Want more unusual Apple tidbits? Check out our round-up of Apple merchandise. You’ll never believe some of the stuff Apple has sold…

UPDATE: New icons!
Thanks to our brilliant, sharp-eyed readers we’ve got some fresh icon easter eggs to reveal. Scroll down, the NEW ones are marked for your convenience too. We’re good like that…

If you’re an iPhone, iPad, iPod or Mac owner you’ll spend hours each day gawping at Apple icons. But you might never have realised they hold secrets, hidden histories and subtle nods to Apple in-jokes. Do you know the hidden meanings your Apple gadget holds in plain sight? Read on, and we’ll spill them all!

iPhone, iPod touch and iPad icons

Fire up the iPhone homescreen and you’ll see a host of standard-issue icons. But there’s more than meets the eye.

Maps icon
The map on the iPhone Maps icon? It’s Apple’s home address. Number 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino. The address itself is an in-joke amongst programmers, describing a never-ending loop of code, and also describes the circular road Apple’s campus is built upon. You can see that circular road, and Interstate 280 which flies right by it, in all their glory within the Maps icon, along with a pin to indicate Apple’s front door.

iPod Artists icon
Dive in to the iPhone or iPod touch’s iPod function and cast your eyes toward the bottom of the screen. There you’ll see an Artists option, illustrated as all good bands are, by a man screaming his lungs out at a microphone. But look closer. Does the silhouette look familiar? It should do to U2 fans, since it’s lead singer, and some-time Apple collaborator, Bono.

iTunes Starbucks icon
In the US, Apple and Starbucks launched a special edition of the iTunes Store together, accessible only while supping fresh java in one of Starbucks’ stores. The partnering was smart in several ways, letting Starbucks hawk their own collections of music, while Apple capitalised on customers’ downtime to make sales.

However, it also marked the first time Apple deviated from their own Human Interface Guidelines, the creed by which all iOS app developers live and die. Check out the screengrab, and you’ll see the Starbucks icon in full colour glory, whereas all other iTunes interface elements are strictly monotone affairs.

iBooks Browse icon
Fire up your iPhone, iPod or iPad for that matter and dive into iBooks. Take a look inside the iBooks Store and glance down at the Browse icon. Whose glasses are those? They look awfully like those of Apple founder, CEO and interface-tweaker-in-chief, Steve Jobs. It seems the Podfather is also a bit of a bookworm.

Find My iPhone icon
If you’ve installed Find My iPhone on your iPhone, iPod or iPad take a look at the map on its icon. It seems to be indicating an iPhone has been located in New York City. Strange, considering Apple’s spiritual and physical home is in Cupertino, on the other side of the US. So, what’s in NYC? Steve Jobs’ Manhattan apartment perhaps? There’s a good chance. Until recently Jobs owned the only duplex apartment in the iconic San Remo building, until he sold it to U2’s Bono for $15 million.

Mac icons

Hidden messages within Mac icons are much more common than their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad counterparts. Apple’s designers frequently shoehorn in neat touches, jokes and cryptic references. See if you’ve spotted all of these.

Stickies icon NEW
The Stickies app isn’t particularly obvious, but its icon easter egg certainly is. The phone number 555-7361 and the name Lou can clearly be seen scribbled on its logo. Those who watch a lot of films or TV might recognise that 555 area code, it’s reserved for fictional mentions, so don’t go dialing it now, will you?

Aperture icon NEW
If you’ve splashed out on Apple’s imaging and photography application Aperture, you’ll be able to gawp at its icon, featuring a lens which is “Designed by Apple in California” and reading “50mm 1:1.4” Those Apple designers are nothing if not fastidious in their attention to detail, and by crikey, that’s a lovely looking lens they’ve created.

Interface Builder icon NEW
What sort of pencils do Apple designers use? Open up the icon for the Apple Interface Builder, a tool used by programmers to create the screens you see on iPhone and iPad apps, and take a squiz. There’s a drawing of a pencil, a set square and a paintbrush. The pencil is helpfully labelled as a “no 2 graphite pencil with eraser”. Heading to the art supplies shop yet?

