File Extension Type Icon - Change

ByLine
How to Change a File Extension Type Icon in Vista
Synopsis
This will show you how to change the default icon for a file extension type of your choice to whatever icon you want it to be displayed as in Windows Explorer instead.
How to Change a File Extension Type Icon in Vista

information   Information
This will show you how to change the default icon for a file extension type of your choice to whatever icon you want it to be displayed as in Windows Explorer instead.
Note   Note
This will change all of the icons for that file extension type in Vista, not just the shortcuts of them.

To see what the file extension is for a file, see: How to Show and Change a File Name Extension in Vista


Some Common Default Icon Registry Locations:
  • Unknown file icon - HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Unknown\DefaultIcon
  • Folder icon - HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Folder DefaultIcon
Tip   Tip
You can also use the free configuration utilty program named Types to easily change a file extension icon to what you like in a easy to use window instead of through the registry.
warning   Warning

  • You will need to use a 256x256 pixel icon that was made for Vista for them to display properly at all of the available icon view sizes in Vista. For more about Vista icons, see: Icons in Windows Vista
  • Some programs may automatically reset the default file extension icon back to the default one it uses even after you have changed it. This tutorial will not work for these programs.
  • If you change the default program for what opens the file extension, it will also change the icon of the file extension to be whatever it is for the program you selected uses.

EXAMPLE: The Default .txt File Extension Type Icon
Default_TXT_Icon.jpg

Here's How:
NOTE:
For this tutorial, I am going to use just the file extensions .txt and .mp3 as an example. You can change any other files extension you like. Just substitute the file extension you want to change in the steps below instead.
1. Open the Start Menu.​
2. In the white line (Start Search) area, type regedit and press Enter.​
3. Click on Continue in the UAC prompt.​
4. If Using the Default Program in Vista to Open With
NOTE: You would use this option if you are using the default program that Vista uses to open the file extension.​
A) In regedit, go to: (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: Substitute .txt with the file extension you want to change instead.​
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.txt
Reg1_File_Extension.jpg

B) In the right pane of the file extension, look at the Data value to the right of (Default). (See screenshot above)​
NOTE: For example it is txtfile for the .txt file extension type.​
C) Go to step 6.​

5. If Using a 3rd Party Program as the Default Program to Open With
NOTE: You would do this option if you have changed the program used to open the file extension to a 3rd party program instead of the one Vista used by default.​
A) In regedit, go to: (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: Substitute .mp3 with the file extension you want to change instead.​
Code:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\.mp3\UserChoice
NOTE: If you do not have the UserChoice key, then in the left pane, right click on the file extension (ex: .mp3) and click on New and Key. Type UserChoice and press Enter.​
Reg1_Changed.jpg

B) In the right pane of UserChoice, look at the Data value to the right of Progid. (See screenshot above)​
NOTE: For example it is WMP11.AssocFile.MP3 for the .mp3 file extension type by default. Your value will vary depending on the default program you have to open this file extension.​

6. In regedit, scroll down past all the file extensions and keep going until you see: (See screenshots below 7)​
NOTE: Substitute txtfile with the Data value from step 4B or 5B for the file extension you want to change instead.​
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\txtfile

7. Click on the arrow next to txtfile to expand the key (folder).​
NOTE: Substitute txtfile with the Data value from step 4B or 5B for the file extension you want to change instead.​
Reg2_from_File_Extension.jpg
Reg2_Changed.jpg

8. To Backup the Default File Extension Type Icon Settings
NOTE: To restore the default file extension type icon settings from this created backup below, right click on the .reg backup file and click on Merge. Next, approve the merge and log off and log on to apply the change.​
A) Right click on DefaultIcon and click on Export. (See screenshot below step 9)​
B) Select a location to where you want to save the backup (reg file) at. (See screenshot below)​
C) Type in a name and click on the Save button.​
NOTE: Be sure to type in a name that is easily recognized by you for that file extension.​

9. In the right pane of DefaultIcon, right click on (Default) and click on Modify. (See screenshot below)​
Reg3_DefaultIcon.jpg

