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HOW-TO GEEK BOOKSRead our first book, the HTG Guide to Windows 8, or check our upcoming books. Enter your email below to get exclusive access to our best articles and tips before everybody else. Want to change out the icons on your desktop and more?  Personalizing your icons is a great way to make your PC uniquely yours, and today we show you how to customize your Windows icons.
Now, click the “Change desktop icons” link on the left sidebar in the Personalization window.
Select the icon you wish to change, and click the Change Icon button.  In Windows 7, you will also notice a box to choose whether or not to allow themes to change icons, and you can uncheck it if you don’t want themes to change your icon settings. You can select one of the other included icons, or click browse to find the icon you want.  Click Ok when you are finished.
You can easily change the icon on most folders in Windows Vista and 7.  Simply right-click on the folder and select properties. Click the Customize tab, and then click the Change Icon button.  This will open the standard dialog to change your icon, so proceed as normal. Note that this isn’t available for all folders, for instance you can’t use this to change the icon for the Windows folder. To change the icon of a shortcut on your desktop, start menu, or in Explorer, simply right-click on the icon and select Properties. If your computer is running Windows 7, you can customize the icon of any program running in the taskbar!  This only works on applications that are running but not pinned to the taskbar, so if you want to customize a pinned icon you may want to unpin it before customizing it.  But the interesting thing about this trick is that it can customize any icon anything running in the taskbar, including things like Control Panel! Right-click or click and push up to open the jumplist on the icon, and then right-click on the program’s name and select Properties.  Here we are customizing Control Panel, but you can do this on any application icon. Select an icon you want (We switched the Control Panel icon to the Security Shield), or click Browse to find another icon.  Click Ok when finished, and then close the application window.
The next time you open the program (or Control Panel in our example), you will notice your new icon on its taskbar icon.


Please note that this only works on applications that are currently running and are not pinned to the taskbar.  Strangely, if the application is pinned to the taskbar, you can still click Properties and change the icon, but the change will not show up. You can easily change the icon on your internal hard drives and portable drives with the free Drive Icon Changer application.  Simply download and unzip the file (link below), and then run the application as administrator by right-clicking on the icon and selecting “Run as administrator”. Now, select the drive that you want to change the icon of, and select your desired icon file. Click Save, and Drive Icon Changer will let you know that the icon has been changed successfully.
You will then need to reboot your computer to complete the changes.  Simply click Yes to reboot. Many people don’t like the arrow on the shortcut icon, and there are two easy ways to do this. If you’re running the 32 bit version of Windows Vista or 7, simply use the Vista Shortcut Overlay Remover.
This gives you a lot of ways to customize almost any icon on your computer, so you can make it look just like you want it to.  Stay tuned for more great desktop customization articles from How-to Geek! Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!
You actually can change the icon of programs pinned to the taskbar even if they are not running, well sort of. To remove the arrows on a shortcut, I just create a blank icon, move it to the windows folder, and edit the registry to create a Shell Icons key and make the overlay point to the blank icon. I am a fan of Geek and use it as daily diet lessons, save it in works, the topics that I can’y read it right away.
To get the change to stick with pinned programs, just unpin them, change the icon like it shows here, and then re-pin them. Over the course of years and many major revisions of Windows, articles like this have appeared regularly.


I keep my shortcut icons on the Quick Launch toolbar (Vista x64), and the arrow on the shortcut icon disappears as soon as the icon is moved to the Quick Launch bar.
Great tips- except that in Vista and XP I could use actual custom icons by browsing to a file that contained images…in windows 7 it seems (and having followed your directions) that ONLY those icons contained within the dll are allowed. DID YOU KNOW?The state of Arizona leads the world in UFO sightings with 2.78 reported sightings per 100,000 citizens. Disclaimer: Most of the pages on the internet include affiliate links, including some on this site. The easiest way to do it is simply create a shortcut for whatever program you wish to pin on the taskbar on the desktop. All you need to do is rebuild the icon cache or restart after changing the icon and it will appear. I think they are UGLY, and would like to use some of the fun ones you can find online- how can I do that? Once the link to the custom icon breaks, as it always always does, you’re left with a hideous generic icon. When selecting your new icon it takes you to the screen where it shows all the DLL files just select BROWSE and select your ICONS folder. Once you do that just drag it to the taskbar, and there you go, custom icon all the time, running or not.



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