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Change a File Type’s Icon in Windows 7

In Windows XP, you could change the icon associated with a file type in Windows Explorer. In Windows 7, you have to do some registry hacking to change a file type’s icon. We’ll show you a much easier and faster method for Windows 7.

File Types Manager

File Types Manager is a great little utility from NirSoft that includes the functionality of Windows XP’s folder options and adds a whole lot more. It works great in Windows 7, and its interface makes it easy to change a bunch of related file types at once.

A common problem we run into are icons that look too similar.

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You have to look for a few seconds to see the difference between the movies and the text files. Let’s change the icon for the movie files to make visually scanning through directories much easier.

Open up File Types Manager.

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Find the “Default Icon” column and click on it to sort the list by the Default Icon. (We’ve hidden a bunch of columns we don’t need, so you may find it to be farther to the right.)

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This groups together all file extensions that already have the same icon. This is convenient because we want to change the icon of all video files, which at the moment all have the same default icon.

Click the “Find” button on the toolbar, of press Ctrl+F. Type in a file type that you want to change.

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Note that all of the extensions with the same default icon are grouped together.

Right click on the first extension whose icon you want to change and click on Edit Selected File Type, or select the first extension and press F2.

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Click the “…” button next to the Default Icon text field.

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Click on the Browse… button. File Types Manager allows you to select .exe, .dll, or .ico files.

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In our case, we have a .ico file that we took from the wonderful public domain Tango icon library.

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Select the appropriate icon (if you’re using a .exe or .dll there could be many possible icons) then click OK.

Repeat this process for each extension whose icon you would like to change.

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Now it’s much easier to see at a glance which files are movies and which are text files! Of course, this process will work for any file type, so customize your files’ icons as you see fit.

Download File Types Manager from NirSoft for Windows

Trevor is our resident Linux geek, but always keeps his eyes open for neat Windows tricks too.

  • Published 03/8/10

Comments (24)

  1. lou

    Hello: Thank you for all your help. I have a question — You 03-08-10 article walked us through a process for changing file icons. Would you please show me how to just change the folder icon color. I would find this very helpful to identify folder associations when moving files, for instance.

    lou

  2. HugoHilter

    On my Win machines runs always TuneUp Utilities – now version 2010. That´s good too, to change things like icons and so on.

  3. Gene

    I have wondering and trying to figure that out………………thanks very much

  4. Trevor Bekolay

    @Iou

    MysticGeek covered a great program for changing folder icons last April: Folderico. Is that the kind of thing you’re looking for?

    @HugoHilter

    I haven’t used TuneUp Utilities before, but I’ll check it out, thanks!

  5. Sandra Erb

    Just what I needed. Thanks for posting the information about File Types Manager. A program I used just changed the type name for .png and .jpg files to the name of the program+files. Thanks to File Types Manager I could revert this change.

  6. LA-dude

    Hi, I’m sorry I have a really newbie question. What can I do if I want to restore the file type icons to the defaults? ex. to the winamp icons
    thanks in advance

  7. Renato

    Just what I wanted!! I like to have specific icons to each of video files (mkv, ogm, avi, mp4 etc). The new TuneUp Utilities doesn’t do it anymore with all files (like mkv or ogm), so I was looking for an alternative. Thanks so much for telling us about this program! Better and simpler than I expected!

  8. David Walker

    You say “its interface makes it easy to change a bunch of related file types at once”. Um, no it doesn’t. You have to change the icon for each file type, one at a time.

    Unfortunately, when you select more than one entry in the interface, the “edit selected file type” option is now greyed out and can’t be selected.

    There are at least 69 image types that are easily selected to be opened by Irfanview, but I hate its default icon. So I have to change them one at a time. (The option INSIDE Irfanview to change image icons doesn’t work in Windows 7 x64.)

    But, it’s better than hacking through the registry…

  9. BTeixeira

    Does anyone else think it’s ridiculous that you need to hack your registry or get some third-party tool to achieve this?? I find it incredible that microsoft just takes features away like this. Why can’t they keep features? It’s like they can’t just improve the system. They launch a new version of windows and they take out just as much as they put in. Incredible.

  10. JPS

    Couldn’t be more welcome, as it was a long search to find such a tool, and I am most pleased by finding it.
    Most important of all is …… IT WORKS….. and that is great thanks for helping me out.
    Greets JP

  11. JackJ

    File Types Manager doesn’t really work. It associates an icon with a program NOT with an extension. e.g. if I have a program, say “whatever.exe”, and I wish to have this program open (or execute) files with two or more distinct extensions (each with a different icon) say “.xxe” and “.xxc” the same icon will apply to both extensions even though the registry is showing a different icon registered for these extension. Of course its not File Type Manager’s fault that Windows 7 use some peculiar method of assigning icons.
    None of the registry manipulation methods work for assigning icons in Windows 7 in a fool proof manner. They work sometimes and fail at other times.
    Does anyone know Icons a really assigned in Windows 7. You run into problems if you ever open an icon assgned to a specific exe file using another program, such as a text editor.

  12. 404

    fuck off software is shit it will change all icons that open with same software.

  13. Frank

    Software (v1.60) didn’t change any of my icons.

  14. halim

    not working.. i thought i didn’t understand correctly, but it just doesnt work. terrible 30 minutes blaming myself. huh.

  15. BarZef

    thank you very much,

    this is what i need…..

    i believe in sharing knowledge and teaching……

  16. Camera

    v1.61 doesn’t work for me, either. Tried changing a number of icons for filetypes based on the above instructions, but nothing worked. The screen did a refresh and the icons remained the same. :(

  17. Boredsilly

    For those who can’t get it to work null out the perceived type field as this will take precedence over the icon you selected.

  18. Yaşil™

    Thank you for all your help.
    This working.
    OS: Win7 – x64

  19. Roi

    What exactly is the manual way of doing this? I want to get down and dirty in the registry :D

  20. Ashil-2p

    Oh yes Thanks For All thing :-*

  21. SZZ1385

    Worked perfectly on Win7 x64. Thnx.

  22. Zequez

    Well thanks you! Very useful for those portable programs that you save in your Dropbox ^^

  23. Gibz

    Only works if the default program is the original eg WMP for opening WMV format. Otherwise if default program is changed, I can’t see it working

  24. buntu

    Gah! I am NOT liking Windows 7. Thanks for the program.

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