Windows is all about customizing and hacking the user interface (shell) the way you like. If you want to change the default folder icon with your custom .ico file, this article tells you how. Instructions apply to all versions of Windows, including Windows 10.
Change the Default Folder icon in Explorer
1. Launch Regedit.exe and navigate to the following location:
2. Create two REG_SZ values namely
4. For both the values
5. Exit the Registry Editor, logoff and login back for the icons to refresh.
Here are a couple of variations I used and how they appear.
(Blue folder icon from imageres.dll)
(Green folder icon from imageres.dll)
There are some great icons inside Shell32.dll and Imageres.dll. Also, there are sites that provide fancy folder icons which you can download for free. Here are some icons I extracted from Shell32.dll and Imageres.dll which you can use.
Additional Tip: Setting a Different “Open” Folder Icon
You can set a different icon for “open” folder (vs “closed” folder). Note that the setting has no effect in Windows 10’s File Explorer. But Registry Editor in Windows 10 respects the open folder icon.
For example, if you set the value data for string value
(which is an arrow icon)
it appears as follows:
(Windows 10’s Registry Editor shows the open folder icon – blue arrow)
And in earlier versions of Windows, it’s reflected in Explorer navigation pane as well.
(Folder pane in Windows Vista)
(Folder pane in Windows XP)
(Registry Editor in Windows Vista).
To automate the above “open folder” icon setting, download openfolder.zip and save to Desktop. Unzip the files to a folder and double-click openfolder.reg to run it. To reverse the changes to switch back to the default icon, run openfolder-undo.reg.
About the author
Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com 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.