The 10 Best Ways to Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows

Method 1

Changing System Desktop Icons


  1. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 1

    1

    Open Start

    Image titled Windowsstart.png

    .

    Click the Windows logo in the bottom-left corner of the screen, or press the

    ⊞ Win

    key.


  2. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 2

    2

    Click Settings

    Image titled Windowssettings.png

    .

    It’s in the lower-left side of the Start window.


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    3

    Click Personalization.

    This is the monitor-shaped icon on the Windows Settings page.

    • You can also access this page by right-clicking a blank space on the desktop and then clicking Personalization in the drop-down menu.

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    4

    Click Themes. It’s a tab on the left side of the Personalization window.


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    5

    Click Desktop icon settings.

    This link is in the upper-right side of the Themes page. Clicking it opens the Desktop Icon Settings window.

    • If you haven’t edited your theme at all, this link will be in the middle of the page beneath the “Related Settings” heading.
    • You can also click Get more themes in the Store below the “Apply a theme” heading to browse desktop themes. Some themes will change your desktop icons’ appearances.

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    6

    Click an icon you want to change.

    This will select the icon.

    • For example, you might click This PC or Recycle Bin.
    • You can also check the box next to a desktop icon’s name at the top of the window to make it appear on your desktop, or uncheck the box to remove it from the desktop.
    • Check the “Allow themes to change desktop icons” box on this window to enable theme-related icon changes.

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    Click Change Icon. It’s near the bottom of the window.


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    8

    Select an icon.

    You can select two different types of icons:

    • System icon – Click an icon in the window.
    • Custom icon – Click Browse, then click the folder that your custom icons are in on the left side of the window. Select the icon you want to use, then click Open.

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    Click OK. This will assign your selected icon to the desktop program.


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    10

    Click Apply, then click OK. Doing so confirms your decision and changes the desktop program’s icon to your selected icon.

Method 2

Changing Shortcut and Folder Icons


  1. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 11

    1

    Open Start

    Image titled Windowsstart.png

    .

    Click the Windows logo in the bottom-left corner of the screen, or press

    ⊞ Win

    .


  2. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 12

    2

    Click the File Explorer

    Image titled Windowsstartexplorer.png

    .

    You’ll find this icon on the far-left side of the Start window.


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    3

    Click Desktop. It’s a folder in the left-hand column of options in the File Explorer window.


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    4

    Click a shortcut or folder icon.

    Shortcut icons have a white box with an arrow in their lower-left corners.

    • You cannot change the icons of specific files (e.g., Notepad files or .exe files) using this method.

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    5

    Click the Home tab. It’s in the upper-left corner of the File Explorer window. Doing so will open a toolbar at the top of the window.


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    6

    Click Properties.

    This is a white box with a red checkmark in the “Open” section of the toolbar.

    • You can also right-click on the icon on your desktop and then click Properties to get to this menu.

  7. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 17

    7

    Open the icon’s “Change Icon” window.

    This process will vary depending on the type of icon you’re editing:

    • Shortcut – Click the Shortcut tab at the top of the Properties window, then click Change Icon near the bottom of the window.
    • Folder – Click the Customize tab at the top of the Properties window, then click Change Icon near the bottom of the window.

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    8

    Select an icon.

    You can select two different types of icons:

    • System icon – Click an icon in the window.
    • Custom icon – Click Browse, then click the folder that your custom icons are in on the left side of the window. Select the icon you want to use, then click Open.

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    9

    Click OK. This will assign your selected icon.


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    10

    Click Apply, then click OK. Doing so confirms your decision and changes the original icon to your selected icon.

Method 3

Downloading Icons


  1. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 21

    1

    Open a web browser. Microsoft Edge is the official Windows 10 browser, though you can use Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer as well.


  2. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 22

    2

    Search for Windows icons.

    Type

    download windows desktop icons

    into your browser’s address bar and pressing

    ↵ Enter

    .

    • You can narrow your search by entering the program’s name (e.g., windows my computer icon) or by using the icon file type (e.g., ICO.

  3. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 23

    3

    Download the icons you want.

    You can do this by opening a site that has your icons and clicking the

    Download

    button. Doing so will save the icons to your computer.

    • If you download multiple icons at once, you may have to extract the icons to a regular folder before continuing.

  4. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 24

    4

    Open File Explorer

    Image titled WindowsFileExplorer.png

    .

    You can do this by opening Start

    Image titled Windowsstart.png

    and clicking

    Image titled Windowsstartexplorer.png

    .


  5. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 25

    5

    Click Desktop. This folder is on the left side of File Explorer.


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    6

    Click your icons folder.

    Doing so selects it.

    • If you just downloaded one icon, select the icon instead.

