file may be tested with users who have hearing impairments or use screen readers.


Download icons are an important part of user interface design, as they help users download files or content from digital interfaces more easily and efficiently. They have many benefits for both users and designers, such as enhancing usability and scannability, saving screen space and reducing text clutter, conveying meaning and prompting action, and creating visual consistency and brand identity. To design effective download icons, designers should follow some best practices, such as using established conventions and avoiding ambiguity, using labels or tooltips if meanings are not clear, simplifying shapes and details, considering size, color, and contrast, and testing icons in different contexts and devices. By applying these tips and resources, designers can create download icons that improve the user experience and satisfaction of their products.


What are some common download icon styles?

Some common download icon styles are:

  • Material design: This style uses simple shapes, flat colors, and shadows to create icons that are consistent with Google's design guidelines.

  • Glyph: This style uses monochrome icons that are composed of thin lines and curves to create icons that are elegant and minimalist.

  • Flat: This style uses colorful icons that are composed of solid shapes and no gradients or shadows to create icons that are modern and vibrant.

  • Skeuomorphic: This style uses realistic icons that mimic the appearance of physical objects or materials to create icons that are familiar and detailed.

Outline: This style uses hollow icons that are composed of thick lines and no fills

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