How to Change Folder, Drive and Shortcut Icons in Windows 10, 8 and 7

I love customizing how my computer looks, and I’m sure you do too. Changing the theme and wallpaper of your Windows PC has been a topic that has been well-discussed all throughout the internet. However, there are not that many articles as to how to change icons in Windows. Well, I’m here to fill in that gap. So if ever that you’re wondering how to change the folder, drive and shortcut icons in Windows, I’ll be answering that question.

And don’t think that these methods do not apply to your Windows version. Generally, Windows has not changed the steps on how to change icons since Windows XP. So if whether you’ve got Windows 10, Windows 8 or Windows 7, you won’t have an issue here.

But you might be asking yourself why you would go the extra mile just to change your icons. So…

Why Should I Change my Icons?

It’s not totally necessary for you to change your icons, to be honest. It’s more of a customization freedom that you’re allowed to do on Windows. And each time I get my hands on a new PC, it’s one of the things that I must do. Hhere are some benefits that I see when I change my icons:

  • You can easily identify which icon is which at a glance
  • Easy organization of your desktop icons and folders
  • Customizing how everything looks feels satisfying
  • Change the general theme of your desktop
  • You can make your PC yours

These are the main reasons as to why I’m a big fan of customization. Somehow, it raises my efficiency because I know straight away what to click. And if you’re as forgetful as I am when it comes to finding the files you need, it’s going to be an awesome feature to use. You might have your own reasons, or maybe you’d like to find out how. Your PC is a big canvas that you can customize the way you want to!

So with that said, let’s jump right into it!

Changing the Folder Icon

As I’ve said before, you have a lot of customization freedom on Windows, and it’s fairly easy to do. You can download an icon set for Windows, use default icons, or even go as far as making your folders invisible for security purposes.

Default Windows Icons

Windows actually has a lot of built-in icons and you freely choose which icon you want. So if you’d like to make a certain folder look like the recycle bin, then you definitely can! You can also access older default Windows Icons like those from Windows 8 and Windows 7. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Find the folder that you want to modify, or you can create a new folder if you’d like.
  2. Right click on the folder to pull up the options menu.
  3. Click on Properties.
  4. On the folder properties, navigate to the Customize tab.
  5. Click on Change Icon… You have a preview of the current icon on the right side.
  6. A list of icons appears. Here you can see all of the default icons that are installed on your computer.
  7. Select the icon that you want to use.
  8. Click OK, then click on OK in the Properties window to apply the changes.
  9. Done!

And just like that, you’ve modified the way that you folder looks. Some of the older icons might also be available to you. So, if you want a blast from the past, you can change your icons to Windows 95 icons. But it doesn’t end here! There are a lot more icon options for you to choose.

Downloading an Icon Pack

Sometimes the default icons are just not enough and you’d like something a little more different. You can actually download icon packs from all over the internet. Here’s some of the icons that you can find on some websites:

On most websites, the files are in PNG or SVG. However, since Windows uses the ICO file type for its icons, you would have to convert the file into the ICO file type. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Find an icon that you want to use through the internet, like this website for example.
  2. Once downloaded, open the file using MS Paint.
  3. Open the File menu and select Save As
  4. In the Save As menu, change the File Type to 24-bit Bitmap
  5. Add .ico to the end of the filename, Click on Save
  6. Windows might warn you that the quality of the file might go down, just click on OK
  7. The file has been successfully converted to ICO!

Alternatively, you can use an ICO conversion website like icoconvert.com. But the fastest and safest way that you can convert your icon is to simply just use MS Paint. I know that there is a little bit more work to be done but it’s all worth it in the end.

Once  you’re done with the process, you can simply use the same steps as changing default Windows icons to apply it. However, you’d need to change the file that it’s using.

Simply click on Browse… and find the ICO file that you edited.

Changing the Drive Icon

The Drive icon on your PC might be boring for you, so if you want to change it, here’s how. Take note, though, that of all the icon changes that we you will be doing, changing the drive icon is by far the most challenging. Windows doesn’t let you change the drive icon by default. But don’t let that daunt you, because I’ll be walking you through each step of the way.

  1. Find the icon that you want to use, and make sure that it’s an ICO file. If you want to make an ICO file or convert a file, check the steps above.
  2. Paste the file into the root of the drive (C:\ or D:\)
  3. Open Notepad and type the following.

[autorun]

 

ICON=iconname.ico

  1. Change iconname.ico into the name of your icon
  2. Click on File then Save
  3. Set the file type as All Files
  4. Save the file with filename autorun.inf
  5. Copy the autorun.inf file to the root of the drive
  6. Restart your Computer
  7. Done!

What we’re doing here is instructing Windows to change the icon of the file through the autorun file. Just make sure that both the file and the icon is in the root of the drive. That is, it’s saved in C:\ and not in a separate folder. Otherwise, it’s not going to work. Additionally, you can hide the icons to reduce the clutter on your drive.

Note: If you want to revert back to the defaults, simply delete the two files and restart your PC.

If that process is too much of a hassle for you, you can also choose to use drive icon application. There are a lot of options on the internet such as Drive Icon Changer. They’re fairly easy to use and you won’t have any problems using them.

Changing the Shortcut Icon

Last but not the least, if you’d like to change the Shortcut Icon, it’s also quite easy. If you’re getting tired of the bland look of your favorite app icon, then here’s how you can do it. For this demonstration, I’ll be using Google Chrome. However, I’m not saying that Google Chrome has a terrible icon. I like it, actually.

Anyways, let’s take a look at what we need to do:

  1. Download the icon that you want to use. Here are some of the icons that I was able to find with a simple Google search.
  2. Make sure that the file type is .ico, otherwise, you might need to convert it using the steps above.
  3. Right click on the app shortcut and click on Properties
  4. On the Shortcut tab, click on Change Icon…
  5. Select the icon that you want to use. By default, you’ll be shown the built-in Windows Icons but you can click on Browse… to change it to file that you downloaded.
  6. Click OK, then click on OK in the Properties window to apply the changes.
  7. Done!

This process applies to almost any app shortcut that you can think of. And the ability to change the shortcut icon might help you identify at a glance which program is which. Personally, I change my shortcuts to more colorful icons to signify their importance. That might also apply for you.

Final Words

Changing your icons definitely spices up the way your desktop looks like. Whether you have Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10, you’ll eventually want to have a different look on for your PC (I know I would!). When things start to look bland, you can change the icons again to shake things up a little. It’s not too difficult to make the changes and you can simply follow the instructions above as to how your going to go about it.

Once you’ve customized your computer fully, you’ll know that it’s completely yours, and it’s really satisfying. And that’s the point of all of this.

Did this guide help you out? Let me know in the comments!i

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