How to Use Desktop.ini to Customize Folder Icons

Are you tired of the usual icons used by Windows to designate your folders?  In Windows you can customize the icon for an individual folder with the procedures described in this post.

Open a plain-text editor, such as Notepad then type the following:


Note that the filename is the name of the file containing the icon, and number is the index of the icon to use; leave the IconIndex line out or specify 0 (zero) to use the first icon in the file, 1 for the second, and so on. Note the dot (.) in [.ShellClassInfo].  The example below uses the following lines to create the folder view below:







Save the file as desktop.ini and place it directly in the folder you wish to customize.

You can also add an infotip to the folder so that when they hover to the folder a tip pops-up:






InfoTip=Your tips

Here is a complete reference of all things you could do with desktop.ini:


Set this entry to 0 to avoid a “You Are Deleting a System Folder” warning when deleting or moving the folder.


Not supported under Windows Vista or later. Set this entry to 1 to prevent the folder from being shared.


If you want to specify a custom icon for the folder, set this entry to the icon’s file name. The .ico file extension is preferred, but it is also possible to specify .bmp files, or .exe and .dll files that contain icons. If you use a relative path, the icon is available to people who view the folder over the network. You must also set the IconIndex entry.


Set this entry to specify the index for a custom icon. If the file assigned to IconFile only contains a single icon, set IconIndex to 0.


Set this entry to an informational text string. It is displayed as an infotip when the cursor hovers over the folder. If the user clicks the folder, the information text is displayed in the folder’s information block, below the standard information.

Ben Carigtan shows you how it’s done.

Comments [4]

  1. >If you use a relative path, the icon is available to people who view
    > the folder over the network.

    Sorry, the custom icon is never used on desktop shares. Is there a reg-key to change this?

  2. Hello! I need to ask you for some help here.

    I have got a lot data retrieved from a harddisk recovery recently, then all my folders present in those given drives, have all their attributes files (desktop.ini) with them, but now they show up as ordinary, dead files without system attributes, and doesn´t give all my folders their icons they use to have, even though all the data is stored.
    How can make all these desktop.ini files (and others, mentioned further below) regain their system attributes and show the icons again while the .ini files go hide again.

    I also have a lot of thumbs.db and some AlbumArtSmall.jpg, AlbumArtSmall_{longdigit}.jpg-files (cover images for ripped CD albums).

    It'd just be such a tedious process and waste of time to manually re-make all those attributes from the start, when I do have all these files, I could hopefully use.

  3. @Thomas:

    The folder has to have either or both the read-only and system attribute set. cmd prompt>attrib +r +s name_of_folder

  4. Is there anyway to do this without setting the Attributes? I’m trying to set this on a samba file server on which I can’t use the Attrib commands.

    Also I’ll be modifying lots of folders to use the color scheme, will they end user get notified that it’s a system folder every time they rename or delete a folder?

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