Learn how to change the icon for Apps, Folders, and Shortcuts without using any third-party tool on Windows 11.
Customizing icons for individual apps, folders, or shortcuts is a great of personalizing Windows 11. There are a lot of options provided by Windows itself, and in case you want to explore further, multiple online platforms offer free icons for download.
The icons set by default may sometimes be too generic or simply bland, and you might want to spice things up a bit. Changing the icons does just that. Let’s see how you can change the icons with the built-in options and by downloading icons from the web.
Change Icons using Built-in Options
Windows provide various options for each of the types, be it Desktop icons (This PC, Network, Recycle Bin), folders, or shortcuts.
Change Icons for Folders
To change the icons for folders, right-click on the folder and select ‘Properties’ from the context menu. Alternatively, you can select the folder and press ALT + ENTER to launch its properties.
In the folder properties, navigate to the ‘Customize’ tab, and click on ‘Change Icon’ under ‘Folder icons’.
You will now find a list of icons that can be used for the folder. Scroll right to view more options on the list. Once you selected the desired option, click on ‘OK’ at the bottom.
Finally, click on ‘OK’ in the Properties to save the change and close the window.
The folder icon will now be changed. If the changes don’t apply right away, refresh once and the changes will come into effect.
Change Icon for Desktop Icons
Changing the icons for the desktop icons is not as simple as the others, and would require a little more time on your part.
To change the icon for Dekstop icons, either right-click on the ‘Start’ icon in the Taskbar or press WINDOWS + X to launch the Quick Access menu, and select ‘Settings’. Alternatively, you can press WINDOWS + I to directly launch the Settings app.
In Settings, navigate to the ‘Personalization’ tab from the navigation pane on the left, and select ‘Themes’ from the list of options on the right.
Next, select ‘Desktop icon settings’ under ‘Related settings’.
The ‘Desktop Icon Settings’ window will now open. Select the desired Desktop icon, and then click on ‘Change Icon’ under them.
Now select an icon from the ones listed on the box that appears, and click on ‘OK’.
Finally, click on ‘OK’ at the bottom of the ‘Desktop Icon Settings’ to apply the changes and close the window.
The icon for the Desktop icon you selected earlier will be changed.
Change Icon for Shortcuts
You can also change the icon for any of the shortcuts, be it an app shortcut, one for a folder, or a Command Prompt command. The steps remain the same for all. Also, the icon selected for a specific shortcut will only apply to that and not affect the other shortcuts for the same app.
To change the icon for shortcuts, right-click on the shortcut, and select ‘Properties’ from the context menu. Alternatively, you can press ALT + ENTER to directly launch the ‘Properties’ window.
In the Properties, navigate to the ‘Shortcut’ tab and click on the ‘Change icon’ option.
Now, select an icon of your choice from the ones listed in the box that appears, and click on ‘OK’ at the bottom.
Finally, click on ‘OK’ at the bottom of the ‘Properties’ window to apply the changes.
The icon you selected earlier will now appear for the shortcut.
Change Icon for Programs Pinned to Taskbar
You can also change the icons for programs pinned to the Taskbar and the process is similar to the one for ‘Shortcuts’.
To change the icon for programs/apps pinned to the Taskbar, right-click on the pinned item, again right-click on the app name in the menu, and then select ‘Properties’ from the list of options that appear.
Here onwards, the process is similar to that for ‘Shortcuts’ and you can refer to the previous section.
That’s all there’s to changing folder icons on Windows 11. You can’t change the icon for a particular file type using the built-in methods and would have to rely on third-party apps such as FileTypesManager for the job.
Change Icons with Custom Images
The options listed for icons on the computer are limited and many of you may want to add custom icons. It’s pretty simple, all you have to do is download the icons from the web, and then convert them to ICO format. You can download creative icons from flaticon.com or convert any other picture (preferably high-quality) into the ICO format, and set it as the icon.
Note: We recommend downloading the icons in PNG format owing to ease of conversion, although all formats would do.
After you have downloaded the icon files in PNG format, it’s time to convert them to ICO, a format recognized by Windows for icons. To convert, go to cloudconvert.com, upload the PNG files, convert them to ICO, and finally download them to the computer.
Now, transfer the ICO files to a separate folder and make sure you don’t move them around since it would lead to problems locating them for Windows.
After you have the required images in ICO format placed in a designated folder, it’s time you start changing the icons. The process remains pretty much the same as earlier but instead of choosing one from the list of options, you would have to browse and select the ICO file.
We will walk you through the process for changing the icons for folders and with the same concept, you can easily change the icons for others as well.
To change the icon to a custom one, right-click on the folder and select ‘Properties’ from the context menu. Alternatively, you can select the folder and press ALT + ENTER to launch the Properties.
Just as we did for the built-in icons, navigate to the ‘Customize’ tab and select ‘Change Icon’ under the ‘Folder icons’.
Here is the part that’s different from earlier. Instead of selecting an icon from the list, click on ‘Browse’ to select the one you downloaded earlier.
Now, navigate to the folder where you stored the ICO files for icons, select the one you want to set, and click on ‘Open’.
Now, click on ‘OK’ to confirm the icon selection.
Finally, click on ‘OK’ at the bottom of the ‘Properties’ to apply the changes and close the window.
The icon you selected earlier will now be applied to the folder. In case the changes don’t reflect instantly, a simple refresh would do the job.
You can similarly change icons for other shortcuts, apps pinned to the Taskbar and Desktop icons by clicking on ‘Browse’ and selecting the desired file, instead of choosing one from the list presented by Windows.
Changing Icon for Drives
This has been listed separately and not with the other options since the process for it is entirely different. You can either opt for a third-party app to change the icon for the drive or make modifications to the registry. Here’s how you can do it via the Registry.
Before you proceed, move the desired image in ICO format to a designated folder and ensure that you don’t change the location of the folder or the file, since you would need the path for the ICO image file. To get that, navigate to the location where the file is stored, select it, click on the ‘See more’ icon at the top, and select ‘Copy path’ from the menu.
Once you have copied the path, we can now move to the next part of the process.
Note: Since you are about to make changes to the Registry, it’s recommended that you follow the steps as it is and not make any other changes. Any lapse on your part while making the changes could render the system unusable.
To change the icon for a Drive, press WINDOWS + R to launch the Run command, enter ‘regedit’ in the text field, and either click ‘OK’ or press ENTER to launch the Registry Editor. Click ‘Yes’ on the confirmation box that appears.
In the ‘Registry Editor’ either navigate to the following path or paste it in the address bar and press ENTER.
You are now required to create a couple of new keys. Right-click on ‘DriverIcons’ in the navigation pane on the left, hover the cursor over ‘New’, and select ‘Key’ from the list of options. Use the ‘Drive letter’ for the drive for which you want to change the icon as the name of the key. For instance, we are changing the icon for the ‘D’ drive and have thus used the same name for the key.
Note: This method may not work flawlessly for removable drives if they have not been assigned a permanent drive letter.
Next, right-click on the key you just created, hover the cursor over ‘New’, and again select ‘Key’ from the menu. Name this key as ‘DefaultIcon’.
In the ‘DefaultIcon’ key, you just created, double-click on the ‘Default’ string at the left to change its value.
Finally, paste the path of the ICO file you earlier copied in the text field under ‘Value data’, and click on ‘OK’ at the bottom to save the changes. Make sure you add the path between double quotes (“). You can now close the ‘Registry Editor’ window.
The changes would automatically reflect in the File Explorer and the new icon would be visible.
With the methods mentioned above, you can easily change the icons and personalize your computer. If the options offered by Windows don’t seem to interest you, you can always set a custom image as the icon.