By default, Windows displays a standard program icon for each file type. If you want to change this, you can use a free utility called FileTypesMan to change the icon for each file type.
Files in Windows 10 are identified by their name and extension, as well as the icon they represent. The symbol is a visual identification tool. If you’ve configured a folder view to use small icons, you can visually identify which file is a text file, audio file, movie, etc. with icons. These icons are either generic or set to the default application for that type of file. If Notepad is the default text editor on your Windows desktop, the application icon will be used as the icon for all TXT files.
Change a file type icon in Windows
- Before proceeding, download the icon of your choice in ICO format. You can use the symbol library to download symbols in ICO format that are publicly available or royalty-free. In my case, I’ll download the icon from the text file.
- Since Windows doesn’t have built-in options for quickly changing the icon for a file type, we use free, portable software called FileTypesMan from NirSoft. Download it and extract the exe file to your desktop.
- After extracting the executable file, double-click it to open the software. After opening it will list all known file types on your system. Scroll down to find the destination file type. You can also use the search option. Just click on the small search icon in the top navigation bar.
- Enter the file extension and click the “Find Next” button. In my case, I’m looking for the “txt” file type.
- When you find the destination file type, right-click it and choose the “Change the selected file type” option.
- The above action opens the “Change file type” window. The first thing you need to do is copy the icon’s default path and save it somewhere. You can use it whenever you want to fall back on it. Then click the Browse button that appears next to the Default Icon box.
- Once you click the button, all available system icons will be displayed. If you like any of the icons in the list, select it. Otherwise, click the browse button to choose your own custom icon.
- Navigate to the folder where you saved the icon, select it, and click the Open button.
- The selected symbol is listed in the Edit Symbol window. Select it again and click the OK button.
- Click the OK button in the main window to save your changes.
- Once you’ve saved the changes, the file type icon will change immediately.
How to change the file type icon using Registry Editor
Let’s say you want to change the file type icon for TXT files, and here’s how to do it.
- Click Start, type regedit.exe and press ENTER.
- Navigate to the next branch:
- HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Window \ Current Version \ Explorer \ File Extracts.txt \ User selection
- Note the value data for Progid (e.g. txtfile) in the area of the right window. This is the programmatic identifier of the file extension selected by the user (via Standard or Open with dialog programs).
- If the UserChoice branch doesn’t exist, navigate to the next branch:
- Note the (standard) value data (e.g. txt file) in the area of the right window.
- Navigate to the following button (where txtfile is the Prog ID specified in step 2 or step 4 above).
- HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT \ txtfile \ DefaultIcon
- If the DefaultIcon key is not available by default, you will need to create it manually.
- Double click in the right pane (default) and name the path to your custom icon (.ico file or reference to an icon in an EXE / DLL file).
- Change the value data (default) and specify the path to a symbol file. If you are using a custom symbol file, make sure it is at least 128 x 128 in size. While this is not a rule, it is intended to make the icons look good when the folder view is set to large or very large icons.
- Quit the registry editor.
- Log out and back in or update the icons and see if the icons in the text files are now updated.
If you don’t see the changes right away, restart Windows File Explorer or restart Windows. If you do this too, you should see the changes.
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