Using Default Programs Editor to Change File Type Icons in Windows 7 and Windows Vista

Changing the file type icons in Windows XP and earlier Operating Systems was a breeze, using the File Types tab in the Folder Options dialog. Unfortunately the File Types tab has been discontinued since Windows Vista and there is no alternate GUI provided to change a file type icon or to customize the right-click menu. Earlier we showed you how to change the file type icon manually using registry edits. In this article, we’ll see how to change a file type icon using the excellent Default Programs Editor utility, which we’ve covered before.

How to Change the File Type Icon Using Default Programs Editor

Download Default Programs Editor, unzip and run the executable. This utility is portable; requires no installation.

Select File Type Settings

Click Icon, and select the file extension for which you want to change the icon, in the next screen.

This screen shows the current icon for the file type. To change it, click the Browse button.

In the icon picker dialog that’s displayed, browse/locate an icon library, or point to a .ico file if you have one. I chose Shell32.dll which contains >200 icons, and selected the text pad icon.

Click the Save Icon button to save the changes to the registry. The icon for .abc file type would update itself automatically.

Saving Settings to a REG file

In case you need to apply the changes to several computers, you can output the settings to a .REG file. This can be done by clicking the arrow mark near the Save Icon button, and choosing Save to .reg file.

You can then deploy the .reg file across other PCs.

To accomplish the above task manually, read How to Change the Icon for a File Type in Windows 7 and Vista.

Default Programs Editor has more features that what has been discussed above. It’s an excellent "File Types" tab replacement, plus it does much more. If you liked this tool and willing to donate money to the author, visit their site here.

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.

9 thoughts on “Using Default Programs Editor to Change File Type Icons in Windows 7 and Windows Vista

  1. Completely unhelpful. Most of us can figure out how to change the file icons like this. What is hard is trying to change it so that the file types themselves are different icons even though they open in the same program. I know this is possible, as it does this for a lot of stuff in Windows 7, but sometimes if files are associated a certain way (which I’m not sure of how) then all files, regardless of being different extensions, are stuck with the same damn icon, which is infuriating. Super infuriating. I don’t know wtf Micro$oft was thinking, but once again they changed & took something away from power users, which affected nobody & was never a problem for anyone, so didn’t need to be removed.

  2. Terrific Tool. Microsoft clearly couldn’t care less about their customers. I find it beyond incredible that the built-in ability to do this was removed.

  3. This tool resolved a problem which annoyed me since the beginning of this year. I have a file type .!!! for important text files (and of course .txt and .ini) which are all opened by the same program (EditPadPro). However since changing to Windows 7 both .!!! and .ini had the same file icon – and i did not find a method to change that.
    Thanks for this tool.

  4. Thanks for this pointing me to the very cool tool. One issue I am experiencing – it won’t change my .msg icons (I have dragged Outlook mesages into files on “My Documents” although it says it has. Any suggestions?

  5. wow ! I have spent what seems to be countless hours trying to change the icons on boring
    mp3, wma and mp4 songs without having to alter my registry.

    This program is powerful and I can’t thank you enough for sharing it with me !!

    Smiling again because of you :)

  6. It’s a great tool but shouldn’t have been wizard-based. A single window with all settings like XP’s File Types Tab would be so awesome.

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