7-Zip is a fantastic Windows program for advanced file zipping, whether you’re password-protecting your archives or just trying to compress them down even smaller. There’s just one problem: its icons are ugly as sin.

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Normally, I wouldn’t mind too much that an app is ugly–especially one as mundane as a file archiver. But it’s not just 7-Zip’s in-app icons. It also changes your Windows icons for ZIP, 7Z, TGZ, and other archive file types to these horrific, blurry, pre-Vista-looking icons that permeate my hard drive. (See the screenshot above.)

Thankfully, there’s a free, portable tool called 7-Zip Theme Manager that fixes this right up in minutes. Head to the program’s download page and download both the 2.1 and 2.1.1 applications. Extract the 2.1 archive to a folder on your system (it’s portable, so there’s no installation necessary), then extract the 7zTM.exe from the 2.1.1 “hotfix” archive into that same folder, replacing the 7zTM.ext that was already there. Then double-click that EXE to start it up.

If you’re on Windows 10, you may get a warning saying that 7-Zip Theme Manager isn’t supported in your version of Windows. Just click OK–I’ve been using it on Windows 10 and haven’t experienced any issues.

Next, it will attempt to detect where 7-Zip is installed on your system. If it’s correct, click Yes.

You’ll be greeted with the main window. In the upper left-hand corner, you can choose to browse icon themes for 7-Zip’s toolbar, or browse icon themes for 7-Zip’s file types in Windows Explorer. let’s start with Toolbar Themes.

Explore the list in the left sidebar. When you click on a theme, it’ll show you a preview on the right. Find one you like and click the “Activate Theme” button.

It’ll take a minute to apply your theme. When it’s done, you can open 7-Zip to see your much more attractive set of icons.

Next, select “Filetype Themes” in the upper left-hand corner. This is where you’ll change the stuff that really matters: the icons that show up in Windows Explorer.

Again, browse the left sidebar to view the different themes available. The “Vista Azure” theme is the most similar to Windows’ default ZIP icons, so that’s what I’ve chosen. (Note that some themes, including Vista Azure, don’t include every possible icon, some more obscure formats may still have the old icons. You’ll have to experiment.)

Click “Activate Theme” to apply it.

When you’re done, both 7-Zip and Windows Explorer should look much nicer. Enjoy!

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Whitson Gordon is How-To Geek's former Editor-in-Chief and was Lifehacker's Editor-in-Chief before that. He has written for The New York Times, Popular Science, Wired, iFixit, The Daily Beast, PCMag, Macworld, IGN, Medium's OneZero, The Inventory, and Engadget.
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