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How to Change Desktop Icons to Custom Pictures

Do you have a set of folders on your computer desktop that you wish to customize? The steps on how to change desktop icons are quick and easy to follow. Customizing icons helps organize and identify your files and programs more easily. It’s also an artistic process. It adds personal significance to otherwise bland files and programs.

In this article, we’ll discuss the steps to help you customize your desktop icons to the photos that you love.

 

Customize Desktop Icons
Photo by static.vecteezy

 

Most desktops let you run several apps and programs simultaneously. Each has its own purpose and its own title window. This file naming scheme lets you spread several programs across the screen. And you have quite a lot of options when it comes to moving things around. When first installed, most operating software starts with a fresh and nearly empty desktop.

After some months of use, this naturally fills up with icons. These are the little buttons that load your files with a quick double-click. What they are essentially are the access points to the programs and folders on your device. Their main purpose is also to convey what the program does at a glance. You’ve probably noticed that all the folders on your desktop have the same appearance. If you need to look for a specific folder, there are no visual cues except for the title. Many people even leave their desktops with icons and folders in disarray. This might make file retrieval and identification that much harder. This is where custom icons come in.

 

What Are Desktop Icons For?

Colorful Desktop Icons
Photo by techsapiens

 

To help with file retrieval, you can change the folder icon into a customized picture. It’s almost as simple as changing your desktop wallpaper. You may even change the icons of existing .exe programs if you like. This is a way of customizing your icons so that you can easily recognize and navigate them. It’s also a means to mask your confidential files and make them more secure. You can switch up the folder and icon names and add nondescript icon images to complete it. Only you would know the contents. This might keep snoopers away from your confidential files.

There are many built-in icons on each computer, but there is quite a lot you can use. You can use any image on file that you have as an icon. You can even download any picture straight from the internet. There is also a wealth of icon libraries online. These provide artistic icons for this specific purpose. Artistic icons are available for free on sites such as IconArchive and DeviantArt. And while you’re customizing your icons, you might also want to do some sorting and organizing. This will make your desktop more visually pleasing and easier to navigate.

 

How to Change Desktop Icons With Built-In Icons?

 

Red Desktop Icons
Photo by static.vecteezy

 

Customizing your desktop icon appearance should be an easy and fun experience. Plus, it’s a great way to personalize your desktop devices. You can do this in two ways. Either you change the icon to another built-in icon or create your own. Here’s how:

 

How to Change Desktop Icons for Folders

Rainbow Folders Vector
Photo by i0.wp

 

Folders have a uniform appearance regardless of the operating system you’re using. This can be an issue when it comes to searching for files through a wide stack of folders. This also doesn’t do justice to files that are personally meaningful to you. Remember that when it comes to filing storage, it’s important to maintain an effective filing system and zip your files accordingly. You can also assign your photos or icons to replace the existing icon images. Here’s how:

 

For Windows:

  1. Select a photo from your desktop that you want to use as the icon photo. You can also download any photos from the internet.
  2. Access an online file converter. ICO is the standard format for all icon graphics, to which you will have to convert your image. You can choose from this list of 20 image converters. You can also use this direct link to the ICO conversion page of the image.online-convert.
  3. From your desktop or Documents folder, select any folder or sub-folder whose icon you want to change.
  4. Right-click on the folder/program you want to customize. Click on the drop-down menu and find Properties.
  5. Click on the Shortcuts tab. Select Change Icon from the action tray on the same tab.
  6. Select an ICO image to replace the icon image. You may select an icon from the available templates or a photo from the file. If you want to include a custom icon, click on Browse from the system tray.
  7. Select the ICO file and click on Open. Click on OK.

 

For Mac:

  1. Select an image from your desktop or straight from the internet. You can check out stock photography sites for icons. You can try downloading from Getty Images or Shutterstock for this purpose. It’s also possible to take a screenshot of the portion of an image that you want to use.
  2. Double-click on the picture that you want to use. Open it in your Mac’s built-in Preview application.
  3. Click on Edit followed by Select All under the Preview menu bar. You can also do this using the Command+A keyboard shortcut.
  4. Select Edit followed by Copy in the Preview’s menu bar. You can also do this using the Command+C keyboard shortcut.
  5. Find the folder whose icon you want to change. Right-click on the folder and find Get Info from the menu. Click on the icon from the top-left of the Info panel to select it.
  6. Pick the icon you want to replace it with. Drag the selected icon to the open Get Info window and drop it on the icon thumbnail on the top left corner. The new icon will now take the place of the old one.

