Create and customize Windows 10 icons yourself

Tired of the standard Windows icons? Then replace it with homemade. You can do this for programs, folders and files. At least as long as you have the right tools. How to make Windows 10 icons yourself.

Before we start, it is useful to consider how icons work. In Windows, icons use the ico file format. In practice, of course, multiple pictograms are often needed, in different sizes. These are usually saved as a set in a DLL. A good example is the imageres.dll file. You will find it in the root of the hard disk, in the subfolder System32.

We first list files that contain interesting icons. You can use this as a basis for your own: you can modify an existing icon and create a new one with it. You can also create your own icon.

Locations Windows icons

System32 accessibilitycpl.dll (for example C: Windows System32 accessibilitycpl.dll)
System32 compstui.dll
System32 comres.dll
System32 ddores.dll
System32 dmdskres.dll
System32 dsuiext.dll
System32 ieframe.dll
System32 imageres.dll
System32 mmcndmgr.dll
System32 mmres.dll
System32 moricons.dll
System32 mstsc.exe
System32 mstscax.dll
System32 netcenter.dll
System32 netshell.dll
System32 networkexplorer.dll
System32 pifmgr.dll
System32 pnidui.dll
System32 sensorscpl.dll
System32 setupapi.ll
System32 shell32
System32 wiashext.dll
System32 wmploc.dll
System32 wpdshext.dll

View icons

With external software you can open the DLLs and view the icons. You can also extract the icons from the file. Then you can edit them and create your own icon set. We use the free program for this IconViewer. This program adds an extra tab to the Windows Explorer properties window, making it easy to use.

After the installation of IconViewer, open the Explorer. Browse to the dll file whose icons you want to see. Right click on it and choose Characteristics. Now open the tab Icons. Note: this tab only appears if the file contains icons. An overview of icons appears. Now you can extract and save the individual icons from the file.

Select the icon and choose in the box Device images the desired size and resolution, for example: 64×64, 32-bit. In the box Preview (to the right of the format box) you can see a preview of the icon. Press the button Save to save the icon. Specify a destination folder and name the icon.

By default, the file is saved as an ico file, but this is not necessary. In the box Save as type you can also choose to save the image as a bitmap or as a png image. Choose that option if you want to edit the icon, for example to make it your own variant.

Do you want to further customize Windows 10? You can read many more tips in the Windows 10 management course of our Tech Academy, including practice book.

Edit icons

Do you want to create your own icon based on an existing icon? We make use of this IcoFX. Unfortunately this program is not free, but you can try it for free for 30 days. After installation you choose in the program File, Open and point to the icon file. Choose the icon you want to adjust and click Extract.

The icon is displayed in the main window. Via the toolbar Tools you can adjust the icon at pixel level, for example by changing the colors or adding new elements. The editor is similar to Microsoft Paint. Use the toolbar Colors to choose the colors you want. Finally, save the file as an ico file. Choose File, Save As and choose at Save as type in front of Windows Icon (* .ico).

Use your own picture as an icon

It is also possible to use an existing image as an icon. Think of a png, jpg or bmp image. Via the website you can convert an existing image and, if necessary, update it and make it suitable as an icon.

click on Choose File and point to the file you want to make an icon of. click on Upload. In the second step you indicate which part of the image should be included in the icon. Cropping is useful when the original image is larger than what you want to show in the icon.

In the third step you can optionally add a frame, but fortunately this step is not necessary. Indicate the file format to which the image should be converted. Choose this ICO for Windows 7, Windows 8, Vista and XP. Contrary to what the website suggests, the ico file is also suitable for Windows 10.

Finally, click Convert ICO. Once the conversion is complete, the link will appear Download your icon (s) and you can download the icon.

Swap icons

Now that you have your own collection of icons, you can swap the existing ones. An easy way to add your own icon to a folder, file or program is to create a shortcut. You can then give this shortcut its own icon.

Right-click on the desktop and choose New, Shortcut. After creating the shortcut, right click on it and chooseCharacteristics. Click on the tab Shortcut and click Different icon. click on Leaves and point to the icon.

After all, you can also change the default desktop icons. Open the settings window (Windows key + I) and choose Personal settings, Themes. Click on the right side of the window Desktop icon settings. In the newly opened window, select the icon you want to change and click Different icon. Point to the new icon and click OK. Repeat for all the icons you want to adjust.


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