How to Customize Any Icon in Windows
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Of all Windows tweaks How to Create Custom Start Menu Tiles in Windows 10 How to Create Custom Start Menu Tiles in Windows 10 Windows 10 is jam packed with customization options, but some features are neglected. Like the Start Menu. We will help you turn your plain Windows 10 Start Menu into a crisp and beautiful command console! Read More , changing icons can be one of the most frustrating. Luckily, we did the work for you! If there’s any icon you’d like to change, no matter the location, here’s a guide to help you get one step closer to a truly custom Windows experience.

Disclaimer — These methods have been tested, and accepted, on both Windows 7 and Windows 10. If you are using a different version of Windows, your results may vary.

Where to Find Icons

If you’re looking for icons, FlatIcon is where it’s at. FlatIcon provides high quality icon packs, along with individual icons, for free download.

FlatIcon Gallery Example

Download the PNG version JPEG, GIF, or PNG? Image Filetypes Explained and Tested JPEG, GIF, or PNG? Image Filetypes Explained and Tested Do you know the differences between JPEGs, GIFs, PNGs, and other image filetypes? Do you know when you should use one instead of the other? Fear not, MakeUseOf explains everything! Read More of your icon. It’s best to gather these icons in a folder labeled PNG icons to separate them from the following, converted files.

Windows uses icon files (ICO) instead of the regular image files. Plenty of online resources let you change your JPG or PNG files into ICO files. My favorite is ConvertICO, which provides an easy to use interface and one-click conversion. You can even link the PNG files from FlatIcon, so you never have to download unnecessary files.

Keep your converted icons in their own folder and place them somewhere permanent. Moving icon files after you have linked to them may cause issues with your icons.

Change Program Icons

Icons are usually modified so they seem presentable on your desktop. Desktop icons are easily changeable, as the ability is present by default on Windows 10. First, find the program whose icon you want to change. Right-click the program and select Create shortcut. Drag the shortcut to your desktop. Right-click the shortcut and select Properties. Your Properties window should open to the Shortcut tab. Click on the Change Icon button.

Change Icon in Windows

Find the ICO file you want to use. Once you’ve found your file, double-click it. In the following window, click OK. Then, Apply. If the switch does not work instantly, right-click your desktop and select Refresh.

Pin Programs With Custom Icons to Taskbar

The easiest method to pin programs with custom icons to the taskbar is modifying desktop icons. Modify the desktop shortcut icon first, right-click the program and select Pin to taskbar.

Unspaced Taskbar in Windows 10

If you’d like to hide your desktop programs, right-click your desktop, click on View, and un-check Show desktop icons.

Create Blank Icons

Blank icons are useful to order taskbar icons based on program type (games, office programs, utilities, etc). Third-party docking programs RocketDock + Stacks Docklet: Not Just A Dock, But A Complete Desktop Organization Solution [Windows] RocketDock + Stacks Docklet: Not Just A Dock, But A Complete Desktop Organization Solution [Windows] RocketDock has been one of the best choices for a Mac-like dock in Windows for years. That's why it's on our Best Of Windows Software page. In fact, you've probably heard of it. But there's... Read More provide a similar service. Unfortunately, there’s no default method of creating spaces in your Tarkbar. To create empty spaces, create a folder on your desktop and rename it Spaces.

Right-click within the folder, click New, and select Text Document. You don’t have to write anything into the document. Go to File, select Save As, and enter a title with the added extension EXE. For example, Space1.exe. Do this for as many spaces as you need, using a different name for every file. You should have an empty text document along with however many EXE documents you created in your Spaces folder.

Spaces Folder in Windows

Right-click on these files and select Pin to taskbar. You can also drag these files into the taskbar. These programs will not open, but will act as program placeholders for your icons. To create the blank icon effect, position your space programs on the taskbar correctly. Then, CTRL + right-click the space programs and select Properties. Click on Change Icon and browse the default icons. There should be an assortment of blank icon in this folder. Select the blank image and click Apply. Your taskbar icon should now be blank.

