How to Change App Icons on Windows

How to Change App Icons on Windows

Many apps feature icons that aren’t really aesthetic, and that alone could disturb your desktop’s look! Fortunately, you can change app icons or folder icons in many ways to personalize your Windows PC.

How to Change App Icon in Windows

To change an app’s icon in Windows, you’ll need to create a shortcut for it. In many cases, when a program installs on your system, it also creates a shortcut that is placed on the desktop, but that does not apply to all apps on your PC.

  • To create a shortcut for any app, locate its. EXE file. It should be in the “C -> Program Files” or “C -> Program Files (x86)” directories.
  • Right-click the. EXE file and select “Send to -> Desktop (create shortcut).”
Creating a desktop shortcut for EXE file in File Explorer.
  • To change the icon, right-click the shortcut and select “Properties,” then “Change Icon.”
Clicking on
  • Select an icon from the default options available.
Default icon options for Firefox.
  • Alternatively, click on “Browse” and upload your own icon. One of the best places to get app icons is the IconArchive website. It allows you to download copyright-free icons to use wherever you want. Another option is the Pichon free app, which is available via the Microsoft Store.
  • Find an icon you like on the website. Press “All Download Formats,” then select the “Download ICON” option.
Downloading ICO files from Icon Archive website.
  • Add the custom icon via the app’s “Properties” window.
Change app icon for Firefox with one downloaded from Pichon.

How to Change a Microsoft Store (UWP) App Icon

Changing the app icon of a Microsoft Store app is a bit different. You can’t create a shortcut for it as shown in the previous section, as its files (including the. EXE file) are protected in the WindowsApp folder. However, there’s a workaround:

  • To create a shortcut that opens a UWP app, you need the AppID. To locate it, open PowerShell as an administrator and run the following command.

get-StartApps | Format-Table | Out-String -width 9999

Running command in PowerShell.
  • PowerShell will list all the AppIDs for all programs on your Windows device. Look for the one you want to create a custom shortcut for and copy its AppID. In this example, we are targeting Netflix.
Identifying app ID for app you want to change icon for.
  • Go to the desktop, right-click any empty space, and select “New -> Shortcut.”
Creating new shortcut for Microsoft app.
  • In the location field, paste the following command, replacing AppID with the specific ID you copied in the previous step. Click “Next.”

explorer.exe shell:appsFolder\AppID

Adding location in
  • The wizard will ask you to name the shortcut. Do so and press “Finish.”
Naming shortcut in
  • The newly-created shortcut will look like a folder. Right-click it and select “Properties,” then change its icon to your custom icon.
Changing icon for Microsoft app via Properties window.
  • Now you have a customized icon that can launch a UWP app. However, when you launch it, the app’s original icon will appear on the taskbar.
Original Microsoft app icon viewable in Taskbar.

How to Change the Folder Icon in Windows

Changing the icon for a folder is more straightforward than changing an app, as you can customize it directly without creating a shortcut. Moreover, Windows gives you numerous built-in icons to choose from for folders.

  • Locate the folder with an icon you’d like to change and right-click it, then choose “Properties.”
  • Navigate to the “Customize” tab and select “Change icon.” Choose from the available icons in Windows or download and use your favorite icon from IconArchive, Pichon or anywhere else.
Clicking on

How to Change a File Type Icon in Windows

Changing the default icon for a file type means that every file of that type will have the same icon. For example, if you changed the icon for the DOCX file type, every Word file on your device would display the new icon.

  • To change a file type icon, use the free software FileTypesMan by NirSoft. It’s compatible with Windows versions XP to 11.
  • Launch the program for it to list all the known file types in your system. Scroll down to find your target file type. Alternatively, use the “Find” option.
Using the
  • Once you find your type, right-click on it and select the “Edit Selected File Type” option.
Clicking on
  • In the “Edit File Type” window, make sure you copy the “Default Icon” path and save it somewhere. You can use that to revert to the default icon, should you choose to.
  • Click on the “Browse” button appearing next to the “Default Icon” field.
Clicking on three dots next to
  • If you like one of the listed icons, select it. Otherwise, click on the “Browse” button to select your own custom icon.
Changing icon for file type via the FileTypesMan program.
  • The selected icon will be listed in the “Change Icon” window. Select it and click the “OK” button.
New icon in
  • Click the “OK” button to save the changes.
Filetypesman Confirm
  • The file type icon will be changed instantly.
New file type icon activated.
  • If you want to change back to the default icon, go through the same procedure again but replace the custom icon path with the default icon path you copied earlier.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I change the Start menu app icons?

Yes. Open the Start menu and click “All apps.” Right-click the app and select “Open File Location.” (You may need to click “More” first.) This will take you to where the shortcut was originally stored. Right-click the shortcut and select “Properties -> Change Icon.”

Can I change the folder icon’s color?

Yes. You’ll need to download an app for that called Folder Colorizer. Once installed, you can navigate to any folder you want to colorize, right-click it and select “Set folder color” from the available options.

Can I create an invisible folder?

By managing folder icons, you can make any folder invisible in Windows. Create a new folder or press F2 to rename an existing one, then hold Alt and quickly press 0160. This will create an empty symbol, making the folder look like it has no name. Next, right-click the folder and select “Properties.” Switch to the “Customize” tab, then click “Change Icon.” Browse through the icons until you find the transparent one. Now you have an invisible folder, but it will appear once you select the area it’s in or when pressing Ctrl + A to select all files.

Can I pin custom app icons to the taskbar?

Yes. Once you create any custom shortcut, you can right-click it and select “Pin to Taskbar.” Note that when lunching a UWP app, the app’s original icon will appear in the taskbar instead.

All screenshots and images by Mustafa Ashour.

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