Where to find most of Windows 10's native icons?

Whether you want to change the default icon of a certain folder or the icon of a shortcut you've created, you might wonder where you could find new icons. While there are lots of websites that offer custom made icon sets, you might however prefer to use icons that are already found on your Windows 10 computer. In this article, we share where you can find all (or so we think) the native icons from Windows 10. So if you want to learn the locations where Windows 10 stores most of its icons, read on:

How are Windows 10 icons stored?

An icon is usually stored inside an .ICO file. However, an .ICO file has a big disadvantage: it can hold only one icon. As we all know, Windows has lots of applications, folders, files and shortcuts, and many of them have their own icons. If Windows had an .ICO file for each icon it uses, that would make for a huge number of icon files. To resolve this problem, instead of using .ICO files to store icons, Windows uses .DLL files. The main advantage of a .DLL file is the fact that it can hold multiple icons inside. As a matter of fact, you could compare an icon .DLL file with a library of icons. When you want to change the icon of a certain file, folder or shortcut, you can simply set its icon location to point to a specific .DLL file, and to a specific icon from it.

To answer the question we've asked in the title of this article, icons from Windows 10 are usually stored inside .DLL files. In the next section, we'll show you where these .DLL files are located in Windows 10.

Where are Windows 10's default icons located?

We tried to organize our list of default Windows 10 icons, both by their .DLL files location, and by taking into consideration the main purpose of the icons found inside these .DLL files.

Here's our list of locations from Windows 10 where you can find .DLL files containing icons:

  • %systemroot%\system32\imageres.dll - contains lots of icons, used almost everywhere in Windows 10. It has icons for different types of folders, hardware devices, actions, and so on.
  • %systemroot%\system32\shell32.dll - also has lots of icons used in various parts of Windows 10. Together with imageres.dll, shell32.dll hosts one of the largest icon collections in Windows 10.
  • %systemroot%\system32\pifmgr.dll - contains old-style icons that were used for all kinds of things, since Windows 95.
  • %systemroot%\explorer.exe - has a few icons used mainly in File Explorer.
  • %systemroot%\system32\accessibilitycpl.dll - has a set of icons that are used mainly for the accessibility features in Windows 10.
  • %systemroot%\system32\ddores.dll - contains icons for hardware devices and resources.
  • %systemroot%\system32\gameux.dll - has a few gaming related icons.
  • %systemroot%\system32\moricons.dll - is another file that contains old-style icons, used by Microsoft in old Windows versions.
  • %systemroot%\system32\mmcndmgr.dll - is yet another file with old looking icons, which we believe were designed mainly for computer management related settings.
  • %systemroot%\system32\mmres.dll - has icons with various audio resources, like speakers, headphones, microphones etc.
  • %systemroot%\system32\netcenter.dll - has icons for network related settings and features.
  • %systemroot%\system32\netshell.dll - contains icons for all kinds of network connections and associated hardware or technologies. For instance, inside it, you'll find icons for Bluetooth or for wireless routers.
  • %systemroot%\system32\networkexplorer.dll - another .dll file with a few network related icons.