Spaced Taskbar in Windows 10

Change Drive Icon

Changing drive icons without third-party software requires that you edit your registry settings How to Fix Windows Registry Errors & When Not to Bother How to Fix Windows Registry Errors & When Not to Bother In most cases, fixing our registry will do nothing. Sometimes registry errors cause havoc after all. Here we'll explore how to identify, isolate and fix registry problems – and when to not bother at all. Read More . In the Start Menu, type run and hit Enter. In the Run window, type regedit and click OK. Registry Editor will open. Using the + button, navigate to the Applications page: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Applications.

Right-click on Applications, mouse-over New, and select Key. Name this key Explorer.exe. Right-click your newly created Explorer.exe, mouse-over New, and select Key. Name this key Drives.

Within this registry folder, you’ll be able to create the entries necessary to change the drive icon. Create a key within your Drives directory named C. The letter will correspond with the letter assigned to your drive. You can do this with any drive, as long as you repeat the process within your Drives folder. Within the C folder, create a final key named DefaultIcon. The final path to your drives custom icon folder will be HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Applications\Explorer.exe\Drives\C\DefaultIcon. Click on the DefaultIcon folder.

Registry Edit for Drive Icons in Windows 10

On the right-hand side of the window, there is a parameter named (Default). Double-click on this parameter and enter the address of your icon in the following prompt. You can find your address by opening the folder containing your icons and clicking on the address bar.

Address Bar Access in Windows 10 File Explorer

Find your ICO files, copy the address of the containing folders, paste the address into DefaultIcon’s (Default) parameter, add your icon’s title (with the included ICO extension), wrap your text in quotations, and select OK. For example, “C:\Users\Rosebud\Downloads\ICO\monkey.ico”. Finally, close your Registry Editor. Your icon should be changed.

Changed Drive Icons in Windows 10

Change Individual Folder Icons

Folder icons How to Individualize Folder Icons in Windows with Custom Images How to Individualize Folder Icons in Windows with Custom Images Have you ever thought about changing the icons for individual folders on Windows? Here's a simple way to do it. Read More are easier to change than others.

To change your folder icon, right-click on the folder and select Properties. Select the Customize tab, and click the Change Icon button under Folder icons.

Customize Folder Icons in Windows 10

Select the icon you want to use and Apply it. Then, if the icon does not change, right-click on an empty space in your window and select Refresh. You should now be able to see your newly changed folder icon.

Here are some folders before the change.

Before Folder Icons Changed in Windows 10

Here are those same folders after icon tweaking.

After Folder Icons Changed in Windows 10

Change All Folder Icons

If you’re unhappy with the folder icon in general, you’re in luck! To change the folder icon used in Windows, open your Start Menu, type run, and open the Run application. Type regedit into the prompt and click OK to open the Registry Editor. From this window, use the + button to follow the path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\CurrentVersion\Explorer.

Right-click on the Explorer folder, select New, and then Key. Name the key Shell Icons. Click on your newly created key. Right-click the window located on the right, select New, then Expandable String Value. Name this new string 3. Double-click your new string and, under Value data, paste the locations of your icon in quotations. For example, “C:\Users\Rosebud\Downloads\ICO\folder.ico”.

To enact the change, CTRL + SHIFT + right-click your taskbar and select Exit Explorer. Your taskbar will be temporarily removed. Now, press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC to open your Task Manager. In the Task Manager window, select File and then Run new task. In the following prompt, type explorer.exe and click OK.

Here is an example of what your files look like before the change.

Folder Icons Before in Windows 10

Here is that same screenshot after the change.

Folder Icons After in Windows 10

Change Icons by File Type

FileTypeMan — a file type manager by Nirsoft — allows users to easily change icons for file types. First, create a new folder to contain FileTypeMan. Move the FileTypeMan ZIP file to this folder and unzip it. Once your file is unzipped, double-click FileTypeMan.exe to get started.

FileTypesMan Screenshot

The program will load all of your preset file type icons. To find the icon you want to change, press CTRL + F on your keyboard and search for your extension. Text files, for example, have the TXT extension. Double-click the extension to open your icon settings.