Keynote 2008 icon NEW
Apple’s presentation application forms part of iWork, but while that might seem dry and uninspiring check out the icon for it. There’s a lectern, and a Q4 2008 report… but on that report are written the lyrics from the musical Spring Awakening. Who says business can’t also have a hint of showbiz glitz? The significance of Spring Awakening isn’t known.

Console 10.5.6 icon NEW
An error message Apple meant to appear? That’s what’s on the icon for Mac OS X’s console. The app is designed to show what the Mac’s been up to behind the scenes. That includes errors, but that is the Error AY7:36 shown on the icon? So far our research has come to nothing. Do you know?

Photo Booth icon NEW
We’re hearing that the woman pictured in the photos within Photo Booth’s icon are the developer of the app. Although we can’t confirm that, even after a lot of fruitless Googling. Can you identify her? Either way, finding actual photos inside the Photo Booth icon was a nice surprise.

iCal icon NEW
If you put the icon for Apple’s iCal calendar app into the OS X dock, you’ll see it shows today’s date. However, look it up in the Applications folder and you’ll see its default setting: July 17. That’s the day Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced it in front of crowds at the Macworld Expo 2002.

One chip to rule them all NEW
Check out the icons for Apple’s firmware update utilities and you’ll see there’s a silicon chip indicated on their icons. Open the icon at full size and you can see the chip’s model number. So what, you might say? That chip pops up all over the place, from firmware updates to the Mac System Profiler. The significance of the numbers isn’t clear. Can you crack it? The code is: 810-54-2136-1 RM-NCE-1 6319-415-1239.

Windows computer icons
Access a networked Windows PC from a Mac and you’ll see a tiny beige monitor next to it. It’s small, nondescript and seems innocent. But dig out the full-size version of that icon and you’ll see the monitor is displaying a “blue screen of death” error message, a sly poke at Windows perceived unreliability by Apple designers.

Mac Mail icon
It’s so small, and semi-transparent, it’s almost invisible. But the Mac Mail icon which sits in the dock of every Mac holds a postmark labeling its origin as Cupertino, California. Of course, that’s the home of Apple. Logical, yes. Obvious? Not at all. There’s even a friendly little “Hello from Cupertino” message baked into the icon. Neat touch, no?

Apple Java icon
Java isn’t owned by Apple, but there’s an app included with OS X to run Java code. It was made by Apple designers, so obviously includes some creative flourish. On first look it’s a simple coffee cup resting on a napkin. Nothing unusual there, just a play on words around the Java name. But fire up the full size icon, and you’ll see the napkin has a doodling on it. That doodling is genuine Java code. Now that’s attention to detail.

Apple Font Book icon
Apple’s computers have long been a favourite of writers, designers and editors of every persuasion. The Font Book app is, therefore, an often used part of OS X. Its icon, however, holds a neat in-joke. The letters used to make it are A, F and K. In internet-speak, AFK stands for Away From Keyboard.

Apple Dictionary icon
There’s some more Apple wordplay at work on the cover of the dictionary featured in the Apple Dictionary icon. The words “Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit Amet Etiam” are clearly seen when the icon is viewed at full size. That’s latin for “Hello world! Etcetera”… well, it’s all up for debate. Have a look at the comments section below and join the debate!

Apple Textedit icon
The Apple Textedit icon is itself a work of literary genius. Open it in full and you’ll see a speech written across the surface of its virtual notepad. It’s an an extract of the monologue from Apple’s Crazy Ones advert, and is signed by John Appleseed, a name Apple often uses as a placeholder for names in its address books.

Old iTunes icons
Apple replaced the iTunes icon with a solid blue bauble in its latest incarnation, but previous iterations featured a musical note resting on a shining silver CD. Open up the full size icon file and you’d see that image of a CD was precise down to the finest detail: laser etched on its inside edge were the words “iTunes 7” and “Apple 2006”.

Did we miss any icon easter eggs? Hidden messages? Neat touches? Shout up in the comments box below!

  • http://erictric.com/ Eric Calouro

    Very interesting read.

