Customize Your Icons in Windows 7 and Vista

Posted: January 8, 2011 in Tips and Tricks, Vista, Windows 7

Want to change out the icons on your desktop and more?  Personalizing your icons is a great way to make your PC uniquely yours, and today we show you how to customize your Windows icons.

Change the icon for Computer, Recycle Bin, Network, and your User folder

Right-click on the desktop, and select Personalize.


Now, click the “Change desktop icons” link on the left sidebar in the Personalization window.


The window looks slightly different in Windows Vista, but the link is the same.


Select the icon you wish to change, and click the Change Icon button.  In Windows 7, you will also notice a box to choose whether or not to allow themes to change icons, and you can uncheck it if you don’t want themes to change your icon settings.


You can select one of the other included icons, or click browse to find the icon you want.  Click Ok when you are finished.


Change Folder icons

You can easily change the icon on most folders in Windows Vista and 7.  Simply right-click on the folder and select properties.


Click the Customize tab, and then click the Change Icon button.  This will open the standard dialog to change your icon, so proceed as normal.


This basically just creates a hidden desktop.ini file in the folder containing the following or similar data:

[.ShellClassInfo]
IconFile=%SystemRoot%\system32\SHELL32.dll
IconIndex=20

You could manually create or edit the file if you choose, instead of using the dialogs. Simply create a new text file named desktop.ini with this same information, or edit the existing one.  Change the IconFile line to the location of your icon. If you are pointing to a .ico file you should change the IconIndex line to 0 instead.

Note that this isn’t available for all folders, for instance you can’t use this to change the icon for the Windows folder.

In Windows 7, please note that you cannot change the icon of folder inside a library.  So if you are browsing your Documents library and would like to change an icon in that folder, right-click on it and select Open folder location.  Now you can change the icon as above.


And if you would like to change a Library’s icon itself, then check out this tutorial:

Change the icon of any Application Shortcut

To change the icon of a shortcut on your desktop, start menu, or in Explorer, simply right-click on the icon and select Properties.


In the Shortcut tab, click the Change Icon button.


Now choose one of the other available icons or click browse to find the icon you want.


Change Icons of Running Programs in the Windows 7 taskbar

If your computer is running Windows 7, you can customize the icon of any program running in the taskbar!  This only works on applications that are running but not pinned to the taskbar, so if you want to customize a pinned icon you may want to unpin it before customizing it.  But the interesting thing about this trick is that it can customize any icon anything running in the taskbar, including things like Control Panel!

Right-click or click and push up to open the jump list on the icon, and then right-click on the program’s name and select Properties.  Here we are customizing Control Panel, but you can do this on any application icon.


Now, click Change Icon as usual.


Select an icon you want (We switched the Control Panel icon to the Security Shield), or click Browse to find another icon.  Click Ok when finished, and then close the application window.


The next time you open the program (or Control Panel in our example), you will notice your new icon on its taskbar icon.


Please note that this only works on applications that are currently running and are not pinned to the taskbar.  Strangely, if the application is pinned to the taskbar, you can still click Properties and change the icon, but the change will not show up.

Change the icon on any Drive on your Computer

You can easily change the icon on your internal hard drives and portable drives with the free Drive Icon Changer application.  Simply download and unzip the file (link below), and then run the application as administrator by right-clicking on the icon and selecting “Run as administrator”.


Now, select the drive that you want to change the icon of, and select your desired icon file.


Click Save, and Drive Icon Changer will let you know that the icon has been changed successfully.


You will then need to reboot your computer to complete the changes.  Simply click Yes to reboot.


Now, our Drive icon is changed from this default image:


to a Laptop icon we chose!


You can do this to any drive in your computer, or to removable drives such as USB flash drives.  When you change these drives icons, the new icon will appear on any computer you insert the drive into.  Also, if you wish to remove the icon change, simply run the Drive Icon Changer again and remove the icon path.

Download Drive Icon Changer

This application actually simply creates or edits a hidden Autorun.inf file on the top of your drive.  You can edit or create the file yourself by hand if you’d like; simply include the following information in the file, and save it in the top directory of your drive:

[autorun]
ICON=[path of your icon]

Remove Arrow from shortcut icons

Many people don’t like the arrow on the shortcut icon, and there are two easy ways to do this.


If you’re running the 32 bit version of Windows Vista or 7, simply use the Vista Shortcut Overlay Remover.


If your computer is running the 64 bit version of Windows Vista or 7, use the Ultimate Windows Tweaker instead.  Simply select the Additional Tweaks section, and check the “Remove arrows from Shortcut Icons.”


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