10. Select Option One or Option Two below for what icon you want to replace the file extension icon with.​



OPTION ONE
Change File Extension Type Icon to a Saved Icon
A. Download and save a icon of your choice to a location you wish to store this icon at.​
NOTE: See the Warning box at the top of this tutorial for about what kind of icon to use. The icon must stay at this location for as long as it is being used for the file extension.​
B. After step 9 above, type in the full path of the icon file location from step A and click on OK. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: For example, I used a icon file on my desktop. Sometimes you will need to add ,0 (number zero) at the end of the full path for it to work. For the example below, C:\Users\User-Name\Desktop\txt file.ico,0
Modify2.jpg

C. The registry will now look similar to this. (See screenshot below)​
Reg5_After.jpg

D. Go to step 11 below Option Two.​




OPTION TWO
Change File Extension Type Icon to another Vista Icon
A. Download and install the free program IconViewer.​
NOTE: This program will add the Icons tab to files (ex: imageres.dll) that contain a icon library in them so you can see the icons available in it.​
B. In Windows Explorer, navigate to C:\Windows\System32\imageres.dll and right click on imageres.dll and click on Properties.​
C. Scroll through the icons and make note of the icon number of the one you want to use to replace the file extension icon with. (See screenshot below)​
Properties.jpg

D. After you had made note of the icon number, close the Properties window and the Windows Explorer window.​
E. After step 9 above, change the number after - at the end to the icon number in step C and click on OK. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: For example, I wanted to change the icon for the .txt file extension to be icon number 19 from step C instead. If you do not have %SystemRoot%\system 32\imageres.dll,-### in Modify, then change it to this with the number (ex: 19).​
Modify1.jpg

F. The registry will now look similar to this. (See screenshot below)​
Reg4_After.jpg

G. Continue to step 11 below.​

11. Close Regedit.​
12. Log off and log on, or restart the computer, to apply the changes.​
NOTE: For the .txt file extension example, the left screenshot below is for after Option One, and the right screenshot is for after Option Two.​
After2.jpg After1.jpg

That's it,
Shawn



Related Tutorials


 
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Shawn Brink

Comments

Hi Ghufran, and welcome to Vista Forums.

I'm sorry to hear that, but we cannot help you if you do not let us know what you need help with, and with as many related details about your problem that you think could be used to help you with. :geek:

Shawn
 
Great job and thanks a million!

I've been looking for ways to change the icons without having to use Iconpackager or On Display and I finally found them here.

Cheers :D
 
Your welcome Quackie, and welcome to Vista Forums. I understand. I do not like using 3rd party programs for something that I can do within Vista if I'm able to either. :geek:

Shawn
 
exactly my point.

just a quick question. say i got a file .hdmov. so i scroll to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.hdmov and in there it tells me the value for (Default) is hdmov_auto_file.

however when i scrolled to hdmov_auto_file, there isn't any DefaultIcon folder when i expanded hdmov_auto_file. the only thing in it was just shell. any ways to work around this?

cheers

 
I suppose as just a test, you could right click on hdmov_auto_file and click on New and Key. Type DefaultIcon and press Enter. Next add the icon path as described here to see if it works. If it doesn't, then you just right click on the DefaultIcon and click on Delete and Yes to approve.

Hope it works for you.
 
Good day,

I love your tutorials, Brink. They are all so useful but I have a question.
I'd like to change the 'unknown' file icon in vista, like either when a file has no extension or when it is not assosiated with any program.

Help would be most appreciated
 
Hi LordChen, and welcome to Vista Forums.

You would go to the the folder key Unknown in step 6 to change it's icon. ;)

Hope this helps,
Shawn
 
I am trying to change the default icon for .css files. I want the icon that dreamweaver uses, but want to open .css files with notepad++. Setting the file association to notepad++ changes the icon, so I can't get the right one.

I tried using DefaultIcon and changing the Progid, but it still won't work.
 
I am trying to change the default icon for .css files. I want the icon that dreamweaver uses, but want to open .css files with notepad++. Setting the file association to notepad++ changes the icon, so I can't get the right one.

