Customize Your Desktop Icons in Windows

September 2016

An icon will allow you to recognize and differentiate the various programs and folders on your computer. However, you may find that some icons may not be visible enough on your desktop, and can be easily lost among your folders. Windows gives its users the ability to change and customize any image, folder, or software icon to help you distinguish your files.

This article will take you through the process of customizing your desktop folders step-by-step.

Customize Windows Desktop Folders

Change Icon of Hard Drive or USB

Changing the bureau icons of a hard drive or USB key is not as simple as tweaking a few properties. In order to replace your current icon, you will need to add a specific file to the root of your hard drive (or USB key) to replace the icon currently in use.


The first step is to do a search for the image you'd like to use as a desktop icon. There are a variety of sites that offer free icons, such as icones pro, or Free Icons, but you can also choose any image you'd like, as long as the file is in .ico format.

Next, register the image to the root of your drive or USB key. In this example, we saved an image of a Lego piece to the root of a USB key, under the name "key.ico":

Next, open Windows Notepad and enter the following code. Note that the name you used to register your icon should replace "key.ico."

[Autorun]
ICON = key.ico

Now go to File > Save As. Go to the root of your drive or your key, select the drop down menu Type: All Files and name your file autorun.inf:

Refresh your window using the F5 key, and the icon for your drive or your key will be changed.

How To Modify a Shortcut Icon

Windows also allows you to change and customize your Shortcut folder icons. This process is much easier than changing a hard drive icon and can be done in your Windows Properties.

Right-click on the icon in question and choose Properties. Then click on the option that reads Change Icon and choose from the icons offered by Windows. If none of the options suit you, you can download and/or import other options by simply clicking Browse.

Click OK to validate your choice, and then click OK to close the Properties window. The shortcut icon will then be changed.

Create Custom Icons with IcoFx

If you prefer to create your own icons using a photo, or your own drawings, you can do so with icon editor IcoFx. Download your free 30-day trial here.

Convert Photo into Icon

To create a photo icon, simply open the software, and use File > Open to find and select your photo. Once your photo has been selected, select the Create Image icon from the list of options.

The software will generate a list of sizing options. We recommend choosing 256 x 256 for an icon with a larger margin.

Finally, click on File > Save As and name your icon. You can set your photo icon by using the process explained above.

Draw Personalized Desktop Icon

IcoFx also provides users with the tools necessary to draw their own icons. Go to File > New > New Icon. Then select your preferred icon size (we recommend 64 x 64 px). Confirm by clicking OK.

Use the tools in the application to paint your custom icon. All tools are located in the left-hand column (brush, paint bucket, eraser, etc.). Once you finish your design, click on File > Save As and name your icon. Then set it to your desktop using the process explained above.

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