Creating, Changing and Restoring Shortcut Icons on Windows 7

Windows has a set of icons that basically looks the same in all computers. Icons for the Computer, Network, Control Panel and Folders are set at the default settings by your system and no matter what type of computer you use, the icons for these items look the same. If you are tired of looking and clicking on icons that looks similar to that of your friend’s then you can do some tweaks on your computer so the icons on it looks unique.

Yes! You can actually customize your desktop icons and make your computer stand out above the rest. This tutorial will describe in detail how you can do this customization step and if in case you are not pleased with the changes and some icons look confusing to you then you can go ahead and restore everything to the default settings. Read on and learn how these steps are done.

Customizing the Icons for Default Desktop Items

Desktop items like Computer, Network, Recycle Bin and User Files all look the same in all computers unless the icons that represent them is customized or changed by you. Changing a desktop icon is something that is seldom done by Windows users but it’s a simple step that you can easily do. To change desktop icons, you need to access the “Desktop Icon Settings” Window which can be opened in different ways.

An easy way of doing this is by going to the desktop screen and right-clicking an empty space on it (Windows 7) or pressing and holding an empty space of the desktop (Windows 8) then clicking or tapping on the “Personalize” option from the options box that appears.

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On the next Window, click or tap on the “Change desktop icons” link.

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The “Desktop Icon Settings” then appears, from this Window, you can choose which icons you want to be displayed on your computer’s desktop. Just mark the checkbox of the icons that you want to be displayed and uncheck the ones that you want to hide. Once you’re done choosing the icons to show and which ones to hide, just click on the “OK” button at the bottom of the Window.

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Below this area where the checkboxes are located is a box that contains the default icons for each item on the desktop. To change the icon that represents an item like  “Computer”, just click on it and click on the “Change Icon…” button at the bottom of the box.

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You will then see a pop up Window that contains a selection of desktop icons which you can choose from. Just choose the icon that you want to assign to the desktop icon that you’ve chosen on the previous Window (Computer in this example) and click “OK”.

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If you want to use a different icon (not the ones found on your Windows system), probably something that you downloaded from the Internet then you can click on the “Browse…” button and navigate to the location of the icon that you want to assign to the desktop icon you’ve chosen. Once you find it, click on “Open” then “OK”.


You can download Windows icons from different websites all around the Internet space ans save them on your computer. Be sure to take note of the location where the downloaded icons are located so you won’t find it hard navigating to it after clicking the “Browse…” button. Downloaded files are located in your computer’s “Downloads” folder by default unless you changed it.

It is also recommended that you use icons with a 256×256 pixel size so it displays well when viewing from the large icons view. Smaller icons may also do but they will not look as great as those that are on the prescribed size.

As an example, the icons for “Computer” and “Recycle Bin (empty)” on the screenshot below is already changed.

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You should also remember that the icon for Control Panel is not allowed to be changed on Windows 7 and Windows 8 using the procedure described above so it is best to just leave it as it is. You will also see a checkbox that says “Allow themes to change desktop icons”. If this is checked, the icons will change according to the new themes that you install and apply to your desktop. If you don’t want themes to change your icons, just leave it unchecked and click on “OK”.

How to Restore Icons to their Default

If you are not comfortable of the changes that was done to the icons then  you can restore everything to their default. You can do this by accessing the “Desktop Icon Settings” Window in the same way that you did it when you changed the icons for some default desktop items as described above.

On the “Default Icon Settings” Window, just click on the “Restore Default”  button then click on “OK”.

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The “Restore Default…” button will not be clickable if you didn’t change any one of the icons for the default desktop items inside the box above it.

How to Create a Desktop Shortcut for a Start Menu Item

If you are using your computer for a lot of office tasks that needs accessing files saved in folders then you should also be able to learn how you can create a shortcut for a specific folder that contains some other subfolders in it. For this example, we will be creating a desktop shortcut for the “Microsoft Office” folder on the start menu so you can easily access some office applications which most of us use for document processing.

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To create a shortcut that looks like the one above, you need to go to the “All Programs” section of the Start Menu and look for the “Microsoft Office” folder

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Next, right-click on it while holding down the “Shift Key” then click on the “Copy as path” option.

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Now, you need to go to the desktop screen and right-click on any empty space in it then select “New” and click on “Shortcut” from the options box that appears.

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Click the textbox on the “Create Shortcut” Window that appears then press “CTRL + V” on your keyboard to paste the path you copied for “Microsoft Office” as described in the previous step but before pressing the “Next” button, be sure to type the word “explorer” at the beginning part of the path then press the “Space Key” once. After doing so, you can click on “Next”.

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You will then be asked to enter the name that you want to assign to the shortcut. Just type the name that you desire then click on “Finish”. After that, you should see the folder shortcut on your desktop screen.

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An easier way to do this is by going to the “Microsoft Office” folder in the “All Programs” section of the Start Menu and right-clicking on it (without holding down the Shift key). Once an options box appears, point your mouse to the “Send to” option then click the “Desktop (create shortcut)” option.

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After doing so, you should see a desktop shortcut for “Microsoft Office” that looks like the one below.

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That’s it! You’re now ready to share this tips to other people whom you know would benefit from it. If you know other methods of managing desktop icons and creating one for different files and system components please feel free to post it as comments for this article.