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Windows 7: imageres.dll/shell32.dll Modification For Global Icon Change

03 Sep 2012   #1

7 Pro
imageres.dll/shell32.dll Modification For Global Icon Change


I have read many threads on this forum as well as many other forums to attempt a modification of the imageres.dll or the shell32.dll file for custom folder icons.

There are many different supposed solutions but all the posts I've seen so far are mainly ineffective in modifying imageres.dll. I will list these solutions which can be found in this forum and many others with my results below.

(1) Take ownership of the DLL's using command line or registry hacks to overwrite the DLL's located in the windows folders. The problem here is that the DLL's are in use the moment you login to windows which means that even after gaining full control, the files can't be edited since they are in use by the system.

(2) Use programs like resource hacker and restorator to directly edit the DLL's to include your custom icons; problem here goes back to the earlier problem; the files are still in use and can't be edited no matter what.

(3) Use programs like the original replacer or Windows 7 file replacer on files copied form the Windows folder. Even after having copied the DLL's the replacers won't work, again since the files are in use. One solution in programs like Windows 7 file replacer and restorator offer a workaround that can make the changes after a reboot. This is the strangest part because the windows 7 will actually prevent this editing or replace the edited files with the original ones if you try this reboot method. The reboot method is supposed to solve this problem but like I said files are still unchanged after numerous attempts.

(4) I have even tried using a Linux live CD to get into the folders and overwrite the original DLL's with modified ones; STILL with no success. This was even more strange than the reboot method failing. Because it means that even if you modify the DLL's in the Linux environment, Windows 7 is actually going to check imageres.dll upon boot to make sure that no modifications are made to it AND will actually replace it with the original WITHOUT the need of any repair/restore disc!

As you can see I have gone through every possible solution with no results. To all those who have posted those solutions I mentioned above and would like to add to this thread please do.

I have found some other workarounds for getting custom icons in windows 7:

(1) Use Iconpackager; unfortunately using Stardock's program means that you will have to disable thumbnail previews which is just not worth it.

(2) Use a registry hack to change all folders again this means no thumbnail preview that ruins the Windows 7 experience.

I have managed to get the shell32.dll files changed but the one that really matters is imageres.dll.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

03 Sep 2012   #2

7 Pro


I started noticing that folders are "occasionally" displaying the new icons; each time the icons are rebuilding to the new icons. This is strange since neither one of the imageres.dll files have these new icons in them. My guess is that they are from the modified shell32.dll files. It looks like 7 is loading from imageres.dll and shell32.dll for system icons. Which is why some folders have the default icons and others have the new modified icons.

Still this doesn't explain why and how 7 is preventing the replacement of imageres.dll

What I've noticed about the appearance of the new icons:

Empty folders are still displayed as default.

All folders viewed in windows explorer display the new icons but the system is constantly "changing" to the new icons.

Desktop refuses to display any of the new icons
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Sep 2012   #3

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 Pro x64 / Win 8.1 Pro

I have literally changed hundreds of system files and I have never had a problem including my own custom imageres.dll where I customized every icon.
To properly change a system file you need to take ownership give yourself permission and rename the old file and then copy in the new one look at Post #6 of this thread will tell you how to do it Basic Networking Information

If you are using 64-bit you'll need to change it in both C:\Windows\System32 and C:\Windows\SysWOW64

I always used copies of any system file and put it on my desktop and then modify it and then use the above procedure to replace it.
You need to do this afterwards Icon Cache - Rebuild so the new icons will show up.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

05 Sep 2012   #4

7 Pro

I finally got the icons changed!

Thanx for the suggestions Bongo but the UAC wasn't the problem.

There were certain things that were causing a lot of confusion during the steps. Like I mentioned before the reboot method to replace system DLL's in Se7enFileReplacer and Restorator repeatedly failed for me.

I checked the forum and I saw a post by Brink with LibraryIconChanger here:
Libraries Icons - Change
This program verified that the new icons were updated in the DLL's. Resource hacker could've verified this too but I just used this simple application instead.

So I ended up using my handy USB Live Edition of Kubuntu and copy/replaced the DLL's with the modified ones in system32/sysWOW64 and voila! I exited Kubuntu and logged back into Windows; then after refreshing the icon cache the new icons appeared correctly.

Other users may not need to go as far as I did but just in case this method works too.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Sep 2012   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 Pro x64 / Win 8.1 Pro

It's good to hear you got it sorted out, using the live USB Kubuntu is probably the best way to really do it but some are not too familiar on how live Linux CDs work.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Sep 2012   #6

7 Pro

I've got another problem though check here:
icon cache not rebuilding all icons
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 imageres.dll/shell32.dll Modification For Global Icon Change

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