How to Change Icon Pictures

By Steve Gregory

Icon in Windows 8.1 are customizable. Use the operating system's Change Icon utility to change an icon.

The icons in Windows 8.1, such as the desktop icons, are not permanently set. Similar to other customizable areas of Windows, such as the Start Screen, the operating system’s icons can be personalized. Use the Change Icon utility to select a new icon from the list of Windows icons or browse to the location of an icon you want to use.

Change A Desktop Icon

Step 1

Right-click an empty area of your display's desktop and then select Personalize from the menu box to open the Personalization window.

Step 2

Click Change Desktop Icons on the window's left side to open the Desktop Icon Settings dialog box.

The Personalization window has the option to change your Windows theme.

Step 3

Select the icon that you want to change and then click the Change Icon button to open the Change Icon box.

Choose the desktop icons that you want to appear on the desktop through the Desktop Icons section.

Step 4

Choose the icon you want to use from the list of icons in the box and then click the OK button. If you have an icon saved in another location, click the Browse button and then browse to the icon.


  • There are many icon websites — such as, and — that offer free downloadable icons and icon sets, which can replace your Windows icons.

  • It is also possible to create your own icons using an appropriate image-editing program, such as the native Windows Paint program, Gimp or Photoshop. After creating your icon, save it in the ICO file format — for example, myiconfile.ico — which is the Windows file format for icons.


The standard sizes for a Windows program, shortcut or folder icon are: 16 by 16 pixels, 32 by 32 pixels, 48 by 48 pixels and 256 by 256 pixels. You must choose a Windows compatible standard icon size, such as 32 by 32 pixels, for it to display properly. Choose a size that is most appropriate for the location where you intend to use the size. For example, if you use the Extra Large Icons view in File Explorer, choose the 256 by 256 pixel size to display your icon in high resolution.

The Change Icon box automatically closes when you click OK.

Step 5

Click the Apply button and then click OK to change the icon.

The new icon is displayed on the window.


To restore a default icon, select the current icon on the Desktop Icon Settings window and then click the Restore Default button.

Change A Folder Icon

Step 1

Browse to the folder icon that you want to change and then right-click the item.

You can use Windows File Explorer to browse to the folder icon.

Step 2

Select Properties from the pop-up menu to open the Folder Properties dialog box.

Browse to the Properties dialog box.

Step 3

Click the Customize tab and then click Change Icon to open the Change Icon for Folder dialog box.

Click Choose File in the Folder Pictures section to select an image to display on the folder icon.

Step 4

Select the icon you want to display and click OK. Click the Browse button to browse to an icon in a different location.

Change the icon for a selected folder.

Step 5

Click Apply and then OK to set the new icon.

Changing a folder's default icon prevents you from seeing a preview of its contents.


To change a folder or program's shortcut icon, right-click the shortcut and select Properties from the menu to open the Shortcut Properties dialog window. Click the Shortcut tab and then click the Change Icon button. Select the new icon from the Change Icon dialog box and click OK. On the Shortcut Properties dialog window, click Apply and then OK to complete the process.