Adding customised Icons to Windows 10 Pro

One thing I've never been able to fully grasp and get my head around in Window 10 is how to add custom Icons to Windows 10 and where the best places are to find Icons.

For example, if I find some icons that I like, how do I add them to be available in the "%SystemRoot%\system32\imageres.dll" file?

I've read many articles found using Google on this topic, but none of them explained the process very well in my opinion and just left me confused. So my questions are;

  1. How to add icons to Windows 10 "imageres.dll" file so that they are available to me when I want to select a different desktop Icon for a folder or whatever?
  2. Is it possible to have a folder with Icons in it that can then be browsed and selected when using the Properties > Change Icon option on folders or Program Icons? If so, what size do these icons have to be in order to be used?
  3. What are some of the best sites to find Windows 10 compatible Icons? Free preferred, but good Paid sites are not out of the question for me.

I ask you please provide detailed explanations to questions 1 and 2, rather than just links to external sites if possible. Answers from those who have personal experience in these matters would be great, as well as screenshots of steps included in your answers if possible.

I am skilled with Windows 10, but having trouble figuring out the best way to solve this particular requirement.

Any assistance would be appreciated.

Many thanks.

Andrew
LVL 21
Andrew LeniartEE Senior Editor & Independent IT ConsultantAsked:
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Omar SoudaniSenior System EngineerCommented:
Good day Andew,

1) You can't!
2) No, It's not possible. However, windows library icons are not only inside imageres.dll; There are also:

shell32.dll - 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 in Windows 10.
pifmgr.dll - contains old-style icons that were used for all kinds of things, since Windows 95.
accessibilitycpl.dll - has a set of icons that are used mainly for the accessibility features in Windows 10.
explorer.exe - has a few icons used mainly in File Explorer.
ddores.dll - contains icons for hardware devices and resources.
gameux.dll - has a few gaming related icons.
moricons.dll - is another file that contains old-style icons, used by Microsoft in old Windows versions.
mmcndmgr.dll - is yet another file with old looking icons
mmres.dll - has icons with various audio resources, like speakers, headphones, microphones etc.
netcenter.dll - has 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'll find icons for Bluetooth or for wireless routers.
networkexplorer.dll - another .dll file with a few network related icons.
pnidui.dll - has icons for network related settings (Ethernet or wireless status, network locations, etc.).
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 wizard of various hardware devices.
wmploc.dll - contains icons used for media devices, files, folders, and so on.
wpdshext.dll - has icons for some portable devices and battery indicators.
compstui.dll - includes various classic icons from older versions of Windows.
ieframe.dll - contains the icons used in Internet Explorer.
dmdskres.dll - contains the icons for disk management.
dsuiext.dll - includes icons for network services.
mstscax.dll - stores icons used for remote desktop connections.
wiashext.dll - has icons for various imaging hardware devices, like scanners and cameras.

Check attached file on where you should replace the name of the dll file.

Furthermore; the only way I know about adding a custom icon to a folder in windows is using "desktop.ini" file it is a hidden Windows operating system configuration settings file located in every folder, that determines how the folder is displayed along with its other Properties – like the icon used for that folder, its localized name, sharing properties, etc. If you're interested in playing a little bit with system files please let me know.
Custamization.png
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Andrew LeniartEE Senior Editor & Independent IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Hi Omar,

Thank you for the useful and very detailed information as to where I can find already installed system Icons, however, what I'm wanting to know is how to add or use custom icons that I can find on the web. How to add these to Windows 10 so that they can be available to me.

Ie. From my question...

  1. How to add icons to Windows 10 "imageres.dll" file so that they are available to me when I want to select a different desktop Icon for a folder or whatever?
  2. Is it possible to have a folder with Icons in it that can then be browsed and selected when using the Properties > Change Icon option on folders or Program Icons? If so, what size do these icons have to be in order to be used?
  3. What are some of the best sites to find Windows 10 compatible Icons? Free preferred, but good Paid sites are not out of the question for me.

The answer to question 1 would be nice, but I'd settle for instructions on number 2 and 3 of the above questions.

Thanks...
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Shaun VermaakTechnical Specialist IVCommented:
1) How to add icons to Windows 10 "imageres.dll" file so that they are available to me when I want to select a different desktop Icon for a folder or whatever?
Resource hacker can probably do this but it is not supported. You can make your own DLL with icons

2) Is it possible to have a folder with Icons in it that can then be browsed and selected when using the Properties > Change Icon option on folders or Program Icons? If so, what size do these icons have to be in order to be used?
Absolutely. A folder with ICO files will suffice

3) What are some of the best sites to find Windows 10 compatible Icons? Free preferred, but good Paid sites are not out of the question for me.
You can convert any image to ICO with
http://convertico.com/
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Andrew LeniartEE Senior Editor & Independent IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Thank you for the tips Shaun. I think I'd like to wait a bit to see if others have any ideas, especially with recommended icon sites that may already have "ICO" format icons available to choose from, or a utility I can install (free or paid) that I can convert to ICO without having to use an online website.
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Omar SoudaniSenior System EngineerCommented:
You can't add icons to "imageres.dll" or create a folder to choose icons from. However, you can create your own .dll file and add icons to it, but this requires visual basic + Resourceful hacker software. Or by using desktop.ini which allows you to add a custom icon to a folder in windows.

