Create and customize Windows 10 icons yourself

Tired of the standard Windows icons? Then replace it with homemade. You can do this for programs, folders and files. As long as you have the right tools. This is how you make Windows 10 icons yourself.

Before we start, it is useful to briefly consider how icons work. In Windows, icons use the ico file format. In practice, of course, several pictograms are often needed, in different sizes. These are usually saved as a set in a dll file. A good example is the file imageres.dll. You will find it in the root of the hard drive, in the subfolder System32.

We first list files that contain interesting icons. You can use this as a basis for your own: you can modify an existing icon and use it to create a new one. You can also create an icon all of your own.

Windows Icon Locations

\explorer.exe

\System32\accessibilitycpl.dll (for example, C:\Windows\System32\accessibilitycpl.dll)

\System32\comptui.dll

\System32\comres.dll

\System32\ddores.dll

\System32\dmdskres.dll

\System32\dsuiext.dll

\System32\ieframe.dll

\System32\imageres.dll

\System32\mmcndmgr.dll

\System32\mmres.dll

\System32\moricons.dll

\System32\mstsc.exe

\System32\mstscax.dll

\System32\netcenter.dll

\System32\netshell.dll

\System32\networkexplorer.dll

\System32\pifmgr.dll

\System32\pnidui.dll

\System32\sensorscpl.dll

\System32\setupapi.ll

\System32\shell32

\System32\wiashext.dll

\System32\wmploc.dll

\System32\wpdshext.dll

View icons

With external software you can open the dll files and view the icons. You can also remove the icons from the file. Then you can edit them and create your own icon set. We use the free IconViewer program for this. This program adds an extra tab to the Windows Explorer properties window and is therefore easy to use.

After installing IconViewer, open the Explorer. Browse to the dll file whose icons you want to see. Right click on it and choose Characteristics. Now open the tab Icons. Note: This tab only appears if the file contains icons. An overview of icons appears. Now you can remove the individual icons from the file and save them.

Select the icon and choose in the box Device images the desired size and resolution, for example: 64x64, 32 bit. In the box preview (to the right of the size box) you can see an example of the icon. Press the button Save to save the icon. Specify a destination folder and name the icon.

By default, the file is saved as an ico file, but this is not necessary. In the box Save as type you can also choose to save the image as a bitmap or png image. Choose that option if you want to edit the icon, for example to make it your own variant.

Want to tweak Windows 10 even further? You can read many more tips in the Windows 10 management course of our Tech Academy, including a practical book.

Edit icons

Do you want to create your own icon based on an existing icon? We use IcoFX for this. This program is unfortunately not free, but you can try it for free for 30 days. After installation, choose in the program for File, Open and point to the icon file. Choose the icon you want to customize and click Extract.

The icon is displayed in the main window. Via the toolbar Tools you can customize the icon at the pixel level, for example by changing the colors or adding new elements. The editor bears a resemblance to Microsoft Paint. Use the toolbar colors to choose the desired colors. Finally, save the file as an ico file. Choose File, Save As and choose at Save as type in front of Windows Icon (*.ico).

Use own image as icon

It is also possible to use an existing image as an icon. Think of a png, jpg or bmp image. Via the website icoconvert.com you can convert an existing image and, if necessary, update it and make it suitable as an icon.

click on Choose File and point to the file you want to make an icon for. click on Upload. In the second step you indicate which part of the image should end up in the icon. Cropping is useful if the original image is larger than what you want to show in the icon.

In the third step you can optionally add a frame, but luckily this step is not necessary. Then indicate the file format to which the image should be converted. Choose here ICO for Windows 7, Windows 8, Vista and XP. Contrary to what the website suggests, the ico file is also suitable for Windows 10.

Finally click Convert ICO. Once the conversion is done, the link will appear Download your icon(s) and you can download the icon.

Swap icons

Now that you have your own collection of icons, you can swap the existing ones. An easy way to set your own icon for a folder, file or program is to create a shortcut. You can then give this shortcut its own icon.

Right click on the desktop and choose New, Shortcut. After creating the shortcut, right click on it and chooseCharacteristics. Click on the tab Shortcut and click Other icon. click on To leaf through and point to the icon.

Finally, you can also change the default icons on the desktop. Open the settings window (Windows key+I) and choose Personalization, Themes. Click on the right side of the window Desktop Icon Settings. In the newly opened window, select the icon you want to change and click Other icon. Point to the new icon and click OK. Repeat for all icons you want to customize.

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