Folder Icon - Change Vista Default Folder Icon

ByLine
How to Change the Vista Default Folder Icon
Synopsis
This will show you how to change all of the default yellow folder icons in Windows Explorer to any custom icon that you want instead in Vista.
How to Change the Vista Default Folder Icon

information   Information
This will show you how to change all of the default yellow folder icons in Windows Explorer to any custom icon that you want instead in Vista.

User Folder icons will not be affected by this.
Note   Note
If you have thumbnails turned on, then only empty folders will have the new icon displayed in Windows Explorer when the folder view is set to anything other than Small icons, Details, or List. Otherwise the folders will have a thumbnail preview icon when the folder is not empty instead. When the folder view is set to Small icons, Details, or List, then all folders will display the new icon since they are small icons.
Thumbnails_On.jpg
If you have thumbnails turned off, then all folders will have the new icon display no matter what the folder view is set to in Windows Explorer.
Thumbnails_Off.jpg
warning   Warning

  • You can only do this while logged in to a administrator account.
  • This will affect all user account folder icons on the computer.
EXAMPLE: Folder Icon
NOTE:
This is Windows Explorer with the default folder icon (left screenshot) and a custom folder icon (right screenshot). This is with the folder view is set to Details.
Default.jpg
After.jpg




OPTION ONE
Change the Default Folder Icon

1. Open the Start Menu, then type regedit in the search line and press Enter.​
2. If prompted by UAC, then click on Continue.​
3. In regedit, navigate to: (See screenshot below)​
Code:
[/INDENT]
[INDENT]HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer[/INDENT]
[INDENT]
Reg1.jpg

4. In the left pane, right click on the Explorer key and click on New and Key. (See screenshot above)​
5. Type Shell Icons and press Enter. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: If Shell Icons is already here, then you can skip steps 4 and 5.​
Reg2.jpg

6. In the right pane of Shell Icons, right click on a empty space and click on New and String Value. Type 3 and press enter. (See screen shot below)​
Reg3B.jpg ]​

7. Right click on 3 and click on Modify. (See screenshot above)​
8. Type in the full path of the icon that you want to use as the new folder icon.​
NOTE: You must use a 256x256 pixel icon for it to display properly in all icon sizes in Windows Explorer. If you change the icon's location (path), then you must also change the location here in step 8 as well for the folder to still display that icon in Windows Explorer.​
Modify.jpg

9. The registry will now look similar to this with your icon path under the Data column in the right pane instead. (See screenshot below)​
Reg4.jpg

10. Close Regedit.​
11. Log off and Log on, or restart the computer to apply the new folder icon.​



Option Two
To Restore the Default Folder Icon

NOTE: This option assumes that you did OPTION ONE above to change the default folder icon.
1. Open the Start Menu, then type regedit in the search line and press Enter.​
2. If prompted by UAC, then click on Continue.​
3. In regedit, navigate to: (See screenshot below)​
Code:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Icons
Reg4.jpg

4. In the right pane of Shell Icons, right click on 3 and click on Delete. (See screenshot above)​
5. Click on Yes. (See screenshot below)​
Confirm.jpg

6. Close Regedit.​
7. Log off and Log on, or restart the computer to restore the default yellow folder icon.​
That's it,
Shawn


 
Last edited by a moderator:
Shawn Brink

Comments

Hello Id4jong, and welcome to Vista Forums.

You can change a individual folder icon to what you want, but you cannot change the thumbnail icon or it's position. :(

The only workaround that I know of to have a specific thumbnail image to display, is to only have that one image in the folder that you want as that folder's thumbnail, then create a new subfolder in that folder with the rest of your images or files.

Hope this helps,
Shawn
 
How do you change an icon that has a USB drive mapped to it?

I don't want to change my default icon and can't use customize option (once mapped to drive it wont stick and if done prior to map I can't map because of the desktop.ini file).

BRINK, what I think you're asking is you want to specify a specific document to stick out of the default folder icon. If this is so, right click folder,properties,customize,choose file.
 
Thanks but that is for drive specific.

I have a USB Hard Disk wich is mounted to an empty NTFS folder e.g. c:\users\me\folder

This allows me to access the drive quickly from my user and I also know where it is (I have 4 HDD plus many flashdrives, they take the next letter available when mounted).

It is this folder icon I want to change.

At present I have bodged it my making a short cut to the empty folder (drive) and hide the empty folder. This isn't ideal though.

btw I use autorun to give the usb a specific icon
 
I'm afraid that for a mounted folder, that's the only workaround that I know of as well to change it's icon. :(
 
This change in the default folder icon will be applied to folders on all drives as I understand it. But if I have a batch of specific folders on specific drives is there a way to change the icon for all the folders I opt to change it?
 
If I understand this tutorial correctly it would apply the icon change to all folders on my computer. I want to change a specific number of folders icons not every folder to the same icon. Is that possible with Vistas settings tools or are there other programs that will do that?
 
For individual folders you would need to use the tutorials I linked to above, or some 3rd party program that offers that feature instead. :(
 
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