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Windows 7: Shortcut - Change Icon

Shortcut - Change Icon

How to Change the Icon of a Shortcut in Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8
Published by Brink
07 Jan 2010
Published by

How to Change the Icon of a Shortcut in Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8

information   Information
This will show you how to change the icon of any file, folder, or drive shortcut to have a custom icon of your choice instead.
Tip   Tip
To change a shortcut icon that is pinned to the taskbar, you will need to first unpin the shortcut from the taskbar, change the shortcut's icon using the instructions below, then pin the shortcut back to the taskbar.

EXAMPLE: Before and After Shortcut Icon Change
Shortcut - Change Icon-shortcut_before.jpgShortcut - Change Icon-shortcut_after.jpg
Here's How:
1. Right click or press and hold on the shortcut of a file, folder, or drive, and click/tap on Properties. (see screenshots below)
Shortcut - Change Icon-file.jpgShortcut - Change Icon-folder.jpg

Shortcut - Change Icon-drive.jpg

2. Click/tap on the Shortcut tab, click/tap on the Change Icon button, and do step 3, 4, or 5 below for what you would like to do. (see screenshots below)
Shortcut - Change Icon-file_properties.jpgShortcut - Change Icon-folder_properties.jpg

Shortcut - Change Icon-drive_properties.jpg

3. To Just Select from another Available Icon
A) Select an available icon, click/tap on OK, and go to step 6 below. (see screenshot below)
Shortcut - Change Icon-change_icon.jpg
4. To Select Another Windows Icon
A) Click/tap on the Browse button. (see screenshot below step 3A)

B) Navigate to and select a .dll or .exe system file in Windows that contains a icon library to select from, then click/tap on the Open button. (see screenshot below)

Note   Note
Two most common locations of default Windows icons are located at:
  • C:\Windows\System32\imageres.dll
  • C:\Windows\System32\shell32.dll
Shortcut - Change Icon-browse.jpg
C) Select an available icon, click/tap on OK, and go to step 6 below. (see screenshot below step 3A)
5. To Select a Custom Icon of Your Own
A) Click/tap on the Browse button. (see screenshot below step 3A)

B) Navigate to and select a 256x256 pixel .ico file that you want to use for the shortcut's icon, then click on the Open button. (see screenshot below 4B)

C) Select the icon, click/tap on OK, and go to step 6 below. (see screenshot below step 3A)
6. Click/tap on OK. (see screenshots below step 2)
That's it,

06 Nov 2010   #1

Windows 7 x64 bit Home Premium

And if the Change Icon button is grayed out (like mine) then what?????

My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Nov 2010   #2

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

Hello Zoandar,

What is it a shortcut of?

As a test, create a new shortcut directly from the program's exe file to see if you may be able to change this shortcut's icon.

The default MS Office shortcuts are like this, and you will have to create a new shortcut like above to be able to.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Nov 2010   #3

Windows 7 x64 bit Home Premium

After I posted the above I got an idea and tried doing as you said, but also moved to the Public folder under my user account to create the shortcut from the exe file of the program. That allowed me to change the icon, and then move the changed icon back to the desktop and eventually pin it to the task bar. I'll try creating another one on the desktop by going directly to the executable and see if that also works.

One of the frustrations I get out of all of Win7's "permissions" crap is that such work-arounds ALLOW me to actually end up with the thing they were "preventing". So why not just LET me do it in the first place!?

It's silly.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

07 Nov 2010   #4

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

That's great news Zoandar.

This would most likely be from how the program created the original shortcut that wouldn't allow you to change the icon instead. This way their progam's logo/icon will always be displayed for it instead. By using Windows method to create a new shortcut is what allowed you to be able to change it though.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Nov 2010   #5

Windows 7 x64 bit Home Premium

It was never this big an issue with WinXP, but I guess it's just one of the new things I had to learn with Win7. The one saving grace about Windows is that there has always been multiple ways to reach the same goal.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Nov 2010   #6

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

You're most welcome Zoandar.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Feb 2014   #7

Windows 7 Professional 64 bit

This didn't work for me, since there is no "Shortcut" tab or any other button under "Properties" that will allow me to change the icons. I had to restore my computer from a backup, but because of the PITA permissions in Win 7, I had to select the entire C drive and take over ownership of every file (otherwise I would have to go through and do them one by one- a task I'd be working on until I died) and then also reset permissions so that I would have access to them.

Once that was done, about half of my icons are messed up. All Office programs, Adobe reader, etc etc... I seem to have absolutely no option to change them back. Now what?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Feb 2014   #8

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

Hello VTX,

Yep, it's not recommended to take ownership of the entire C: drive for just that very reason. It will almost always cause issues.

If you do not have a "Shortcut" tab, then are you sure that the file is actually a shortcut (.lnk) file with an arrow overlay on the bottom left of the icon?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Feb 2014   #9

Windows 7 Professional 64 bit

Unfortunately, because of the way Win7 treats permissions, it was the only way to regain access to all my files. The icons aren't missing from shortcuts, they are missing from the actual files. Last night I uninstalled Adobe Reader and reinstalled it and all of those files had their icons restored. I guess I'll have to do the same for Office and the other programs with missing icons. I don't feel like formatting the drive and starting all over. I'd be right back here again anyway because of Windows Permissions.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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