FileTypesMan Icon Settings Screenshot

Click on the button next to Default Icon. A window similar to the default icon change window will open. From there, choose the icon file you wish to use and click OK. Leave all other settings blank. You should be able to see your newly changed icon.

Be an Iconoclast!

This may seem like a somewhat trivial process, but it never ends when it comes to customizing Windows How to Change the Look and Feel of Your Windows 10 Desktop How to Change the Look and Feel of Your Windows 10 Desktop You just upgraded to Windows 10 and you're wondering how you can customize and personalize it. We help you turn your desktop into a virtual Windows experience, one step at a time. Read More to suit your liking. As nice-looking and convenient as they are, no one should be forced to use default icons. Now, you don’t have to!

Is there an icon we missed? What methods do you use to change your icons? Let us know in the comments below!

Explore more about: Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows Customization.

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  1. Jason Foos
    July 7, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    A handy trick that I utilize for icon organization and quick access, is to store my collection in a folder named " [] Icons " (no quotes) in my system32 folder. The small box you see in the file name (prior to Icons) is simply a left and right bracket [ ] With no space in between. When Windows sorts alphabetically, it lists special characters before A, B, C etc. So my folder named [] Icons is always at the top in my system32 folder. It makes navigating to my collection much quicker. For a little style, {} works also.

    The brackets trick works on any folder or file name in any directory. I use it to keep important things at the top of lists/trees for easier access.

  2. Anneke
    November 29, 2017 at 3:23 am

    Related to changing desktop items you say:
    "Find the ICO file you want to use. Once you’ve found your file, double-click it. In the following window, click OK. Then, Apply. If the switch does not work instantly, right-click your desktop and select Refresh."
    Which is great if there is more than one .ico file in the folder that comes up in the properties, cange icon screen, which in the case of chrome on my win10 pc does not. Perhaps maybe adding .dll file locations to be able to choose from other .ico files like:
    C:\WINDOWS\system32\shell32.dll - which has lots of icons used in various parts of Windows 10.
    C:\WINDOWS\System32\pifmgr.dll - contains old-style icons, since Windows 95.
    These are just 2, for others I found this page helpful:

  3. Andrew Yan
    September 10, 2017 at 9:32 am


    I'm not sure if my last comment attempt was posted, so here it is again just in case it didn't.

    Great write-up on changing icons in Windows. However, could you kindly continue with this topic to cover the Applications icons as well as the Cloud Drives icons (such as Dropbox, Box, Backup & Sync, etc.)

    Looking forward to it.

    Thank you.


  4. Andrew Yan
    September 10, 2017 at 9:29 am


    Great write-up on changing various icons in Windows. However, could you please continue with this topic to cover changing the icons for Applications as well as for Cloud Drives (like Dropbox, Box, Backup & Sync, etc.)

    Looking forward to it.



  5. Ty Buchanan
    May 24, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Some system folder icons cannot ever be changed. These are, "This PC", "Desktop", "Network" and "Homegroup". You should point it out on this website.

    • Jason Foos
      July 7, 2018 at 12:42 pm

      Not totally correct. You can change these icons, but finding the correct place to do so can be tricky.

      For example, you can change "This PC" icon by navigating to:
      C:\Users\"user"\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\System Tools

      Right clicking and choosing properties on this icon will give you the option to change icon.

      You can also simply use the Desktop Icon Settings under Themes to change "This PC" and your "Network" icons....Recycle Bins too!

      :) Have fun!

  6. Steve
    March 2, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    How do you change a profile folder icon? You can use the normal customize function in the Properties dialog. The option is not available there.

  7. Milos
    February 7, 2017 at 3:38 am

    I already have string value of 3 in regedit , I suppose it was made by 'Microangelo on display' when I changed some icons before and I still use it also.. what next .. add some other value to make my system icons to change or ... how to do that and not to mess up something?

  8. Squalle
    September 26, 2016 at 8:38 am

    I used to have icons of drums, Marvin the Martian, etc. It's funny how after having custom icons for so long, reloading your OS or getting a new PC, suddenly you can't find anything anymore.