Have you ever seen those weird desktop.ini files that seem to pop-up everywhere? The truth is that they do serve a purpose and Windows uses them to identify how a folder should be displayed, much like the .DS_Store files used in OS X.

When you create a new folder in Windows it is created with the standard folder icon, one common use of the desktop.ini file is to use to it set a custom icon for a folder, however this is not the only thing that it is used for. A typical desktop.ini will look like something like this:

InfoTip=Type Your InfoTip Here.

The desktop.ini file can contain alot of attributes but the following custom attributes are the most common:

  • ConfirmFileOp
  • IconFile
  • IconIndex
  • InfoTip

If set to 0, avoids the “You Are Deleting a System Folder” when deleting or moving a folder.

Specify a custom icon file. You can use either a .ico, .exe or .dll file.

Specify the index for a custom icon. If the file assigned to IconFile only contains a single icon, the IconIndex should be set to 0.

A string of text that will be displayed when you hover over the folder.

As you can see the desktop.ini file holds folder customization information. They are hidden by default and will only be displayed if you choose to Display Protected Operating System Files by unchecking the checkbox.

You can customize your folders by creating your own desktop.ini folder in Notepad. Make sure to change the type to Unicode before saving though.

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Taylor Gibb is a professional software developer with nearly a decade of experience. He served as Microsoft Regional Director in South Africa for two years and has received multiple Microsoft MVP (Most Valued Professional) awards. He currently works in R&D at Derivco International.
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