I tried using DefaultIcon and changing the Progid, but it still won't work.
Hello iforall, and welcome to Vista Forums.

Be sure you have tried to change the CSSfile - DefaultIcon (see screenshot below) to the one you want. If it still does not change, then the program Notepad++ may be overwriting it.

CSSfile.jpg

Hope this helps,
Shawn
 
Hello again, Shawn

I have encountered some more issues and am in need of your assistance once again.

I changed the default folder icon ( 256x256 ) but when I increase the view to thumbnail, it changes to the vista default yellow one with a preview of the folder's contents. Also, the same thing shows in the details pane for any folder that isn't empty. This does not happen to folders I have personally assigned a specific icon to( through the customization tab ). I was wondering if this could be resolved to simply always show the assigned default folder icon, only bigger. I don't need folder previews.

Another problem I have with folder icons is with the ones showing up in the taskbar. When I have the navigation pane enabled, the folder icon in the taksbar changes to a yellow one with a green arrow coming out of it. Disabling the navigation pane 'fixes' this problem but I like the navigation pane. So, I wanted to know how I could change that yellow folder with green arrow icon to something else. Just like I changed the icon to various file extensions or the default folder icon. Or perhaps another way to disable Vista from changing the icon in the taksbar.

Final problem. This one is a little more specific to my machine but still perhaps you know what I could do about it.
When I tell Opera to open containing folder of a downloaded file, it will open a new window of explorer but within that window alone, all folders going for the default icon recieve the old vista yellow default icon ( again, this doesn't include specific icon changes through customization tab ). All other folder settings are preserved ( like folder view etc ), though.

As a last note, I haven't used any third party program, only your tutorials to change icon settings.

Thank you in advance

p.s.

I was wondering, with all these complicated problems stemming from so many path locations pointing to the wrong ico file, why can't one change the .dll file containing the old ugly yellow vista folder ico to have my new ico. This way, with one stone, you kill a flock of birds. Sure, its risky but what is system restore for !
 
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Hi LordChen,

You could turn off thumbnail previews to fix the first problem.


I do not know how to change that open folder icon (yellow folder with green check) in the Taskbar button though. LOL, I wasn't even aware that disabling the Navigation Pane allowed the new Open Folder icon (green circle with arrow) to be displayed instead. :o

You could change the default folder icon from the Folder key's (step 6) DefaultIcon subkey in the registry. However, it does not affect the icon that you want to change in the Taskbar button.

Hope this helps,
Shawn
 
Turning off thumbnails helped, thanks. Should have seen it myself.

I have already changed the Folder key's DefaultIcon subkey in the registery but it still doesn't affect the folder icons shown while exploring with WinRar or after opening a new explorer window using Opera or Firefox ( they come up as the vista default yellow ones ).

I guess this has to do with the actual program in question and isn't as easy to solve as thumbnail view.
 
The Folder key only affects the standard yellow folder. Every special folder will have it's own DefaultIcon setting as well. Plus, a program can also overwrite the icon with one of it's own instead like ZIP folders. It's just a matter of tracking down the correct DefaultIcon subkey for it. It's not always so easy though. :(

You might also give the 15 day trial version of Vista Manager a try. It will help make icon changes easier to do when you have a bunch to do at one time. It is located at Custimization and Icon Manager in the left side of the program. You only have 15 days to change what you want before the trial period is over, but the changes you have made will remain even after you uninstall Vista Manager later or decide to purchase it.

Hope this helps,
Shawn
 
M
Mm, since I also was tired of using programs as IconPackager and other, I decided to code one myself, it is currently in beta (but the main part of it does work 100%).. It's called Extension Manager, (v0.3A, v0.4A is under dev). What it does is to provide a UI for the registry steps as described above (+ it also has a "change drive icon" feature).


RapidShare: Easy Filehosting
That's the DL link of v0.3A.
(Needs Framework 3,5 as far as I remember).

Screenies:



Anyways, I'm not posting this for any "commercial" purpose, but just to help people, if any admin sees this as any kind of commercial or other unwanted material, I understand so.


Feedback & Suggestions are as always welcome, with your opinions I can make tha app better.
 
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