How to Change the Icons for Windows Shortcuts and Folders
Many people are unaware that the icons that are used in the standard setup for Windows can be changed to suit a PC user's preference. Give all those folder and shortcut icons some character. In this article we will learn some of the ways to spruce up the computer's appearance.
How to change shortcut icons
The icons for shortcuts are easy to change in all versions of Windows. Right-click on a shortcut to open the context menu and choose "Properties". The properties sheet contains a button "Change Icon" as indicated in the figure below.
Click the "Change Icon" button and the dialog box shown in the next figure will open. The selection of icons that is embedded in the file listed in the line under "Look for icons in this file:" is shown. To choose icons from a different file, use the "Browse" button to open a file dialog and browse to the desired file.
How to change folder icons
You don't have to be stuck with those plain generic folder icons. Right-click on a folder and choose "Properties" in the context menu. In the Properties Sheet that opens, click the tab "Customize" to get the dialog shown in the figure below.
Click the "Change Icon" button and the follow the same procedure as indicated for Shortcut icons. Note the warning that changing the folder icon may affect the ability to preview a folder's contents.
If you open a folder from the side panel in a Library, the "Customize" tab may be missing. Open the desired folder from "Computer" instead.
Changing icons in Windows XP
A previous article at this link gives additional information about Windows icons and describes changing icons for Windows XP.
List of Windows system files that contain icons
Many DLL and EXE files have icons embedded in them. Some system files in the \Windows\System32\ folder contain contain substantial collections. Here is a list of DLL files in that folder with multiple icons embedded in them. This list is for Windows 7 but is very similar in Vista and Windows 8. Many of these DLL files are also in Windows XP.