 

How to Change Desktop Icons for Program or Application Shortcuts

Computer Apps Sample
Photo by i.stack.imgur

 

Most apps have unique appearances as a matter of trademark. The desktop shortcuts to these same programs also carry the same icons. However, this is not a guarantee that you will be able to identify them off the bat by appearance alone. You can customize app shortcuts to have pictures or icons that you recognize. Here’s how:

 

For Windows:

  1. From your desktop, select any program or folder shortcut that you want to change. Shortcuts usually appear with a blue, upward-facing arrow in the bottom-left corner of the icon.
  2. Right-click on the shortcut. From the drop-down menu, find Properties.
  3. Click on the Shortcuts tab. Select Change Icon from the action tray on the same tab.
  4. Make sure that the image has been converted to the ICO format.
  5. Select an ICO image to replace the icon image. You may select an icon from the available templates or a photo from the file. If you want to include a custom icon, click on Browse from the system tray.
  6. Select the ICO file and click on Open and then OK.

 

For Mac:

  1. After selecting an image that you want to use, double-click on it. Open it in your Mac’s built-in Preview application.
  2. Click on Edit followed by Select All under the Preview menu bar. You can also do this using the Command+A keyboard shortcut.
  3. Select Edit followed by Copy in the Preview’s menu bar. You can also do this using the Command+C keyboard shortcut.
  4. Find the shortcut icon that you want to change. Right-click on the shortcut icon and select Get Info from the context menu. Click on the icon from the top-left of the Info panel to select it.
  5. Select the icon you want to use as a replacement. Drag the selected icon to the open Get Info window and drop it on the icon thumbnail on the top left corner. Once done, your new icon will be in place.

 

How to Change Desktop Icons for Shortcuts to a Web Page

Web Page Shortcut
Photo by filestore

 

Web page shortcuts are great for keeping track of the web pages that you frequently visit. And they usually appear as having the same logo as the web browser that you used. However, having too many web page shortcuts on your desktop can make it look cluttered. It also makes it hard to navigate and search for files. To help you with this, you can also customize these web page icons to your preferred picture or icon. Here’s how:

 

For Windows:

  1. Right-click on the program/application icon from your desktop. Select Properties from the drop-down menu.
  2. Click on Change Icon from the Shortcut tab, which immediately appears on the panel.
  3. Pick an ICO image to replace the icon image. You may select an icon from the available templates or a photo from the file. If you want to include a custom icon, click on Browse from the system tray.
  4. Select the ICO file and click Open. Click OK.

 

For Mac:

  1. Make sure that the webpage shortcut is on the desktop bar first.
  2. Find an image that you want to use to replace the shortcut icon. Open it on Preview and copy the image.
  3. Right-click on the shortcut icon and select Get Info from the context menu. Click on the icon picture beside the icon label at the top-left corner of the tab.
  4. Select the icon you want to use as a replacement. Drag the selected icon to the open Get Info window and drop it on the icon thumbnail in the top-left corner. The new icon will now take the place of the old one.

 

How to Change Desktop Icons for Apps on Taskbar

Sample Taskbar
Photo by cdn.guidingtech

 

The program taskbar contains most of the programs that you use most often. It’s located at the bottom of the Windows desktop. Or in the case of Mac computers, it’s located on the upper side of the desktop. You can also personalize taskbar icons to your preferred picture or icon. Here’s how:

 

For Windows:

  1. Right-click on the program/application icon from your taskbar. Among the options that appear, right-click on the same icon. You should find the same icon directly on top of the Remove from Taskbar function.
  2. Select Properties from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click on Change Icon from the Shortcut tab, which immediately appears on the panel.
  4. Choose an ICO image to replace the icon image. You may select an icon from the available templates or a photo from a file. If you want to include a custom icon, click on Browse from the system tray.
  5. Select the ICO file and click on Open. Click on OK.

