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How to Add Icon to a Context Menu Item in Windows

When working with Windows 7 RC this week, I stumbled upon another nice and useful feature that I thought I should write about. In Windows 7 and higher, you can add icons to your custom right-click (static) menu entries.

Usually, to display a right-click command with an icon, one needs to write a context menu handler Shell Extension (DLL). Now, you can assign icons for static menu items as well, without having to program anything.

The instructions in this article apply to Windows 7 through Windows 10.

For example, when you add a custom right-click command “Print Directory” using the instructions in the article Print directory contents you see this when you right-click on a directory.

So far so good. Now, you can mention an icon reference which either points to an icon resource inside a .DLL, .EXE, or an .ICO file.

Add an Icon to a Right-Click Menu Entry

  1. Launch the Registry Editor (regedit.exe)
  2. Navigate to the corresponding registry key for the menu item. For example, if you used the previously mentioned link to add the Print Directory command to the context menu, navigate to the following key:
    HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Shell\PrintDir
  3. In the right pane, create a String value (REG_SZ) named Icon
  4. Double-click Icon and type the path to an icon (.ico) file. Or mention the icon library file name and the icon index.
  5. Exit the Registry Editor. Now, right-click on a directory and you’ll see a printer icon near the Print Directory command.

The above registry edit works in Windows 7 through Windows 10.

Other Examples

“Open with Notepad” context menu entry with Notepad icon.

Reference: Add “Open with Notepad” to the Right-click Menu

“Open with Notepad++” context menu — with Notepad++ icon.

Reference: Add “Open with Notepad++” to the Right-Click Menu

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