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Windows 7: How customize desktop icons - and make it ‘stick’?

02 Feb 2017   #1
Admiral Awesome

Windows 7 Pro 64-bit
How customize desktop icons - and make it ‘stick’?

I like to change the standard, boring, default folder icons to something more meaningful and neat-looking from an excellent icon pack.

Sometimes they stay changed for years, sometimes they revert to standard in fairly short order. How make my changes permanent?

I used to go the manual route: Properties (for the icon in question) /Customize/Change Icon which takes you to the standard dll's shell32.dll or else imageres.dll or you can browse for one.

I browse and pick a likely candidate from my icon pack library, and OK, OK my way back and the icon now is changed. For a while anyway, sometimes for keeps.

I was looking for a way to make the changes permanent and somebody suggested that I insert my custom icons into 'the usual suspects' shell32.dll and imageres.dll as Windows looks there by default.

This sounded reasonable, and I found this guide Icons - Change Using Resource Hacker and followed it to the letter. Yet icons altered this laborious way are not one iota more likely to stay, but often revert to the standard icon. The manual, 1 minute route is no less likely to succed in the long run than the rigmarole of using IcoFX/Resource Hacker.

No biggie perhaps, but I like to feel that I can do as I please with the PC I bought and which is thus my property and, to some degree, tweak trivial aspects of the OS (Windows 7) which also is a paid-for copy.

Now what do I do? Registry tweak?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Feb 2017   #2

Windows 7 32 bit

I don't know if anyone really knows what is wrong with the shell icon handling. I used RocketDock and 7Stacks. Often a program with a custom icon would revert to a blank page icon. The only way I could get these to "stick" was to tell 7Stacks to use a custom icon that I stored in a folder instead of getting it from the exe.

I realize that you are talking folder icons. But I think there is still a lot of Win9x shell code in Windows File Explorer. It would probably break too many things to fix it. Or the people who coded it in the first place are dead and/or retired. :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Feb 2017   #3
Admiral Awesome

Windows 7 Pro 64-bit

Thanks for the reply Miles. 'eclectician' is says...I like that!

Do you mean in your music tastes or that you're just generally an eclectic? (or did you simply misspell electrician?;) Me, I am from day one a musician and played professionally in a band that toured all over this little, long country from 1975 (I was 18 in them there days) 'till I left the band in 1982, and have always had an eclectic taste in music.

I have in my music collection Miles Davis (natch) Django Reinhardt, Leroy Anderson, even Mantovani, World Music, Bizét, Fun Lovin' Criminals, Curved Air, Chet Baker, Toots & the Maytals, Schubert, Jean Sibelius, John Williams (Star Wars etc), Ali Farka Touré & Ry Cooder, Isley Brothers, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Band, lot's of R 'n B, Muddy Waters, Fats Waller, Buddy Holly, Amadou & Mariam, Burl Ives, Della Reese and...well you get it.

But I digress. You say 'I don't know if anyone really knows what is wrong with the shell icon handling.' That is the truth, I suspect. And is true of much of the goings on in a complex system like a microcomputer OS. Windows is such a mess of a patchwork.

I go waay back, am 59 and started working as a PC suport person/technician in 1984 in the bad old (but Unix stable) DOS environment and have used almost every Windows release since Ver 2.0. I steered clear of ME and Vista and still stubbornly cling to 7. Have tried 10 (Brrr) and quickly reverted to 7.

But random things happen in it too, for no apparent reason. I wonder if anybody, anywhere, really fathoms the complexity of a PC OS.

'I realize that you are talking folder icons. But I think there is still a lot of Win9x shell code in Windows File Explorer.' Yeah, patchwork. '...the people who coded it in the first place are dead and/or retired.' Right, or were in fact already dead when they did it, only nobody had the heart to tell them so.

I thank you for your post, eclectician, and will mark the problem 'Solved' (there should be an 'Unsolvable' button) and stop beating this particular dead horse.

I think that, after grappling with this little issue for months, posting on different reputable forums (this one, how-to-geek, Tom's Hardware and umpteen others), being no wiser now than when I set out, that you summed it up beautifully when you said 'I don't know if anyone really knows what is wrong with the shell icon handling.'
My System SpecsSystem Spec

03 Feb 2017   #4

Windows 7 32 bit

No, Eclectician is not a typo. :)

Aldous Huxley thought rather than adhering to dogma we should cherry pick the best parts of all systems. In his novel Island he gives a hypothetical where the leader of a sheltered tropical island paradise needs medical treatment for an unusual ailment and is therefore motivated to seek treatment in a "civilized" country. The leader is impressed with the features of technology and invites the physician to visit the island. The physician is impressed with the people there. How they live. Their attitude towards life. What is important to them. The physician decides to stay and help them accrue the benefits of modern tech without spoiling the lifestyle of the people etc.. A best of both worlds scenario.

I won't spoil the novel by going into more detail. It should probably be on required reading lists along with Huxley's other works but it may strike too close to the bone for that to happen. :)

I haven't kept up with happenings in music as I should. Fortunately I have found a 24 hour jazz public radio station in Miami. When I lived in Palm Beach County there was a radio station WTMI if I remember the call letters correctly, that did classical during the day and jazz overnight 7 days a week. Unfortunately after 30 years of broadcasting classical/jazz they sold the station. I don't think it is in operation in any format now. But that kept me up on new releases in those days. I do get to attend free live jazz concerts here at Miami Dade College. They have been putting them on for 18 years I find out. If I knew about it when I lived in Palm Beach County I would have driven to Miami to attend. They are open to the general public and sort of an open secret. I know I never heard of them until I saw a placard in one of the college buildings itself.

I haven't had the opportunity to see many of the great jazz musicians perform live. A few I have seen are Dexter Gordon, Phil Woods, Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorius, Jackie McLean. Unfortunately I never got to see Miles perform live. I also saw various blues artists. James Cotton and Big Mama Thornton probably the most notable in that genre. And of course I like rock & roll. Hendrix, Zeppelin etc.. I liked the electric(not eclectic this time) guitar and sort of came to jazz sideways from fusion. Al Di Meola and Larry Coryell, then Weather Report. I had the Water Babies album years before I heard "So What" on KOB, the tune that really hooked me into exploring everything Miles did.

I never did learn to really play an instrument. I tried the patented technique of learning guitar by not practicing. But it did not work well for me. :) My fingers are rather short so it is likely I would not have excelled at any instrument where long fingers are advantageous at any rate. But I do love to watch someone who can transcend the present environment and enter that zone of free flowing creativity. It is an amazing thing to see.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Feb 2017   #5

Windows 7 Home Premium bit

Try (after getting things as you like them) r-click on desktop -> properties -> & save as -> (give it a name).
When I change things on my desktop, it reverts to losing my customizations.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

 How customize desktop icons - and make it ‘stick’?

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