 

For Mac:

  1. Open any web browser and select an image that you want to use. Drag the image straight from the browser to your Desktop to copy it. You can also use an existing picture from your files. Just make sure that it has been converted to ICO format.
  2. Launch Finder. Go to Applications.
  3. Select any program that you want to change (i.e. Minecraft). Right-click on the program and select Get Info. Click on the icon picture beside the icon label at the top-left corner of the tab.
  4. Select the icon you want to use as a replacement. Drag the selected icon to the open Get Info window and drop it on the icon thumbnail in the top-left corner. The new icon will now take the place of the old one.

 

How to Change Icons for Any Drive

Sample Drive Folders
Photo by i.ytimg

 

A drive is a location that is capable of storing information and programs. Computer drives are essential for storing files and programs used by your computer. Drives may be hard-built into your computer. Other drives are also detachable pieces of hardware such as a USB stick. You can also assign your own photos or icons to replace the Drive icons. Here’s how:

 

For Windows:

  1. Look for a Drive icon that you want to customize. Take note of the drive icon letter. This may be C, D, E, etc.
  2. Open any web browser and type in “usb.ico.” The search results should generate icon images. Choose an image and save the picture to any folder on your computer.
  3. Click on Start. Type “regedit” on the search panel. Press Enter to open the Registry Editor and click on Run as Administrator.
  4. Click on the Software Folder on the left-hand panel of the tab to expand it. Select Classes and then expand the folder. Right-click on Applications under Classes. Select New and then Key.
  5. Type in “explorer.exe.” Right-click on this tab and create another key. Label the new key as “Drives.”
  6. Right-click on Drives and create another key. Label the new key after the letter of the drive whose icon you want to change. An example would be D if you wanted to change the USB Drive D icon.
  7. Right-click on the new key to create another key and label it DefaultIcon.
  8. Go back to your folders and locate the icon you want to use. Copy the path from the Windows address bar above.
  9. Under the Edit String window, copy and paste the path of the icon (surrounded by quotes) into the Value data box. Click on OK when done. There’s no need to restart your PC as the changes should take effect immediately. Alternatively, you can also use a Drive Icon Changer software. This will shorten the process of customizing the drive icons.

 

For Mac:

  1. Open any web browser and select an image that you want to use. Drag the image straight from the browser to your Desktop to copy it.
  2. Double-click on the icon to open it under Preview.
  3. Click on the Edit option from your desktop taskbar at the top of the screen.
  4. Click on Copy from the drop-down menu. This copies the image into the Virtual Clipboard. At this point, you can close the Preview of the image.
  5. Right-click on the Drive that you want to customize. Select Get Info. Click on the icon picture beside the icon label at the top left corner of the tab.
  6. Select the icon you want to use as a replacement. Drag the selected icon to the open Get Info window and drop it on the icon thumbnail in the top-left corner. The new icon will now take the place of the old one.

 

How to Change Desktop Icons for Specific File Types

Types of Files on Desktop
Photo by newpagedigital.files

 

Windows and Mac computers have built-in options for changing icons. This makes the process of customizing programs and folders much easier. However, this is not the case for changing the icon of a specific file type. Say you want to change the icon of all your Word documents into a picture. Or your PowerPoint presentations into a specific logo.

If you are using Windows, we will need the help of a software called File Types Manager. You will need to download and install this program before you can customize your icons. You can also choose from other programs like it. In any case, here’s how you can change the desktop icons for specific file types:

 

For Windows:

  1. Open the File Types Manager after completing the installation process. Once opened, it will list all the known file types on your system. Scroll down to find the file type that you want to customize. You may also use the Find option to search for it.
  2. Right-click on the file type and select the Edit Selected File Type option. The window should open containing a Default Icon toolbar in the middle.
  3. Copy the default icon path and save it to a notepad or word document in the meantime.
  4. Click on the Browse button appearing next to the Default Icon field. All the available icons will appear.
  5. Pick an ICO image to replace the icon image. You may select an icon from the available templates or a photo from the file. If you want to include a custom icon, click on Browse from the system tray.
  6. Pick the ICO file and click on Open. Click on OK.

