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I was looking for an icon to represent a "smart folder" and when I did a search on Google, most of the icons came up as:

  • A folder icon (may or may not be purple)
  • Plus a "gear" icon (may or may not be purple)

My question is why purple? Is this standard?

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I have no idea, I assume this is a branding thing from some company. I don't know of any particular reason for it... –  Ben Brocka Jun 28 '12 at 22:26
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Perhaps because, at least to the best of my knowledge, purple is a color that is not yet identifiable with anything symbolic just yet? Yellow is caution, red is a warning, green is complete/save, etc. –  Vin Burgh Jun 28 '12 at 22:28
    
color is rarely useful as a universal part of iconography given the range of cultures, screens, and levels of color blindness. –  DA01 Jun 28 '12 at 22:43
    
Red is perhaps identified with warning and green with safety (in UX including in traffic lights) due to the fact red symbolizes fire and green symbolizes natural green fields. There are non-UX symbolic meanings for most colors. These meanings are of course culture dependant, however, UX usually uses Western culture's conventions. –  Danny Varod Jun 29 '12 at 10:55
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@DannyVarod I don't really think so..."Why was this done?" "Because that's how Apple did it" doesn't really help. I guess "How should Smart folders be represented in OSX" is marginally more helpful, if obvious... –  Ben Brocka Jun 29 '12 at 13:18
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closed as off topic by Ben Brocka Jun 29 '12 at 11:51

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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

'Smart Folders' are a proprietary thing in OSX. Their icon is purple:

http://www.trickyways.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/smart-folder-with-changed-name.png

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The color Purple has a few meanings (that I know of):

  • A balance between hot (red) and cold (blue)
  • Purple is a deep and less common color which is identified with mystery

A quick search also returns these results:

Purple is warm and cool. Explore its meaning and symbolism, colors that go with purple and the light and dark shades from palest orchid to deep dark violet and indigo.

Shades of Purple: These words are synonymous with or represent various shades of the color purple: amethyst, eggplant, indigo, lavender, lilac, magenta (see fuchsia), mauve, mulberry, orchid, plum, pomegranate, puce, royal, thistle, violet, wine.

Nature and Culture:

Purple is royalty. A mysterious color, it is associated with both nobility and spirituality. The opposites of hot red and cool blue combine to create this intriguing color.

Source: http://desktoppub.about.com/cs/colorselection/p/purple.htm

Meaning of the Color Purple

Purple embodies the balance of red simulation and blue calm. This dichotomy can cause unrest or uneasiness unless the undertone is clearly defined at which point the purple takes on the characteristics of its undertone. A sense of mystic and royal qualities, purple is a color often well liked by very creative or eccentric types and is the favorite color of adolescent girls.

How the color purple affects us mentally and physically * Uplifting * Calming to mind and nerves * Offers a sense of spirituality * Encourages creativity

Source: http://www.squidoo.com/colorexpert#module1541679

Purple has been used to symbolize magic and mystery, as well as royalty. Being the combination of red and blue, the warmest and coolest colors, purple is believed to be the ideal color. Most children love the color purple. Purple is the color most favored by artists.

Source: http://crystal-cure.com/purple.html

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