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How To Customize Windows Folder Icons

If you like to tweak the Windows interface, one option is to customize folders in Windows Explorer. Not only does it make for groovy eye candy, but it’s helpful in finding the folders you need quickly. Here’s how to do it in Windows XP and higher.

First, right click the folder you want to change to a different icon and select Properties.


The folder Properties window comes up. Click the Customize tab, then Change Icon.

Folder Properties

Now select a default icon that’s included in Windows if you find one that you like. Or, to change it to an icon you found on the web, click the Browse button.

Browse to iCon

Since this is my Star Trek folder, I found a Trek themed icon – Isolinear Chips.ico – double click on it.

Select custom icon

The new icon will appear in the change Icon screen. Click OK.

Change Icon

Under Folder Icons, the custom icon you selected will appear. Click OK again.

OK to Change icon

There you go! The folder will change to the icon you selected. In this example I changed two folders to custom icons.

folder icons changed successfully

If the folder icon doesn’t change right away, right click an empty area in Explorer and click Refresh.


Note: This process works in XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. Here’s an example of changing the folder icons in XP Pro SP3.

New Folder Icons XP

That’s all there is to it. If you like to tweak and customize the Windows UI, changing folder icons gives you a great start. Be creative and have a groovy time.

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7 Responses to How To Customize Windows Folder Icons

  1. Mandy Cochrane June 1, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    I’m running Windows 7 and there’s no Customise tab in the folder properties. The 4th tab in the Properties dialogue box is called “Previous Versions”. No options to customise in any tab that I can see!

    • Tony Luick June 3, 2012 at 9:54 am #

      Look farther down on the Properties box and you will see the clickable “change icon”. Click on it and go from there.

      • Lloyd T June 3, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

        I do not see any mention of the “change icon” either….on
        W7 Professional….

        • Tony Luick June 3, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

          Lloyd, my first answer was for changing the icons on your desktop. If you are trying to do this to hard drive files, right click the file folder, select “Customize”. When that comes up, select “change icon” near the bottom.

  2. Brian Burgess June 5, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    Yup. Right clicking a shortcut icon, then click Properties, then Change Icon.

    For a folder on your hard drive, right click >> Properties >> Customize Tab then the Change Icon button. Just like shown in the article.

  3. Tony Luick June 7, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    Just for clarification, I tried this with non-program files, and it didn’t work. Must be for program files only.

  4. Dawson Vilamaa April 3, 2015 at 5:17 am #

    When I open the ico file in properties it says there are no icons found

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