How to Customize Icons in Windows 7 and Windows Vista

If you are getting monotonous with the inbuilt icons used in your OS, then here is the solution. Individualizing the icons is a great way to make your PC exclusively exceptional. Here, in this article you are going to learn about how to customize the icons in Windows 7 and Vista.

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

At first you have to right-click on the desktop, and select ‘Personalize’.

Then, click the ‘Change desktop icons‘ link on the left sidebar in the Personalization window. Though the window looks slightly different in Windows Vista, but the link is same in both Vista and Windows 7. Screen shots for both of them are given below.

Windows 7:

Windows Vista:

Now, just select the icon you wish to customize, and click the ‘Change Icon’ button.  In case of  Windows 7, there is also a box to choose whether or not to allow themes to change icons, and you can un-check it if you don’t want to reflect the changes of your icon settings in the themes.

From the ‘Desktop Icon Settings’, box you can select one of the other included icons, or click browse to find the icon you want.  Click Ok when you are finished.

How to change the folder Icon in Windows 7 and Vista

You can comfortably change the icon on most folders in Windows Vista and Windows 7.  Simply right-click on the folder and select ‘Properties’.

After opening the ‘Properties’, head to the ‘Customize’ tab, and then click the ‘Change Icon’ button. It will open the standard dialog box to change your icon, so go ahead as usual.

When we perform this, it actually just creates a hidden desktop.ini file in the folder containing the following or more or less  same data:


You can also manually create or edit the file if you choose, instead of using the dialogs. Just create a new text file, put there the above code and save it as desktop.ini. You can also edit the existing one. Change the IconFile line to the location of your icon. You can also point to a .ico file. In that case you will have to change the IconIndex line to ‘0’ instead.
Note: This trick does not applicable for the Windows system folders.
An important thing in Windows 7  is that, the icon of a folder inside the library can’t be changed.  So, if you would like to change an icon in the Document library folder, right-click on it and choose ‘Open folder’ location.  Now you can change the icon as I said above.

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 and select one of the available icons or click browse to find the icon you want.

Change Icons of Running Programs in the Windows 7 task bar

When using  Windows 7, you can customize the icon of any program that are running at that instant in the task bar! But if the application is pinned to the task bar it will not work. So, if you want to customize a pinned icon you must unpin it before customizing. Interestingly, you can customize any application icon that is running by this trick, including the system application like Control Panel!
You can do it by right-clicking or simply clicking to push up the jump list and then by right-clicking on the name of the program.  Now you have to choose ‘Properties’ to select the icon from the list. You can apply this method for any application method though.
Customizing the icons in Windows 7 or Windows Vista will not give any extra benefit regarding the performance. But surely, the above tricks will make your computer standalone among the crowd.


  1. In my old hard drive, windows 7, all my desktop icons (about 50) were ‘customized’ in the process of saving them to a new hard drive, the icons remained the same until I rebooted the computer. Then virtually all my icons were changed to a generic blue green world. Not only that but I had saved my desktop icons to other drives, Sandisks, and flash drives. Now, when I access them, my ‘new’ win 7 drive changes them automatically to the ‘blue green’ world. sometimes an icon using shell32.dll will work, other times desktop icon cannot be customized at all. Very frustrating. Have tried a variety of sources for changing the icons but nothing seems to work.


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