How to Easily Change File and Folder Icons on Windows 11

Swapping Icons for Folders and Shortcuts

Learning how to switch icons on Windows 11 is simple and can add a personal flair to your computer setup. Here’s a quick guide to customizing your folders and shortcuts effortlessly:

  1. To tweak folders, right-click on the desired folder and pick “Properties.” Head to the “Customize” tab and tap on the “Change Icon…” option.
  2. For shortcuts, follow a similar process. Right-click on the shortcut, select “Properties,” switch to the “Shortcut” tab, and then choose “Change Icon…”

In both scenarios, a variety of default icons will appear for selection. If you have a specific icon in mind, use the “Browse…” button to find and pick your custom icon file. Remember, for compatibility with Windows 11, the icon should be in .ICO format.

After choosing your new icon, click “Apply” to save the changes and “OK” to exit the properties window. Your folders and shortcuts will now sport a fresh appearance with the new icon.

Applying Special or Downloaded Icons

Once you have the perfect icon for your folder or shortcut, applying it is a breeze. Make sure the icon is in the .ICO format as Windows 11 currently only supports this format for icons. Whether you downloaded a top-notch icon from places like FlatIcon, Icon8, or IconArchive, or crafted your own work of art, here’s how to use it:

  1. Right-click on the folder or shortcut you want to customize and select ‘Properties’.
  2. For folders, go to the ‘Customize’ tab and click ‘Change Icon…’. For shortcuts, head to the ‘Shortcut’ tab and pick ‘Change Icon…’.
  3. In the Change Icon window, hit ‘Browse…’ to find your downloaded or custom icon file.
  4. Select the icon and click ‘Open’ to preview it. If content, click ‘OK’.

Don’t forget to hit ‘Apply’ to save your changes, then ‘OK’ to complete the process. By following these steps, you can inject a personalized touch into your Windows 11 interface. If you’re curious about how to change file icon on Windows 11 for unsupported file types, third-party software may be needed, which we’ll delve into later.

Securing Icons Post-Modifications

Once you’ve jazzed up your icons, it’s essential to ensure they withstand various system alterations and updates. Windows 11 makes customizing folder and shortcut icons, desktop icon settings, and theme-related tweaks effortless. Ready-made icons and personal options bolster customization, but maintaining these alterations demands precision.

To prevent your fresh icons from reverting after a system update, consider these measures:

  1. If you employed a third-party tool for icon changes, revert to default icons before updating Windows. This can prevent conflicts arising from patched icon files with system files.
  2. Post-update, reapply your custom icons as updates may overwrite your changes.
  3. Regularly clear your icon cache to ensure your custom icons display correctly and fix any graphical glitches that may crop up.

By adhering to these steps, you can revel in a personalized and consistent visual experience on your Windows 11 setup.

Tweaking Default and System Icons

Adjusting Default Desktop Icons

Switching the default desktop icons in Windows 11 like ‘This PC’ or the ‘Recycle Bin’ necessitates a distinct method from customizing standard file or folder icons. To begin, right-click on an empty spot on your desktop and choose ‘Personalization’. Scroll down to ‘Themes’, then click on ‘Desktop icon settings’.

Here’s how you can modify the default icons:

  1. From the ‘Desktop Icon Settings’ window, opt for the icon you wish to alter.
  2. Tap the ‘Change Icon…’ button to access the icon selection window.
  3. If you have a custom icon, hit ‘Browse…’ to locate and select your downloaded icon file.
  4. Once you’ve made a selection, click ‘OK’ to preview it. If pleased, click ‘Apply’ to confirm the changes.

Remember to use icons in the .ICO format, as this is the only format supported by Windows for desktop icons. If the new look doesn’t suit you, revert to defaults by choosing ‘Restore Default’ in ‘Desktop Icon Settings’. Customizing your desktop icons can enhance personalization and make your workspace uniquely yours.

Swapping Icons for System Apps and Shortcuts

Windows 11 empowers users to personalize their computing setup, including system apps and shortcuts icons. Changing these icons can revamp your desktop’s appearance and aid quick identification of frequently used applications.

To switch the icon for a system app or shortcut, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the app or shortcut and choose ‘Properties’.
  2. For shortcuts, head to the ‘Shortcut’ tab; for system apps, visit the ‘Customize’ tab.
  3. Click ‘Change Icon…’ to open the icon selection window.
  4. Opt for a preset icon or click ‘Browse…’ to cherry-pick a custom icon in .ico format from your local storage.
  5. Post-selection of the new icon, hit ‘OK’ to confirm.
  6. Click ‘Apply’, then ‘OK’ again to finalize the adjustments.

Keep in mind, relocating the .ico file after applying it to an icon will nullify the change. Ensure the icon file stays in its original spot to retain the fresh appearance. Additionally, some system icons may not support native customization, but you can create shortcuts and modify their icons using the outlined method.

Utilizing Third-Party Apps for Icon Tweaks

When the built-in icon customization options on Windows 11 fall short, third-party apps can offer a comprehensive solution. These apps typically offer a wide array of icon selections and the ability to apply changes system-wide with ease. For example, tools like 7tsp enable bulk icon changes, saving significant time.

How to change icon on Windows 11 using external tools involves a few steps:

  1. Download and install the preferred icon customization app.
  2. Back up your system or create a restore point before making adjustments.
  3. Select an icon pack or individual icons within the app.
  4. Apply the changes and restart your computer if prompted.

Note that while these apps are powerful, they can impact system files. It’s crucial to use reputable software and follow instructions carefully. If you encounter issues like Windows 11 folder icons not displaying after installing from the Microsoft Store, consider restoring the default icon pack before applying system updates. Also, for those curious about how to change icon on Windows 11 Pro, the process mostly remains the same, with professional tools offering enhanced customization options.

Nilesh Kamble is Certified in Microsoft & GCP, having 13+ Years of Experience in IT Industry. As a Senior IT Employee, having vast experience on Windows Server, Windows Client, Powershell, Cloud Technologies. Passionate about Laptop, Mobiles & Other emerging Technologies.