Whether you want to change the default icon of a certain folder or the icon of a shortcut you have 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 or device. In this article, we show you where the icons are stored in Windows 10. If you want to find all the default Windows 10 icon files, read on:
How are Windows 10 icons stored?
Icons are usually stored inside ICO files. However, ICO files have a big disadvantage: they can hold only one icon. Windows 10 has lots of applications, folders, files, and shortcuts, and many of them have their unique icons. If Windows had an ICO file for each icon it uses, that would make for a considerable 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 particular file, folder or shortcut, you can just set its icon location to point to a specific DLL file, and a specific icon from it.
Most icons from Windows 10 are stored inside DLL files. In the next section, we show you where these DLLs with icons are found 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 primary purpose of the icons found inside the DLL files. Next, you can see our list of locations from Windows 10 where you find .DLL files containing icons:
The imageres.dll file contains many icons, used almost everywhere in Windows 10. It has icons for different types of folders, hardware devices, peripherals, actions, and so on.
The shell32.dll file 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. Inside it, you can find icons for internet, devices, networks, peripherals, folders and so on.
Pifmgr.dll contains some old-style icons that were found in older versions of Windows, like Windows 95 and Windows 98. In it, you can find funny icons that depict things such as a window, a trumpet, a ball, a wizard hat, and others. 🙂
Explorer.exe has a few icons used by File Explorer and its older versions. The first icon is the default icon used by File Explorer, but the next ones were used in older Windows versions for things like printers, folders, actions, messenger apps, mail, and others.
Accessibilitycpl.dll has a set of icons that are used mainly for the accessibility features in Windows 10. It has icons with people, mouse cursors, a magnifying glass, a mouse and a keyboard, and so on.
Ddores.dll contains icons for hardware devices and resources, such as speakers, headphones, screens, computers, remotes, and gaming pads, mice and keyboards, cameras, printers and so on.
Moricons.dll is another file that contains old-style icons, used by Microsoft in old Windows versions. Most of the icons here are about MS-DOS programs, but you also have icons for old programming languages such as Turbo Pascal or FoxPro.
Mmcndmgr.dll is yet another file with vintage icons, which we believe were designed mainly for computer management related settings. Among others, it includes icons for networks, folders, authentication, time, computers, and servers.
Mmres.dll has a few icons with various audio resources, like speakers, headphones, microphones, and a webcam.
Netcenter.dll has a few icons for network related settings and features.
Netshell.dll contains icons for all kinds of network connections and associated hardware or technologies.
For instance, inside it, you can find icons for Bluetooth, wireless routers, and network connections.
Networkexplorer.dll another .dll file with a few peripherals such as phone, router, a printer or a fax machine, and some network-related icons.
Pnidui.dll has icons for network related settings (Ethernet or wireless status, network locations, etc.). Most of the icons here are transparent white, so you have to select them to see what they look like.
Sensorscpl.dll has a few icons for different kinds of sensors. While most of them look similar, their details indicate things like temperature, power, wind etc.
Setupapi.dll has icons used for the setup wizards of various hardware devices. It has screens, peripherals, hardware components, connectors and plugs, gaming pads, and others.
Wmploc.dll contains multimedia icons used for media devices, music and video files, folders, CD and DVD discs, and so on.
Wpdshext.dll has icons for some portable devices such as cameras, phones or mp3 players, and a few battery indicators.
Comstui.dll includes various classic icons from older versions of Windows.
It has icons with light bulbs, mail, printers, documents, telephones, fax machines and so on.
Ieframe.dll contains the icons used by Internet Explorer for its shortcuts, buttons and menus.
Dmdskres.dll contains icons only used for disk management.
Dsuiext.dll includes icons for network services. It has icons with servers, people, printers, office buildings, authentication services and so on.
Mstscax.dll stores just a few icons used for remote desktop connections, with computers, notifications, and security certificates.
Wiashext.dll has a few icons for various imaging hardware devices, like scanners, cameras, photo and video cameras, and a few similar icons.
Comres.dll contains a few icons that depict a user, a folder, a pencil, and some actions.
Mstsc.exe holds a few other network related icons but also includes other icons like a speaker, a microphone, and a Windows 8 logo.
26. actioncentercpl.dll, aclui.dll, autoplay.dll, comctl32.dll, xwizards.dll, ncpa.cpl, url.dll (all in %systemroot%\system32)
All these files contain icons; however, many have only one icon inside or just a few, so we decided to mention them all together. They have icons used in Windows 10's Action Center, some error and info icons, an autoplay icon, some user icons, and websites icons.
How to use the icons stored inside a .DLL file
Icons stored inside .DLL files cannot be copied and saved elsewhere, at least not unless you use a special app that can extract icons from .DLL files. However, you can use any icon stored inside such a file, to set it as the icon used by a folder, a library or a shortcut. If you need guidance on how to change the icons associated with your shortcuts, this tutorial helps: How to change the icon of any shortcut in Windows. Just copy and paste the path we provided for the DLL that interests you, in the field named "Look for icons in this file."
If you are not satisfied with the icons found in Windows 10, then you might want to look at other places to find icons: 7 sites where you can download free desktop icons for Windows 10.
Do you know any other DLL files with icons from Windows 10?
As you have seen, Windows 10 has lots of icon sets that are built-in. Depending on what kind of icon you need, it is a good chance that you'll find it inside one of the DLL files that we have listed. Do you know other built-in icon locations from Windows 10? If you do, do not hesitate to share them with us, and we promise to update this article as soon as possible.