 

For Mac:

  1. On your Mac, copy the picture you want to use to the Clipboard.
  2. One way to do this is to open the picture in Preview mode. Choose Edit followed by Select All. Click on Edit followed by Copy.
  3. Right-click on the file that you want to customize. Select Get Info. Click on the icon picture beside the icon label at the top-left corner of the tab.
  4. Select the icon you want to use as a replacement. Drag the selected icon to the open Get Info window and drop it on the icon thumbnail in the top-left corner. The new icon will now take the place of the old one.

 

Applications to Help You Create Custom Desktop Icons

 

Apps for Creating Customized Icons
Photo by Pixabay

 

The process of creating your icons seems complicated at first, but it’s easier than you think. Luckily, there are more than a handful of applications that can help you with this. You can create your designs right in the apps. You also have the option to use existing photos and artwork. All you need is to upload the photo or design to the application and convert it to ICO format. You can also customize existing designs using any icon app. In any case, here are some great examples of file converters for the ICO format:

 

Appicon.co

App Icon
Photo by cloudfront

 

Appicon.co is a multi-platform online converter for icons. This software requires you to have an image, either taken from the internet or your design. If you have photos on cloud storage, you can also retrieve them. You can read this piece on how to download photos from iCloud. All you need to do is to drag the file to the website and then select the output size and file format. You can also rename the file to make it easier to look for later.

The software is readily available online, no sign-in required. There’s also a desktop version that works offline. For the desktop version, you don’t need an internet connection. You can do finishing touches on your existing designs anywhere and anytime. Appicon.co is compatible with IOS, Android, macOS, and Windows devices.

 

Vectr

Vectr
Photo by Vectr

 

Vectr is a simple yet highly efficient vector graphics platform. Reliable cross-platform software enables users to generate icon designs right through the software. The program has all the basic tools and features that you need to create simple designs. These include shapes, pencil, and text tool. There are also customization options. Examples include opacity, border, type, and color. Granted, this software is not as powerful or effective as Adobe Illustrator. Nonetheless, it’s sufficient for creating simple vector graphics with minimum fuss. The software is also very user-friendly and easy to navigate. There’s also an auto-save feature for all projects online.

Vectr is a premium software. It’s compatible with Windows, Linux, macOS, and Chrome OS.

 

Iconsflow

IconsFlow
Photo by iconsflow

 

Iconsflow is another highly effective vector graphics platform. With the program, you can create your own icon set or edit styling on the existing icon design. You can change the gradient and size or even add effects to existing designs. You can also create your simple designs using the tools provided. If these two options don’t appeal to you, there are also more than 200,000 icons available for you to choose from. Afterward, you can save the icons you created to any icon format of your choice. Your icons do not lose their quality after the editing or resizing process.

IconsFlow is a premium software. It’s compatible with macOS and Windows devices.

 

ICO Convert

ICO Convert
Photo by socialapples

 

ICO Convert is an online resource for converting images to icons. The software is readily available online. This software requires you to have an image, either taken from the internet or your design. All you need to do is to drag the file to the website and then select the output size and file format. You can also add borders, capture a specific part of the image, or apply basic styles. You can also compress the image and customize the output size.

This software might appear rudimentary. Nonetheless, it does a great job for the final editing and conversion of your icons. ICO convert is completely free and works with macOS and Windows devices.

 

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator Sample
Photo by i.ytimg

 

Adobe Illustrator is an award-winning vector graphics software. This software is the go-to of professional artists and icon designers. To give you an idea, it’s behind the majority of the icons you see on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. The software is multi-purpose. This means you can create web and mobile graphics, icons, and so much more. It has all the drawing and coloring tools you need to create icons that stand out. You will also never run out of graphics, styles, and fonts to choose from. Your work is also auto-saved onto a cloud.

Adobe Illustrator is a premium software. It’s compatible with macOS and Windows devices. There’s also a mobile app version but this has less power than the desktop software.

 

Final Thoughts on Customizing Desktop Icons

Blue Icons on Computer
Photo by res.cloudinary

 

The ability to create and assign your icons to your files is valuable freedom to have. It makes it easier to identify and locate your files. And it also gives you the utmost ability to customize and control your computer. And given the wide variety of design software available, there’s no reason not to. Granted, computer icons might just be a small matter, but having an organized desktop with amazing personalized graphics does make an impression. If your computer is the reflection of your best self, then might as well make it as aesthetically pleasing and organized as possible.

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