    • James Holland

      Thanks Eric! Really glad you enjoyed it!

  • Graeme

    Today's icons sizes are the equivalent to the first mac monitors screen resolution

    • James Holland

      Too true – it's amazing the amount of detail in there. When I saw the writing on the inside of the iTunes CD I couldn't believe my eyes.

    • Creekside

      Are you kidding? Entire Commodore 64 games WITH speech were 1/4 the size of todays icons. Crazy!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Bell/100000600973182 John Bell

    My favourite “hidden in plain sight” Apple secret is the mac system sound “Sosumi”.

    The story goes that Jim Reekes had originally entitled the sound “Chimes”, but due to the on-going legal battle with The Beatles anything even vaguely music related was instantly rejected by the Apple lawyers.

    Jim, frustrated with this over zealous approach, joked he should name it “Let It Beep”. Again, the lawyers told Jim this wasn't possible; as an off-the-cuff reaction he said, “So… Sue Me!”. And with that, Jim finally had the name of his sample (spelt phonetically of course).

    • James Holland

      I'd forgotten all about that! Genius.

  • Ollie

    “Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit Amet Etiam” doesn't mean what you think it does. It's meaningless pseudo-Latin text used by graphic designers as a placeholder.

    • James Holland

      Ah, but check this out! http://translate.google.com/#a…

      The last bit seems to confuse Google Translate, but variously Etiam is translated as “and yet..” “furthermore”… and “etc” http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/… – Thankfully, I escaped Latin lessons, so it's the best I can do. Close enough?

      • Ollie

        I think that might be a bit of an in-joke on Google's part… Wikipedia says “A close English translation of the words lorem ipsum might be “pain itself” (dolorem = pain, grief, misery, suffering; ipsum = itself).”

        • James Holland

          DAMN YOU GOOGLE! But what about the rest?!

          • http://shawncampbell.name shawncampbell

            “Qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet” would translate to “who loves pain itself because it is pain.” Essentially, that portion of the original text is saying that no one enjoys pain because it is painful. http://translate.google.com/#auto|en|qui%20dolorem%20ipsum%20quia%20dolor%20sit%20amet%0A

          • Doug S.

            Sorry, but he's right. Lorem Ipsum is the standard placeholder text for designers the world over.

          • James

            Not to totally dork out on you but, contrary to Ollie's assertion, it's not meaningless..it's a slightly modified version of a passage (1.10.32-33) of Cicero's De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum.

            It's actually an interesting document, and no doubt the original graphic designer that started the habit used that passage because it's interesting.

            The full quote that the “lorem ipsum” part is derived from is this: “Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum, quia dolor sit, amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt, ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem. ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur?”

            Which, in turn, translates to: “Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but because occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?”

            Anyway, /nerdiness..it's really cool that you found all these little Apple Easter Eggs..I especially like the TextEdit one :)

          • Waxwing1

            Jeepers…that's all Greek to me. (Or is it Latin?)

          • http://twitter.com/u3mancr Martin Emmerich

            I hate “Lorem ipsum”. I had 7 years of Latin at school and stumble always over these incomplete sentences.

          • Jeremy Schultz

            James is right, it's not “hello world” or gobbeldygook but a passage from Cicero that happened to be used as placeholder text in the 1500s. Designers still use it for that purpose.

      • Ricksta

        Etiam=also, (i think). unlucky me for latin. ;)

        • bensillis

          It does indeed. Latin GCSE for ya!

      • http://twitter.com/waxis Warren

        Ollie's right. Lorem Ipsum and “hello world” bear absolutely no relationship to one another. In my current life I'm a graphics professional; in a previous one I wrote a lot of code. Here:

        “There’s some more Apple wordplay at work on the cover of the dictionary featured in the Apple Dictionary icon. The words “Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit Amet Etiam” are clearly seen when the icon is viewed at full size. That’s placeholder text often used by graphic artists to demonstrate how a page layout will look, without needing the final copy to get it done.”


