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Customizing Desktop Icons

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011 by | Filed Under: Desktop Enhancement, Uncategorized

Rosa from Oregon writes:

Is there any way to change an icon to something other than what Windows has? Do you know of any good sites where I could get some?

Hi, Rosa! I, too, like different kinds of icons.

There are sites where you can get great icons, and you have to download them and install them yourself. Since I chose a rather obscure icon for the shortcut I made to clear my clipboard and want to change it, we can walk through my experience with this together.

First, open your browser (Internet explorer, Chrome, Firefox, whatever), go to your favorite search engine and type in download free icons. Or, if you prefer, type in the type of icon you would like, i.e. download free clipboard icon (that’s what I went looking for).

The really good sites usually come up first (ya think?). Find Icons and Icon Finder are a couple of good ones; I like them because they are icon search engines and have a good selection.

I’ll now walk you through the download/install of a custom icon.

As I mentioned previously, I made a custom shortcut to clear my clipboard easily from my desktop and assigned an icon to it. Since I didn’t like the choice of clipboard icons that Windows gave me and since I was in the mood to be different, I chose a tree (don’t ask).

I went to Icon Finder and found a couple of clipboard icons that I liked and went to download them. There is an option to download an .ico file next to each icon. To make it simple, always download the .ico file. Since it is the extension for Windows icons, all you have to do is install it; with other file extensions (such as .png) you will have to make sure it’s the right size, convert it to an .ico file…Why do that when it’s already done for you? Unless you’d like to, of course. I have done that and it was nice being creative. It’s up to you.

Okay: Left-click to download and save the first .ico file. Make sure to save it to a place that’s easy to remember; I saved mine to my desktop.

This is the icon for the “clear clipboard” shortcut I made.

Okay, now right click on your current icon (mine would be the tree), and then left-click on Properties.

In the box that pops up (it will say the name of your current icon/Properties across the top; mine says Clear Clipboard Properties), go to the Shortcut tab and left-click on it.

Now go a little way down and you will see the option to Change Icon. Left-click on it.

Now the box of boring (oops, sorry) Windows icons will pop up. There is a line that says Look for icons in this file above it, and next to it, it says Browse. Unless you downloaded your icon(s) to that folder, left–click on it to go (browse) to the place that you downloaded the icon file(s). As I said, I downloaded mine to my desktop; it’s easy to find and even easier to remember. (This is very important, at least to me, since I can walk into a room and forget what I was there for.)

Now another box pops up that says Change Icon across the top. This is where you can see your computer folders, files, etc. Go to wherever you saved your icon(s), left-click on the icon that you want to use. The empty line that was there (with to the right of it) will now have the name of your new icon file in it. Now left-click on Open.

Now you are looking at a window with your new icon in it. Left-click on it to highlight it and then left-click on OK.

And now you’re looking at the very first box you started with. Left-click on Apply, and then left-click on OK. You now have a brand new (non-Windows) icon for your shortcut.

Mine now looks like this.

I don’t think I’ll miss my tree.

Thanks for writing, Rosa!

~ Lori Cline

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5 Responses to “Customizing Desktop Icons”

  1. Marilyn says:

    Lori Cline,
    I was so IMPRESSED with this tip layout describing step by step etc., I had to come here to comment on it. I have not tried it yet as I came here first.
    Keep up the SUPERB work with your presentations.

  2. Sushant says:

    Very useful info!
    Thanks a lot for sharing!

  3. Keith Monson says:

    I have a similar but different problem. All shortcuts have a little arrow on them. For some reason on my Vista laptop the little arrow has been replaced by the symbol windows displays when it can’t find a program associated with a file. (An icon of of white page with a fold in the corner inside that is a graphic of a “window”). How do I get my little arrow back? This error graphic obscures 80% of the shortcut icon!

  4. Linda says:

    Why save to desktop – you will have a load of clutter very soon. Much better to make a folder in my pics labeled icons and save any nice ones in there, all ready to use but tucked away

  5. Peggy Bannon says:

    Lori, This was very clear all the way through. I assume I can browse and choose a photo for an icon?

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