Windows operating system provides a variety of customization options. It enables users to change the appearance and functionality for more personalized user experience. For example, you can change the default icons assigned to folders, files, drives and desktop icons. There are various reasons for you to change these icons:
- Making the Windows environment look trendy and attractive
- To add emphasis to your important files / folders or drives
- To identify your favourite files easily
- Improve usability and accessibility
Whatsoever is your purpose, this article explains how you can change icons for folders, file types and storage drives in Windows. You can apply these settings in all Windows versions like 11, 10, 8 and 7.
Customizing Windows Icons
Simply put, icons are symbolic images that represent objects, adding aesthetic value as well as enhancing the visual identity of the objects. Besides, icons act as shorthand for delivering meaning that users decode instantly. Windows assigns default icons to various objects but you can replace these pictorials representation to match your taste and preference. Here are some icon customization options.
How to Change Folder Icon in Windows?
Changing folder icons is simple and straightforward.
- Open the folder location (on your desktop or File Explorer), right-click the folder and select “Properties”.
- Note that the right-click context menu will look small in Windows 11. However, you can still select “Properties” option and follow the same process as explained below. If you are not comfortable with the small menu list, check this article on how to reset back Windows 11 context menu like Windows 10.
- Go to the “Customize” tab and under the “Folder icons” section, click the “Change Icon” button.
- A new dialogue opens displaying a list of icons in the Windows icon library.
- Click to select an icon of choice and click the “Ok” button to exit the dialogue.
- Click “Apply” followed by “Ok” to apply the changes and close the folder properties.
Customizing Folder Icon with Custom Icon
If you cannot find an icon that you like, you can add your custom icon. To do so,
- Click the “Browse…” button on the “Change icon for…” dialogue to select an icon from your PC storage.
- You should have downloaded and saved the icon (in the correct format) in advance.
- Now click the “Ok” button on the dialogue windows and then “Apply” and “Ok” to complete the changes.
How to Change Drive Icon from the Registry Editor?
Unlike the folder properties, when you open the drive properties you will not find the “Customization” tab to modify the icon. However, you can still change the icon for an individual drive in Windows by editing the system registry.
- Press the “Win + R” keys on your keyboard, run the following command, “regedit” and click the “Ok” button.
- Navigate through “Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\.”
- Expand the “Explorer” folder and scroll down to “DriveIcons” key. Right-click the key and select “New” the “Key” to create a new key in the folder.
- Rename the new key with the letter of the drive you want to modify (C, D, F and so on).
- Right-click the drive key and create subkey and rename the subkey to “DefaultIcon”.
- Select the “DefaultIcon” key and on the right pane double click the “(Default)” to set the value.
- Under the “value data” textbox, type the path for the icon you want to change within double quotes.
- The icon for the specified drive will change automatically. You can go to the file explorer and click “This PC” to see all the drives.
- To reverse the changes, go back to the registry editor and delete the new keys you created above.
How to Customize File Icons in Windows?
If you have a custom file that does not have a default icon or you don’t like the current icon, you can change to an icon of your choice.
Changing File Shortcut Icon
The first option is to customize the icon for a file shortcut.
- Go to the file location, right-click the file and create a shortcut for the file.
- Move the file shortcut to the desktop. Right-click the icon and select “Properties”.
- Click the “Change icon” button under the “Shortcut” tab.
- Select an icon from the resulting pop-up and click “Ok”. Then click “Apply” and “Ok” to save the changes.
- You can also browse for a custom icon saved on your computer.
How to Customize Icon for a File Type?
- Open the registry editor, navigate to “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts” and expand the key for the file extension you need to customize. In this case, we expand the “.txt” folder.
- Click the “UserChoice” and on the right panel, note the data value for the “ProgId” key, ‘txtfile’.
- Now navigate to “HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\[ProgId]\DefaultIcon”. Replace ‘ProgId’ with the data value noted above.
- If you do not find the “DefaultIcon” folder, you will need to create one manually.
- Double click the “Default” key on the right side and type the path of the custom icon in the “Data value” text field.
- Click “Ok” to save the changes. Exit the registry editor, restart your PC, and refresh the icons after reboot.
Whether you want to customize icons in Windows to improve the way they look or to make it easy to identify your favorite objects, Windows offers several methods to do so. With the above tips, you can customize the icons for your folders, files or hard disk drives in your Windows PC.