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    7

    Click Home. This tab is in the upper-left corner of the File Explorer window.


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    8

    Click Move to. It’s in the “Organize” section of the toolbar at the top of the File Explorer window.


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    9

    Click Pictures.

    This folder is near the middle of the pop-up window.

    • You can select any folder on your computer if you don’t want to place your icons in Pictures.

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    10

    Click Move. This will send your icons to a folder where you won’t move or delete them.


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    11

    Change a program’s icon using your downloaded icon.

    You’ll use the

    Browse

    method and then select an icon from within the

    Pictures

    folder to do this.

Method 4

Creating Icons


  1. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 32

    1

    Open Start

    Image titled Windowsstart.png

    .

    Click the Windows logo in the bottom-left corner of the screen, or press

    ⊞ Win

    .


  2. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 33

    2

    Type paint into Start, then press ↵ Enter. Make sure you don’t press ↵ Enter until the Paint icon, which resembles a paint palette, appears at the top of the Start window.


  3. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 34

    3

    Click File. It’s a blue button in the upper-left corner of the Paint window.


  4. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 35

    4

    Click Open.

    This option is in the

    File

    menu. Doing so opens a window where you can open a file location.

    • If you’d rather create your own icon by drawing in Paint, skip this step and instead create your drawing.

  5. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 36

    5

    Select a picture.

    You may have to click a location on the left side of the Open window (e.g.,

    Pictures

    ) to find the picture you want to open.

    • Skip this step if you’re drawing your own icon.

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    6

    Click Open.

    This will open your image in the Paint window.

    • Skip this step if you’re drawing your own icon.

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    7

    Click File again. It’s in the top-left corner of Paint.


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    8

    Select Save as. This option is near the top of the File menu.


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    9

    Click BMP picture. It’s an option to the right of the Save as button. Doing so opens a Save As window where you can name your file.


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    10

    Type in your file’s name followed by .ico.

    This will ensure that your file is saved as an icon file.

    • For example, you might name your file “shortcut.ico”.

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    11

    Click a folder to save your file in.

    Do so in the left-hand pane of the Save As window.

    • The Pictures folder is a safe place to save your shortcut file.

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    12

    Click Save. It’s at the bottom of the window. Doing so will save your icon in your selected folder.


  13. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 44

    13

    Change a program’s icon using your created icon.

    You’ll use the

    Browse

    method and select your custom icon from the folder where you saved it.

Method 5

Adding Shortcuts to the Desktop


  1. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 45

    1

    Open Start

    Image titled Windowsstart.png

    .

    Click the Windows logo in the bottom-left corner of the screen, or press

    ⊞ Win

    on your keyboard.


  2. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 46

    2

    Click File Explorer

    Image titled Windowsstartexplorer.png

    .

    It’s in the lower-left side of the Start window.


  3. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 47

    3

    Click the Desktop folder. It’s on the left side of the File Explorer window.


  4. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 48

    4

    Click the Home tab. You’ll find this tab in the upper-left side of the File Explorer window.


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    5

    Click New item. It’s in the “New” section of the tool bar at the top of the window.


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    6

    Click Shortcut. This option is in the New item drop-down menu. A window with options for your new shortcut will appear.


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    7

    Click Browse. It’s in the middle of the page. Doing so opens a pop-up window.


  8. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 52

    8

    Scroll down and click the program’s or file’s folder.

    For example, if the program or file is in the Documents folder, you’d click

    My Documents

    .

    • You may have to click through several different folders to find the program or file for which you want to create a shortcut.

  9. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 53

    9

    Click OK.

    Doing so sets the desktop shortcut’s target as your selected item.

    • If you rename the desktop icon or move it to a new folder, your shortcut will no longer work.

  10. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 54

    10

    Click Next, then enter a name. The default name for the shortcut is the same name as the program itself.


  11. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 55

    11

    Click Finish. It’s in the bottom-right corner of the window. This will create your shortcut in the folder you selected.

Method 6

Removing Arrows from Shortcut Icons


  1. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 56

    1

    Open Start

    Image titled Windowsstart.png

    .

    Click the Windows logo in the bottom-left corner of the screen, or press

    ⊞ Win

    .


  2. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 57

    2

    Type regedit into the Start window. This will bring up the “regedit” program at the top of the window.


  3. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 58

    3

    Click regedit. It’s a blue group of blocks at the top of the window.


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    4

    Click Yes when prompted. This will open the Registry Editor.


  5. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 60

    5

    Navigate to the Explorer folder.

    To do so:

    • Expand HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE by clicking V left of it. This folder is in the top-left side of the Registry Editor window.
    • Expand SOFTWARE.
    • Expand Microsoft.
    • Expand Windows.
    • Expand CurrentVersion.
    • Click Explorer.

