[Guide] How to Change Default Folder Icons in Windows
This tutorial has been written by AskVG reader "Slinky Grafix".
This simple method of changing the standard, default and ugly folder icons in Windows operating system has existed for many years and does not involve modifying any system file using Resource Hacker or any other tool. It can be applied easily with the help of a simple Registry tweak.
To make it easier to follow, this tutorial has been broken down into 2 parts:
- PART 1: How to change default folder icon
- PART 2: How to customize individual folder icon
PS: Also see the "Tips for Using Customizing Icons" given at the end of this tutorial.
So without wasting time lets start the tutorial:
PART 1: How to Change Default Folder Icon
1. On your keyboard press WIN+R keys together to open the Run dialog box. Now type regedit and click on OK button to launch Registry Editor.
2. Now go to following Registry key:
3. With the Explorer key highlighted, right-click on it and in the pop-up menu select New -> Key option. Name this new key as Shell Icons
4. Now in right-side pane, right-click on a blank area and in the pop-up menu select New -> String Value, do this twice and name these string values to 3 and 4
5. Double-click on each String and set their value to C:\Icons\Folder.ico
6. Now close Registry Editor and open an Explorer Window.
7. Open C: Drive and create a new folder and set its name as Icons
8. Open Icons folder and place the icon file (.ICO) you want to use as your new folder icon in this folder. Name this new icon file as Folder.ico
9. Now restart your computer to take effect.
Once the computer restarts, open an Explorer window and you should see your new folder icons.
If you like to view large folder icons as shown in the image above, you can change this in the "View" menu on the Explorer toolbar. To make large icons show correctly you'll also need to enable "Always show icons, never thumbnails" option in the "Folder Options" menu:
The change mentioned above in the "Folder Options" has one undesirable effect which prevents thumbnail images appearing on some files. Thankfully however, there's a simple solution to this problem. You'll need to download and install the free program called "Sage Thumbs". Sage Thumbs will restore those missing thumbnail images once more:
PART 2: How to Customize Individual Folder Icon
So if you've got this far, you might have noticed that some Windows Icons have not changed, especially in the "Users" folder. Changing these individual folder icons or any others for that matter is very easy to accomplish.
Simply right-click on the folder you wish to change and in the "Properties" tab, select the "Customize" tab. Here you can choose another icon of your choice.
Here's a before screenshot:
Here's a screenshot after customization:
Tips for Using Customized Icons
Can I use any kind of Icon?
=> No! Only icons with the file extension '.ico' can be used. Windows 10 can show very large icons in the Explorer window, each icon is made up of several icons of differing sizes, typically these sizes are as follows:
256, 64, 48, 40, 32, 24, 20, 16 [All icons are 32-bit true color + Alpha channel]
If you're not sure about a particular size, open the icon in an icon editor to see what sizes are contained within the icon. There are many free icon editors available for this purpose. My favorite is IcoFX.
Where can I get customized icons?
=> Luckily there are many icon resources available online, here are some of my favorites:
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