How to include icons in your Photoshop/Illustrator designs

I am assuming you design with Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator on Windows, version CC 2015.

Grab the icons in TrueTypeFont (.ttf files) from any of your font provider. I use these font providers

Install the icons on your machine by double-clicking the .ttf file. This will make it available in the Fonts folder.

In Illustrator

Open up Adobe Illustrator and create a new project/file. At the Menu Bar, look for “Windows > Type > Glyphs” and open Glyphs window. You can pin it anywhere you want in your workspace.

In the selected area, search for the font you installed, in this case Material Icon.

Note: You have to be in the Typing tool for it to work. Just press T in your keyboard

After searching and selecting the Material Icons, the icons will show in the Glyphs window as shown below.

You can then select which icon you want by double clicking on an icon, change the size of the icon view using the two buttons on the bottom right corner of the window, and even search and select another icon font.

This is very useful when you are designing for mobile, or even including icons in your web/graphics designs.

In Photoshop

Start up Photoshop and create a project.

Go to the Menu Bar and locate Glyphs in the Window Menu (“Window > Glyphs”). Pin the Glyphs window in your workspace for easy access.

Searching for an icon font is same as is with Illustrator. Just search or scroll to the icon font you installed.

This is handy when you want to include icons in your design instead of creating them from scratch.

Please note that for proper updating of the fonts, you can either make them Symbols or you can “Create Outlines” by right-clicking on the icon to make the edges editable. Using the font as is and updating the font by installing the icon font will mix up your icons and generally mess up your design. It’s advisable to make them editable (by “Creating Outlines”) and then making them Symbols. I learnt this the hard way.


You can follow me on Twitter or Medium for more design hacking or design conversations.

I was reading UX Myths (pdf) while I was writing this post. You should too.

Use icons wisely.

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