      • groepjesverkoop

        “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nunc non metus vitae tellus bibendum iaculis posuere a est. In volutpat fringilla aliquet. Morbi elementum viverra leo ac lacinia. Mauris ullamcorper ullamcorper nulla, sit amet eleifend nunc dignissim sed. Donec posuere molestie leo vestibulum dapibus. In posuere neque ac urna vehicula pharetra. Vestibulum rutrum accumsan sapien convallis dapibus. Nunc lectus velit, tristique vel fringilla id, tincidunt sed arcu. Sed vitae tincidunt lorem. Vestibulum rutrum mollis auctor. Donec sed nibh et orci dictum ullamcorper. Etiam ultricies accumsan lacus, ut cursus odio dignissim eu. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Quisque nisi arcu, iaculis eu rutrum ut, vestibulum et arcu.

        Phasellus sit amet lorem ut tortor aliquam aliquam sed quis enim. Ut sed dui sed sem malesuada semper sed at ligula. Quisque posuere, lacus ut porta consequat, arcu enim consectetur sapien, quis ultrices est magna eget justo. Sed et libero eget nisi viverra tempus. Mauris laoreet nibh at metus interdum in hendrerit lorem malesuada. Integer porta tortor sit amet felis adipiscing vehicula quis sed arcu. Duis at mauris vitae nisl gravida pulvinar. Fusce laoreet accumsan mattis. Integer a risus ut lectus sodales feugiat.

        Maecenas lobortis libero a dui dapibus sed bibendum sapien porta. Praesent adipiscing velit et dui fringilla varius. Donec non vehicula arcu. Aliquam pellentesque, velit in vulputate dignissim, augue odio iaculis arcu, et euismod ligula augue nec enim. Vestibulum pretium, tortor sed sollicitudin lobortis, massa turpis feugiat arcu, in fringilla tortor lorem in tortor. Fusce viverra urna eu nunc porta viverra. Quisque et ligula lorem, sit amet mollis neque.

        Phasellus ut mauris diam. Fusce odio sem, imperdiet nec facilisis at, volutpat sit amet dolor. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. In cursus eleifend urna, et sodales ante fermentum sed. Etiam ullamcorper leo ut urna blandit imperdiet cursus a tellus. Aenean at sapien odio. Fusce tincidunt vehicula urna mattis fringilla. Nam sit amet malesuada lacus. Suspendisse fringilla, nunc a accumsan scelerisque, magna magna ultricies tortor, vitae cursus dolor libero eget turpis. Vestibulum sem urna, adipiscing in dapibus at, cursus a lectus. Quisque in turpis sem. Donec scelerisque libero quis orci fringilla sit amet rhoncus libero elementum. Integer magna lectus, sagittis et mattis eu, tempor eget tortor. Praesent consequat ullamcorper orci, quis fringilla elit fringilla sed. Nunc auctor lectus eu diam vulputate vehicula.

        Nulla facilisi. Quisque molestie, magna ac pellentesque luctus, eros dolor dignissim metus, a interdum ante augue sit amet dui. Cras ultricies nisl at libero scelerisque sodales. Ut elementum tempus diam, eu eleifend elit congue eget. Morbi posuere elit mi, nec consectetur nisi. Quisque vulputate elementum orci sit amet dignissim. Donec lectus est, sollicitudin vitae placerat ac, congue vel leo. Donec sed neque eget dolor semper lacinia ut ut libero. Cras ac neque et sem sollicitudin tristique id ut dolor.”. Try to translate that! It seems like google just replaces it with English dummy text instead of latin

  • Michael

    I am sorry but some of that is to far fetch even for me to believe because:
    Maps icon: well like the article states insider programmer joke. It actual has more to do with Scientology
    iPod Artists icon: could be anybody, even I can look like that
    iBooks Browse icon: just a blue pair of standard glasses and if my memory services me correctly doesn't Steve Job wear frame less glasses

    • James Holland

      Hey Michael – oh god. The 'S' word… Do, err, enlighten me…

      The iPod artists button – take a peep at this! http://www.thecleverest.com/gr… There's even an (admittedly off to a slow start) Facebook campaign against it: http://de-de.facebook.com/grou…

      And the glasses? Yep, the design's the same… I see your point, but how would you draw a pair of frameless lenses? There'd be an edge… somewhere. Also, why round not square? Why not rounded ovals? Too much of a coincidence for me, I'm afraid!

