How To Change the Icon of Any Shortcut in Windows

Everybody wants to add a personal touch to their computer. Some change the wallpaper or the Windows theme, others add all kinds of gadgets and apps. You've done all that, but you may feel like it's not enough. Maybe some of your programs have some ugly icons or you don't want to see those boring folders anymore. In this article we will show how you can change the icons of your shortcuts and make them look better.

NOTE: This guide applies to both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

What Is An Icon?

Before you start, you need to download the icons you want to use or create your own new one.

The best known file format used for icons in Windows operating systems is "*.ico". An "*.ico" file stores only one icon. However, there are are file types that store icons which you can use:

  • ".exe" - icons can be embedded into the executable files of an application. An executable file can store one or more icons.
  • ".dll" - sets of icons can also be embedded into DLL (Dynamic-link library) files. A ".dll" can store one or more icons.

Only some ".exe" and ".dll" files store icons, depending on how they were created by their developer. In contrast, "*.ico" will always contain an icon.

How To Change The Shortcut Icon Of A Program Or Folder

Once you have the icon that you want to use, right click or press and hold the shortcut whose icon you want to change. Then, select Properties.

shortcut, icon, change, Windows

Go to the Shortcut tab and press the Change Icon button.

shortcut, icon, change, Windows

In the Change Icon window, you have a list with the icons that come with the application or icons included in Windows. Here you can select the icon you wish to use. Click or tap the Browse button to find the icon you just downloaded.

shortcut, icon, change, Windows

Select the file which contains the new icon and click or tap Open.

shortcut, icon, change, Windows

NOTE: Microsoft recommends that you use an icon with the size 256x256 pixels, so that it will be properly displayed when you use the Large icons view. Smaller icons work too but they don't look great when using this view.

When you're done, press the OK button.

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To confirm the icon change, click OK once again.

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The icon has been changed.

shortcut, icon, change, Windows

How To Change The Icon Of A Pinned Website

Pinned websites are shortcuts you create in Windows 7 and 8.1 to websites - as if they were files on your computer. These shortcuts allow quick access to websites and also function as a home page. When you pin a website, a shortcut (called Pinned Site Shortcut) file is created on your computer, with the extension .website. If you need more information about pinned websites and how can you create them read our guide: The Complete Guide to Pinning Websites with Internet Explorer.

If you want to change the icon of a pinned site shortcut, the procedure is very similar to what we've just described:

Right click or press and hold the shortcut and then a select Properties.

shortcut, icon, change, Windows

In the Properties window, you need to go to the Web Document tab and press the Change Icon button.

shortcut, icon, change, Windows

From now on, the steps are the same as those in the previous section: click the Browse button, select the file containing the icon, select the new icon and confirm by pressing the OK button.


As you can see from this tutorial, changing the icon of any shortcut is easy. It is a great way to make your Windows desktop look unique. If you have any questions or problems, don't hesitate to use the comments form below.

About the Author: Maria Madalina Blaga
Hi! My name is Mădălina and I'm a student at University of Medicine and Pharmacy Carol Davila in Bucharest. I have two big passions in my life: medicine and technology. Being a part of this team offered me the opportunity to learn something new everyday about the digital world we live in and also write about it. When it comes to my work I'm very focused and detail oriented and I like to get things done. When I'm not working I'm a different person: some say I'm a fun person (Thanks mom!) and outgoing. When I'm not out with friends, I like reading books, watching a movie or playing a video game. My biggest fear is public speaking and maybe this is why writing seems so full of possibilities to me.