How to Customize Your Windows 7 Taskbar Icons for Any App

Would you like to change out the icons on your taskbar with a beautiful set of icons that all go together?  Here’s how you can change out the random candy-colored icons for a stylish icon set of your choice.

As you use Windows 7 and keep more programs pinned to your taskbar, you may start noticing that your icons clash with each other.  From bright colored icons to more modern icons with text, seldom do your app icons truly go together.

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So, instead of dealing with clashing colors and designs, let’s create new taskbar icons.  You technically can change icons directly from the taskbar.  Simply right-click on the icon in the taskbar or click and drag up to open the jumplist, then right-click on the program icon near the bottom of the jumplist and select Properties to change the icon. Unfortunately, though, the taskbar icons did not update immediately when changed this way, and sometimes didn’t change even after rebooting.

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Instead, let’s create new, customized icons for our taskbar.  To do this easily, open the folder that contains all of your pinned icons by entering the following in the Explorer address bar:

%appdata%/Microsoft/Internet Explorer/Quick Launch/User Pinned/Taskbar

Select all of the icons, and copy them to a new folder.  We just used a new folder on the desktop for this, as you’ll only need to store them in the new location temporarily.

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Once you’ve got the icons in the new folder, right-click one and select Properties.

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Select the Shortcut tab if it doesn’t automatically open to it, and click Change Icon.

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Now click Browse to find the new icon you want.

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You can switch the icon to any icon from an .ico, .exe, or .dll file that contains icons, but if you’re using an icon set to get a harmonious look, then you’ll likely be using .ico files.  Once you’ve select the icon you want, click Ok in the previous dialogs to save your changes.

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Now, repeat this with all the icons in your folder.  This will take a few minutes, but when you’re done, you should have a harmonious set of icons for your taskbar.

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Unfortunately, some shortcuts are more tricky, and won’t let you change the icon.  When we tried to change the icons on any Office apps or certain other programs, the Change Icon button was dimmed and unusable.

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Instead, we’ll need to create a new shortcut to this program.  Right-click in the folder or on your desktop, and select New –> Shortcut.

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In the dialog, enter the path to the application you want, and click Next to finish the wizard.

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Now customize this new shortcut as before.

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If you want to add new icons that you didn’t already have pinned, a simple way to get the shortcut is to find the app in the Start Menu and select Send to –> Desktop.  Then change the icon to the one you want as before.

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Once you’ve got all your new icons, you’ll need to unpin your existing shortcuts from the taskbar.  Right-click or click and drag up on each icon to open its jumplist, and then select Unpin this program from taskbar.

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Now, drag your new icons to your taskbar, and line them up as you want.

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Moments later, you’ll have a nice, customized taskbar with icons that look great together!

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You can take your customization even farther and change out your Windows 7 Start orb to match your icons.  Here’s how to do it: Change the Windows 7 Start Orb the Easy Way.

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Additionally, you can group your taskbar icons using the trick we recently wrote about, and get all of your similar apps together so you’ll easily find them.  Now that’s a customized taskbar!

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This is a great way to make your PC truly personalized, and you might make it easier to use if you can find your apps easier.  It may take several minutes to get it looking just like you want, but if you like it, that’s all that matters!

If you’d like the exact desktop look we used here, here’s the icons and wallpapers:

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!