    • John A. Vink

      Infinite Loop has nothing to do with Scientology. It's a computer science term.

    • Teknyne

      Maps Icon: I fail to see the connection between “infinite loop” and scientology. Please elaborate for the rest of the class.

    • Michael

      just thought I would put this here as it is to do with my original post above
      Maps icon: Scientology have always talked about how the computer age will fall in to a infinite loop after a fore father falls. I am only speculating that they could be referring to Steve Jobs as I also believe he is part of Scientology and I would call him a fore father of the computer age with everything he has done
      iBooks Browse icon: frame less glasses have been achieved by using a glass shade lens with just arms, this I would have thought would have been much easier and cooler for Apple fans

  • http://www.mynameisjay.com/ DesinaCoda

    Quite an entertaining read. Thanks for sharing.

  • Swish2000_rim

    Check the keynote icon. I has lyrics from the musical Spring Awakening!

    • http://eee.am/notexactly notexactly

      It's more lorem ipsum.

      EDIT: I saw the 2008 version and it's as you say. The 2009 version has lorem ipsum text.

  • Guest

    The woman on the photobooth icon is actually the app's developer!

  • alexisshemale

    well from what I can see on the Safari.app icon…the glass like reflection seems to intersect right about where Cupertino is in Cali

    could be wrong but it's what I see

  • http://twitter.com/Jasonlenik Jasonlenik

    I noticed the Windows computer icons before…
    but no way I knew there were etchings on the iTunes logo!

    Have you found any things on the new iTunes and Mac App store logos? :)

    Anyways, awesome post

    • James Holland

      I've been going through them, but if you spot any do shout up!

  • http://twitter.com/cycospromos Michael

    Yeah, I think you missed the how many Mac icons are transparent. Keynote, Pages, ScreenSharing, Remote Desktop are all icons which have transparency. Also, the Aperture icon is pretty neat to photo nerds.

  • Machamster

    Lorem ipsum is NOT latin for hello world! Good grief.

    • http://dereksilva.ca/ Derek Silva

      This has already played out further above. Check some of the other comments before yours.

  • http://www.themacuniverse.com TMU-Kelly

    Calculator has a number that means something, not quite sure what it means though. 12374218.75 – iWeb icon has blog entrees, can't tell what all of them say. Keynote 9 has Q4 2009 on the icons pedestal. They changed from 2008's version.

    Spaces also has some hidden info in it too. System Profiler has a serial number on it. I know it's related to something but I cannot think of what.

    Aperture icon reads Designed by Apple in California” and “50mm 1:1.4

    • James Holland

      Nice spot! Thanks, I'll add them in a min…

  • Nonoche

    re : “Lorem Ipsum”, I see that Google does translate “Lorem Ipsum” to “Hello World!” in english (complete with the exclamation mark), but keep in mind that users can offer “better translations” themselves. Here someone must have had a little fun at people's expense. It could be Google's engineers themselves, seeing that this happens with every language it can translate latin to.

  • Daniël

    in the Notes.app on the Mac you can read 'Here's to the crazy ones' from the Think Different campaign

    • James Holland

      Think you mean Textedit Daniel! Although Notes.app? I can't find that on my Mac!

  • Chookalana

    The original iCal icon (before it would display the current date) was the 17th. That was the date it was released.

  • Chookalana

    Also, when I worked for Apple, I was told that the stocks icon on the iPhone is representative of Apple's stock when they past Dell in market value. Something that was very big in Mr. Job's mind for years.

  • Apple

    Actually the Mao icon holds another secret. The pin is placed on the location of Apple employees favorite bar.

  • ozone

    not an icon, but an included textfile that's funny to read:
    Interface Builder -> Show Package Content (*) -> Contents/Resources/Credits.rtf
    (*) hope it's correct – i'm currently not on my mac…

    • colmHally


      Some people

      Human Interface Design:
      Some other people

      Hopefully not nobody


      With special thanks to:
      Love it.!

