How to Customize the Contacts Folder Icon in Windows

The Contacts folder is a shell folder that can be relocated like any other shell folder like Documents, Music, Pictures, etc. However, unlike other shell folders, the Contacts folder doesn’t have a “Customize” tab in the property sheet. You may be wondering how to change the Contacts folder icon.

We’ll see how to customize the Contacts folder icon in all versions of Windows, including Windows 10 and 11.

Customize the Contacts Folder Icon in Windows

There are two ways you can customize the Contacts folder icon. The first method is to flip a registry value, so the “Customize” tab is visible in the Contacts folder properties. The second method is the Desktop.ini method.

Method 1: Enable the Customize tab using the registry

  1. Start the Registry Editor by running regedit.exe.
  2. Go to the following key:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FolderDescriptions\{56784854-C6CB-462B-8169-88E350ACB882}\PropertyBag
  3. Double-click NoCustomize and set it to 0.
  4. Exit the Registry Editor.
  5. Open your Contacts folder only via the File Explorer navigation pane, not directly.
    contacts folder navigation pane
  6. Right-click on the Contacts folder and choose Properties.
    contacts folder customize tab
  7. You should see the Customize tab. Click “Change icon” and select your custom resource (.ico or .dll) file.
    contacts folder customize tab - change icon
  8. Click Apply, and click OK.

Important: In Step 5, you must use the Explorer navigation pane to switch to the folder instead of accessing the folder path directly. Or else the “Change icon” option would be missing.

contacts folder - customize tab change icon missing

Contacts folder icons – Before and after.

contacts folder - change icon



contacts folder - change icon


Method 2: Customize the icon manually using Desktop.ini

  1. Find the Contacts folder path, just in case it’s relocated. To do so, open your C:\Users\USERNAME folder, right-click Contacts, and click Properties.
  2. Click the Location tab and note down the folder path.
  3. Right-click Start, Run.
  4. Type the following:
    notepad.exe PATH_TO_CONTACTS_FOLDER\desktop.ini

    Example:

    notepad.exe C:\Users\Ramesh\Contacts\desktop.ini

Case 1: If the Desktop.ini file opens:

  1. Replace the following line in the desktop.ini file:
    IconResource=%SystemRoot%\system32\imageres.dll,-181

    With the following (pointing to your custom icon – include the trailing “,0” as mentioned)

    IconResource=D:\Icons\contacts.ico,0
  2. Save the file.

Case 2: If the Desktop.ini file is missing:

  1. If you see the following prompt when opening Desktop.ini using Notepad, click Yes:
    Cannot find the C:\Users\USERNAME\contacts\desktop.ini file.
    
    Do you want to create a new file?
  2. Then, paste the following lines into the file and save it.
    [.ShellClassInfo] 
    [email protected]%CommonProgramFiles%\system\wab32res.dll,-10100 
    [email protected]%CommonProgramFiles%\system\wab32res.dll,-10200 
    IconResource=D:\Icons\contacts.ico,0
    [ViewState] 
    Mode= 
    Vid= 
    FolderType=Contacts

    Note: The path “D:\Icons\contacts.ico” is used as an example. Please use the correct IconResource path (including the trailing ,0) in desktop.ini, and save the file.

  3. In a Command Prompt window, run the following commands to refresh the icons:
    attrib +r PATH_TO_CONTACTS_FOLDER
    
    ie4uinit.exe -show

    Note: In the above examples, please replace the placeholder text PATH_TO_CONTACTS_FOLDER with the actual path to the Contacts folder — e.g., C:\Users\Ramesh\Contacts

    contacts folder change icon refresh

  4. Wait 5-10 seconds for the icons to refresh. If not, log off and log back into your account. If the above doesn’t update the icons, follow one of the methods in the article Wrong icon for file type; how to refresh the icons.

Instructions in this article apply to all versions of Windows, including Windows 10 and 11.


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Ramesh Srinivasan is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a consecutive ten-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award in the Windows Shell/Desktop Experience category, from 2003 to 2012. He loves to troubleshoot and write about Windows. Ramesh founded Winhelponline.com in 2005.

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