How to Change the Default Library Icons to Icons of Your Own Creation


Libraries can be used in various ways to enhance Windows user experience. One such way is to create an upgraded Start Menu, as I wrote about it in my previous post. An important aspect of library customization is the changing of their default icons.

I renamed the default Videos library to Tools. And I also wanted to give it a custom icon that would fit the library’s new name. The default icon is a movie strip…

To change the icon of a library, do the following.

Locate the .library-ms File

Open up Notepad or Notepad++.

Launch Windows Explorer — press Win+E. And copy-paste the following address to its address bar:

Now locate the Tools.library-ms file and open it by dragging and dropping it on the Notepad or Notepad++ window.

Important Note

In case you didn’t rename the Videos library, the file you are looking for is called Videos.library-ms.

Edit the .library-ms File

On line number 7 of the file, the code says:


The IconReference property points to the file containing the icon image. The container can be a DLL or an EXE file.
It also specifies the position of the icon within the container file. If there is only one icon in the container, the value will be set to default which is 0.

The imageres.dll is an icon library located at C:\Windows\SysWOW64.

Unfortunately, none of the icons included in it are useful for a folder called Tools.

Create a Fitting Icon

So I browsed around for a few minutes and found two icon templates. A Windows 7 glossy icon template. And a wrench and hammer template. Both in Photoshop PSD format and both free for personal use.


Tools icon

I combined the two templates into a 256 × 256 pixels image with transparent background in Photoshop Elements.

And saved the image as tools-icon.png.

However, to display this image as my Tools library icon I needed to convert the PNG image into an icon and then add that icon into a DLL file which can hold icons.

Create an Icon DLL

To do all that, I downloaded GConvert which is an icon management tool and is free to use for 15 days.


GConvert Evaluation

Although I only used GConvert in trial mode, all its features were fully functional.

After the 15 days you need to buy the software or uninstall it. I only needed to use it once, so there was no need to buy it. And I uninstalled it immediately afterwards.

Create an Icon

The first step is to create an ICO format icon from the PNG image. To do this, click on the Create an icon link in GConvert’s window.


GConvert — Create an icon from an image file

I selected the 256 × 256 pixels dimension for the icon. Plus I selected Center in the Resizing box because otherwise the transparency of the image was getting partially lost.

GConvert — Icon resizing

GConvert — Icon resizing

Then I exported the image as an ICO file.

GConvert — Export icon file

GConvert — Export icon file

Convert Icon to Icon Library

The next step is to convert the ICO icon file to an ICL icon library file.

To do this, open the ICO file you just created via File > Open.

Then, go to Library > Convert Current File to Icon Library in GConvert’s menu.

GConvert — Convert Current File to Icon Library

GConvert — Convert Current File to Icon Library

Convert Icon Library to DLL

The third and final step is to convert the ICL icon library file to an icon DLL.

To do this, go to Library > Compile Library to a DLL file (32-bit)… in GConvert’s menu.

GConvert — Compile Library to a DLL file (32-bit)...

GConvert — Compile Library to a DLL file (32-bit)…

I saved the DLL as tools-icon.dll in the C:\Users\UserName\Pictures folder.

Replace iconReference

This way I created an icon DLL with a single icon in it.

All that remained was to replace the above-mentioned iconReference line in the Tools.library-ms file.

I returned to Notepad++ which had the Tools.library-ms file still open and edited line number 7 to read:

I saved the changes to the file.

Important Note

Obviously, whenever I write UserName in a path, you need to replace that with your real username on your computer.

The Result

The icon change took effect immediately in Windows Explorer.

But for the Start Menu icon to change I had to log off from Windows and log on again.


New Start Menu icon

The result looks good, doesn’t it?

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