  • http://www.techinch.com/ Matthew

    Fun … my favorite one has always been the Textedit icon. Even though I’m a PC (and now iOS too…) user, I still love the “Here’s to the crazy ones” letter :)

  • http://twitter.com/u3mancr Martin Emmerich

    But: since it is standard for designer to use that there, this is really funny.

  • http://www.lphonline.tk Lewis Hollywood

    The iCal application on Mac OS X has the date: Jul 17

    The date iCal was announced was July 17, 2002! :)

  • Epikman25

    wow who discoverd the little writeing on the CD?

  • Doihaveto

    It's also a shame the code on the java icon isn't java code, seeing that's not the syntax for its main function (and it's an empty one at that..)

  • http://twitter.com/ecammtweets Ecamm Network

    Great list. There's a mistake though. I know Wikipedia agrees with you that iCal got Jul 17th from the date of Macworld 2002, but it just can't be true. Macworld 2002 was in January.

  • Alexander Hausner

    There is more behind the Stickies icon: Lou's number 5557361 is prime

  • Davidmorr

    The Console icon text is not an error message – there is a space between the lower case y and the 7. Looks more like day and time to me: …day 7:36

    Curiously, none of the logs I looked at show the day – they just show the date in numerical form.

    Note also that the text is from a device that has a very limited number of dots to represent the characters. In particular, the y is raised in the space as there is no provision for descenders in that font.

  • Charlie

    “Lorem Ipsum” (and following) is commonly used as filler text for page layout. It gives a decent visual representation of how the design will look in real life. It is always intended to be replaced by actual text later by a copywriter. I imagine it's a play on this.

  • Blessky

    Maybe the text on the warningbox refers to “Warning: xxDay 7:36″, not “ay”.

  • stefanoblanco

    Looking at the Console 10.5.6 icon (that says WARNING AY736), it occurred to me that AY736 is the flight code of a Finnair flight between Stockholm and Helsinki. Is this in fact a subtle expression of Apple's intention to go after Nokia?

  • Gulzt

    Surely the console warning “AY” spells “MAY” with the M cut off.. isn't there an event in this month Apple could refer to? Was it when the very first virus was detected, or when Microsoft sold its first copy of windows to a consumer?

  • Richard

    RE: CONSOLE… AY 7:36 is probably a date and time, no ??

  • Andrea Bakurva

    Thanks to blogs this about iphone coz i got a iphone4 now and want to know more about iphone. thanks.

  • Guest

    Apple’s Safari icon (or at least the latest one), has North and South America visible in the background when zoomed in.  I have no idea why, but as far as I can tell, Apple uses magnetic north, not true north.

  • Guest

    Apple’s Safari icon (or at least the latest one), has North and South America visible in the background when zoomed in.  I have no idea why, but as far as I can tell, Apple uses magnetic north, not true north.

  • Anonymous

    I know the girl in the photo booth icon, she does not work for Apple, is not a model, but happened to be present when they were shooting some test photos for the creative, which they later decided to use in production.

  • Grail Duewell

    Pretty interesting.  You have read and learn new things that you never know before.  Thanks for sharing! All the best! 

  • Anonymous

    The iMovie star icon looks a lot like the Hollywood Blvd. stars. But a motion picture camera is replaced by a small camcorder.

  • Nobody

    in the directory utility icon, there is a map and a compass.  the needle points towards north, but north on the compass face points towards cupertino, california.  also, three lines converge on cupertino

  • Nobody

    also, on the hard drive icon, there is a warning label.  if viewed at high resolution, you can just barely make out “Handle the hard drive carefully to avoid damaging the circuit board” and on the next line “Make sure you are properly grounded”

  • Nobody

    On the numbers 2009 icon, the first two numbers in the totals column are 63 and 127, very special numbers in any programmers heart, because they are one less than powers of two.  i don’t know what the other numbers represent

  • Anonymous

    The “Activity Monitor” icon shows a human ECG.

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