In line with others detailing goodies (Matt Legend Gemmell and Blake C. are two I remember), here’s a new Leopard API that appears to eliminate an entire page of my old code:

FSRef ref;
// now point FSRef at some file or folder

IconRef iconRef = NULL;
NSImage* image = [[NSImage alloc] initWithIconRef:iconRef];

Then you can do setSize: if you want a particular icon size for that file or folder.

True, if you had a path to the file, you could always do:

NSImage* image = [[NSWorkspace sharedWorkspace] iconForFile:somePath];

but if you’re already handling FSRefs, getting a path back from it is slower and also suffers from the PATH_MAX limitation (1024 bytes maximum path size).

I also seem to remember that NSWorkspace fails for certain types of file system items, but I can’t quite recall which ones right now. It does work for run-of-the-mill folders, apps, and files though.