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Use Custom Icons in MS Windows


A quick and easy method personalize the MS Windows interface is to use custom icons. A custom icon can be used to replace the standard, and sometimes drab, icons on program and file folder shortcuts.

There are several custom icons included in MS Windows but additional icons can be downloaded from the Internet or for some real fun, you can create your own icons! The following two procedures detail how to create you own custom icon using MS Paint and how to change a standard icon to a custom icon.

Create a Custom Icon with MS Paint

  1. Open the Paint program by selecting Start | All Programs | Accessories | Paint.

  2. From the Image menu, select Attributes.

  3. In the Attributes dialog box type 32 in the Width and Height boxes. Make sure pixels is selected. Click OK.

  4. Select the Magnifier tool (the magnify glass on the toolbar) and then select level 8 magnification. This will zoom in on the drawing area making it easier to see the design as you work.

  5. [Optional] Gridlines may be added to the drawing area by typing CTRL-G. The gridlines may be removed by typing CTRL-G again.
  6. Use the various paint tools and colors to create your unique icon.

  7. When the icon is completed, save the file by typing CTRL-S which will open the Save dialog box. Type in a file name and with an ICO extension. (This extension will not be listed in the file type box just append it to the file name).

TIP: Take note of the location that icon is saved, as it will be needed later when changing an icon.

Assigning Custom Icon to Program or Folder Shortcut

NOTE: The icon can only be changed on program or folder shortcuts. To create a shortcut, right-click on the program or folder and select Create shortcut. If prompted to place the shortcut on desktop, select Yes.
  1. On the program or folder shortcut, right-click and select Properties.

  2. In the Properties Dialog, select Customize tab.

  3. Click on Change Icon button.

  4. Either select an icon from the list or click Browse to browse to the location of your custom icon.

    NOTE: If no icons appear after selecting Change Icon then in the File Name box type %SystemRoot%\system32\SHELL32.dll to get a listing of standard Window icons.


  5. Click on OK to finish.


Now you should have your own customized icon!
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Content copyright © 2013 by Allison Nunn. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Allison Nunn. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Allison Nunn for details.

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