How Do I Change a Desktop Icon?

Customizing the look of your desktop by altering the icons for folders, files and shortcuts on your computer is an easy and quick way to customize its appearance. You can even change specific file extensions’ icons so they all use one image.

Steps may differ slightly depending on your operating system, but are generally similar.

Icons for folders

If you want to change the icon for any folder on your Windows computer, there are various methods available to you. One method is using File Explorer; right-clicking on your chosen folder and selecting Change Icon from the drop-down menu will bring up a selection of available icons for it – replacing its default look without altering its label in taskbars or any other area.

Change the icons for specific file types using this method; however, doing so will affect all similar files on your system at once and could make identifying files within similar groups more difficult – especially if multiple different types have the same filenames.

One alternative way of quickly changing folder icons requires diving deeper into the Registry. Press Windows key+R on your keyboard to open Run dialog, and type in “shellicons” for this window that lets you customize where Windows looks for folder icons. In addition, its user interface options enable you to select new icons for every folder on your computer.

Folder icons can also be altered by holding Ctrl while scrolling up or down on your mouse wheel, and by increasing or decreasing their size using the View menu and choosing Small icons, Medium icons, or Large icons – however these won’t match those installed onto other computers.

Change icons for shortcuts (icons that link to other applications or folders) by right-clicking on them and choosing Properties, followed by Change Icon at the top of the window that opens up. Select an icon from either a pre-loaded list or navigate directly to where you have stored an ICO image file before choosing from either list of available icons or folder containing stored images from which to choose your new icon(s).

Icons for files

Change desktop icons on macOS is straightforward. Simply locate the file or folder whose icon you wish to alter and right-click and select Get Info; an information window will pop up with all sorts of detail about it; at the top you’ll see a small icon you can click to access a selection menu with various available images; once selected simply press Command + V or Edit > Paste on your keyboard to apply changes and see it go into effect!

Windows makes changing icons a bit more complex than on Android; you cannot alter every single one; however, certain can be personalized. First you must create a.ico file of your custom icon (be sure that its resolution is at 256×256 pixels). For this task you can use any free image editor; on Windows 10, however, use System Settings app > Personalization directly for this process.

Add your ICO file to the registry next. In the left pane, navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionShell Icons; right-click any blank space and select “New,” followed by “Expandable String Value,” name it 3 and add in your file path for 3 and 4. Do this step again for values 4, 5 and 6, making sure each one has an unique name.

Once completed, reboot your computer in order for your changes to take effect and show their desired icons. Note that some applications or programs may need restarted before seeing their new icons appear properly.

If the default icons that come with your operating system don’t meet your tastes, there are numerous places online where you can download new icons free of charge. Flaticon, one of the more popular icon-making websites, provides many different choices; there are also sites offering curated collections. However, be wary when downloading packs from unknown sources as some could contain malware or other threats; stick with official or well-known packs from reliable sites in order to be safe.

Icons for shortcuts

Change desktop shortcut icons similarly to files: right-click and choose Properties in the context menu to make changes, and your chosen icon should now appear on its icon.

Windows makes it simple to arrange icons on your desktop by name, type, date and more. Additionally, they can automatically rearrange themselves or be set into a grid layout. To do so, right-click an empty area on your desktop and select View; this opens a pop-up menu that includes Auto Arrange options.

As another option, use the built-in theme settings to personalize your computer’s background, buttons, menu and icons – though be wary that certain themes could cause icons to move unpredictably; be sure to read any terms and conditions before applying a theme!

If you’re having trouble seeing your icons on your screen, enlarging them might help – however this will only increase their graphic size but not what’s associated with them – like text labels or descriptions.

Problems could stem from either having your desktop icons switched off, or your default settings for their visibility being incorrect. To verify if this is the case, right-click an empty area on your Desktop and hover the cursor over “View”, before clicking Show desktop icons to verify if they are visible.

If they’re missing, click Show desktop icons again to reinstate them. Another possibility could be that your computer’s default setting is to snap icons to a grid which may cause them to move around on their own. To change this setting, right-click an empty space on your Desktop and hover your cursor over “View”, where a menu will appear with options that include one for “Snap to grid”. Finally, to switch this off click that option instead.

Icons for Windows apps

After spending hours organizing your Windows icons, it can be distressing when an overnight change to the operating system jumbles them all back together again. Fortunately, there are simple solutions to restore order quickly.

Start by identifying the app or folder whose icon you’d like to change by right-clicking and choosing “Get Info.” A window will pop up with all kinds of details about it, including its current icon. Toward the bottom is a “Change Icon” button; click it, choose your new image from its selection list and click OK before going back into Properties mode where your new icon will be visible.

Change icons of Taskbar-pinned items more efficiently by right-clicking on each program and selecting “Change Icon.” As above, look for an icon file compatible with the system (usually an ICO file) as part of this process.

There’s no easy way to customize all the icons built into Windows; for this purpose you will require third-party software. If you wish to use an image as an icon for a program it would be wise to convert it first using one of the free online services before trying to use it as such.

For those needing more advanced options, using IconUltraLarge or GIMP to create icons may be easier. But this requires fulfilling specific criteria – including square resolution and saving it as an ICO format file.

Nirsoft provides a File Types Manager tool as a free download, which offers another solution. Install it on a computer capable of running 64-bit programs; most Windows 11 installations should work fine with it. When installed, this will provide a list of known file types where you can double-click any you wish to change for further options – including one with three dots which enables you to change its icon for all files containing this particular type.