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    6

    Click Edit. It’s in the top-left corner of the Registry Editor window.


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    7

    Select New, then click Key. Doing so creates a new “key”, which resembles a folder, in the column of folders below the Explorer folder.


  8. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 63

    8

    Type Shell Icons into the key’s name, then press ↵ Enter.

    Doing so renames the key.

    • Make sure you type this name exactly as it appears here.

  9. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 64

    9

    Click the Edit tab. It’s in the upper-left corner of the window.


  10. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 65

    10

    Select New, then click String Value. This creates a new code item in the Shell Icons key.


  11. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 66

    11

    Type in 29, then press ↵ Enter. Doing so renames your string value.


  12. Image titled Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows Step 67

    12

    Double-click the 29 string value. This opens the Edit String window.


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    13

    Type %windir%System32shell32.dll,-50 into the Value data field. This field is at the bottom of the “Edit String” window.


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    14

    Click OK. Doing so saves your edit to the registry.


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    15

    Restart your computer. Once your computer reboots, you should no longer see the icon arrow in the bottom-left corner of your desktop icons.

Community Q&A

Add New Question

  • Question

    I lost the icon for my email. How do I get it back on my desktop?

    wikiHow Contributor

    Community Answer

    Click on your Windows key and type your email program. Then, just drag it onto your desktop.

  • Question

    How do I change the background of icon names on my desktop in XP?

    wikiHow Contributor

    Community Answer

    Highlight then right-click, and a list of things should pop up. Click on “change.”

  • Question

    How do I put icons on my desktop from a program?

    wikiHow Contributor

    Community Answer

    If on windows, search using the windows key for the program and then drag and drop it onto your desktop.

  • Question

    How can I keep new icons from jumping to the top corner of the desktop when I create them?

    wikiHow Contributor

    Community Answer

    This is not possible. It will always move there. You can move the icon to where you want it to be.

  • Question

    How do I change the size of the Icons on my screen. Mine seemed to enlarge without doing anything.

    wikiHow Contributor

    Community Answer

    Right click on an empty space on your desk top, click view, and then select the icon size you would like. It usually gives you an option of small, medium or large icons.

  • Question

    How do I put icons that are on multiple pages on one page on my iPhone 5 home screen?

    wikiHow Contributor

    Community Answer

    Hold your finger on an icon until all the icons start shaking. Then, you can drag the icons to any page you want.

Unanswered Questions

  • How do I change the picture on my desktop icon?

  • What do I do if my desktop has icons that don’t show up on the desktop folder?

  • How can I make my icons and texts larger on desktop?

  • How can I convert the icon reader into a PDF?

  • How do I get the icon for my online banking?

Show more unanswered questions

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Tips

  • You shouldn’t have to pay for icons if you choose to download them.
  • Some themes will change your desktop icons. To enable this feature, open the Desktop Icon Settings window from within Personalization, then check the “Allow themes to change desktop icons” box and click OK.
  • You can find themes for Windows 10 in the Store, which is an app that comes preinstalled on Windows 10.

Warnings

  • If you move or delete an icon file, the program you were using the file with with stop displaying the icon.

Article SummaryX

1. Click the Start menu and select Settings.
2. Click Personalization.
3. Click Themes.
4. Click Desktop icon settings.
5. Select an icon to change.
6. Click Change Icon.
7. Select a new icon and click OK.
8. Click OK.

Did this summary help you?

Article Info

Categories: Windows

In other languages:

Italiano: Cambiare o Creare Icone del Desktop su Windows, Español: cambiar o crear íconos para el escritorio de Windows, Deutsch: Desktopsymbole für Windows erstellen oder ändern, Português: Mudar ou Criar Ícones para a Área de Trabalho no Windows, Русский: изменить или создать иконки в Windows, 中文: 在Windows上修改或创建桌面图标, Français: changer ou créer des icônes du Bureau Windows, Nederlands: Bureaubladpictogrammen in Windows beheren, Bahasa Indonesia: Mengubah atau Membuat Ikon Desktop pada Windows, ไทย: เปลี่ยนหรือสร้างไอคอนที่หน้า Desktop ของ Windows, العربية: تغيير أو إنشاء أيقونات سطح المكتب في نظام ويندوز, Tiếng Việt: Thay đổi hoặc tạo biểu tượng màn hình trên Windows, हिन्दी: विंडोज (Windows) के लिए डेस्कटॉप आइकॉन बदलें और तैयार करें (Change or Create Desktop Icons for Windows), Türkçe: Windows için Masaüstü Simgeleri Nasıl Değiştirilir veya Oluşturulur

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