Answer to question 3, you'll find a good library of .dll files in https://dll-archive.com/
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Omar SoudaniSenior System EngineerCommented:
http://icofx.ro/features.html very good utility for creating icons and converting to ico.
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Shaun VermaakTechnical Specialist IVCommented:
You can't add icons to "imageres.dll"
Yes, you can
resourcehacker.png
or create a folder to choose icons from.
Yes, you can. It is just a normal folder with ICO files in it
your own .dll file and add icons to it, but this requires visual basic + Resourceful hacker software. Or by using desktop.ini which allows you to add a custom icon to a folder in windows.
You can use Visual Studio Community edition and create a DLL file and add icons in the project resource tab
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Andrew LeniartEE Senior Editor & Independent IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Hi Omar,

You can't add icons to "imageres.dll" or create a folder to choose icons from.

Actually, while doing more searching, I found that you can do that, unless this video I found is wrong?  Check it out and let me know what you think.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qIAa0YyRoI
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Andrew LeniartEE Senior Editor & Independent IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
http://icofx.ro/features.html very good utility for creating icons and converting to ico.

That looks promising. Thanks, I'll check it out.
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Andrew LeniartEE Senior Editor & Independent IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
You can use Visual Studio Community edition and create a DLL file and add icons in the project resource tab

Shaun, can you check out the video I've found and let me know if you think it's safe to do it that way? Looks easy enough?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qIAa0YyRoI

Thanks...
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Shaun VermaakTechnical Specialist IVCommented:
That is the process I posted above and I have used it for other tasks too.

It is safe to do but your file might be replaced by SFC or a future update/service pack and a future app might start using your custom images.

I would stick with a folder with ICO files or a custom DLL, downside you will have to browse to it when changing icons.
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Andrew LeniartEE Senior Editor & Independent IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
downside you will have to browse to it when changing icons.
Actually, that's not that big a deal for me. Now to just find some great web sites that have a decent selection of ICO files. I'd even be happy with paid sites - I don't mind paying a (reasonable) fee to use other folks work. :)
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Shaun VermaakTechnical Specialist IVCommented:
Icons for web dev but you might like some
https://glyphsearch.com/

and you can buy/download packs from
https://www.iconfinder.com/
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Andrew LeniartEE Senior Editor & Independent IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Thank you very much for the prompt advice and help Shaun and Omar. Very useful info indeed that has pointed me in the right direction to achieve what I want to do. Much appreciate your help! :-)
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
Hi Andrew,
I see that you already closed this question, but I have a few comments for you:

• Omar's list in his item #2 is a direct, word-for-word copy/paste from this article:
https://www.digitalcitizen.life/where-find-most-windows-10s-native-icons

Although there's no copyright notice at the page, it is appropriate, imo, to acknowledge and give credit to that article.

• Omar said,
You can't add icons to "imageres.dll" or create a folder to choose icons from.
As Shaun showed, the first part of that is not true. Also, the second part is not true. I use NirSoft's excellent (free!) IconsExtract utility to extract the icons from imageres.dll, shell32.dll, and many of the other files documented in the DigitalCitizen article.

• My favorite icon site is:
http://www.iconarchive.com/

In the License drop-down, I always select "Commercial free" so I can include them in the programs that I sell. I always download the ICO file for the program and the PNG file for the documentation (user guide/manual). I know that you're using these icons in your AutoHotkey scripts, so it may be helpful for you to use these two lines of code:

TrayIcon:=ScriptFolder . ProgramName . ".ico" ; create icon file name
Menu,Tray,Icon,%TrayIcon% ; display tray icon

Open in new window

Of course, ScriptFolder is A_ScriptDir with a backslash added and ProgramName is A_ScriptName with the last four characters (.ahk or .exe) removed.

• When IconArchive doesn't have what I want (rare!), my second fav site is IconFinder:
https://www.iconfinder.com/

Shaun already suggested that one. Regards, Joe
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Andrew LeniartEE Senior Editor & Independent IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Thank you very much for adding your reply Joe. As always, I find your answers to always be tremendously helpful!

Sincere regards,

Andrew
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
As always, you're very welcome! Oh, one other point. Shaun mentioned this site to convert any image to ICO:
http://convertico.com/

If Shaun suggests it, I'm sure it's great. :)  The site that I use for that capability is:
http://icoconvert.com/

Regards, Joe
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Andrew LeniartEE Senior Editor & Independent IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
I just downloaded this ICO from http://www.iconarchive.com/ and now have it as my Folder to my Startup Folder where I can delete and replace my AutoHotKey re-compiled script :-)

Startup Folder
Here's the PNG version of it...

Folder-Public-icon.png
I like it! :)
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
Very nice! Btw, there's no reason to compile the script into an EXE unless you want to run it on a machine without AutoHotkey installed. But with AutoHotkey installed, it will own the AHK file extension, so all you have to do is put a shortcut to the AHK source code file in your Startup program group, such as:

c:\MyScripts\MyHotkeys.ahk

That way, you don't have to recompile each time you make a change...simply change the script and reload it via right-click>Reload This Script from the system tray icon (or double-click it in File Explorer or run the shortcut for it). Put the following line at the top of your script so you're not prompted about wanting to do the reload:

#SingleInstance force

Regards, Joe
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Andrew LeniartEE Senior Editor & Independent IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
That way, you don't have to recompile each time you make a change...simply change the script and reload it via right-click>Reload This Script from the system tray icon (or double-click it in File Explorer or run the shortcut for it). Put the following line at the top of your script so you're not prompted about wanting to do the reload:

Now you tell me! LoL!  Thanks Joe, I'll do just that, it will be so much easier!

Finish that ruddy course will ya! :) :) :)
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
> Now you tell me!

Yeah, I was gonna tell you when I saw it in your PM but it's still on the to-do list for today. :)  Sorry about that.

> Finish that ruddy course will ya!

As soon as I can stop spending time on EE questions. :)
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