Microsoft Monday

Icons are all around us and play a big part in the user interface of an operating system because they help make your experience more convenient. Because of Icons, you’re easily able to identify the recycling bin, folders, and other elements.

The icons that come with Vista are definitely better than previous versions of Windows.  The person in charge of creating Vista icons (Robert Stein III) has a Flickr account set up with some of his work. There you’ll find some of the icons used in Vista, and some that didn’t make the cut.

Not everybody likes the manila folder icons that come standard with Windows Vista.  Fortunately, there are several different ways that you can go about changing these icons, or  you can also create icons of your own.

Changing your desktop/folder icons:

DesktopiconsThe quickest way to change your desktop icons is by using the option that Vista has built in. It can be done in a few simple steps.

  1. Right click on your desktop and select “personalize”
  2. In the left side of the window, you’ll see “change desktop icons” – click.
  3. From there you can change the icons for the desktop icons by selecting the one you want to change and then clicking “change icon.”

You can either select from the icons they have available, or you can browse to select an icon you may have downloaded from the Internet.

Changing any folders icon is also a simple process. All you have to do is right click on it and select “properties”.  Then click on “customize” and at the bottom of that window you’ll see the option to “Change Icon.”


Above are some of the icons that you’re able to select from.

Icon Sources on the Web

While Vista offers several different options, some of them are still pretty plain and boring. Another great source for icons is a website called They have different “packs” of icons that are available for free downloads.  Most of the packs contain 15 different icons, and also contain five different sizes of icons from 16×16 to 48×48.

Below are some of the examples of the different icon packs that you can get.




Create your own!

While there are plenty of “free” options for changing your icons, there are also options that will cost you money, but you’ll be able to create and edit your own icons and cursors versus downloading pre-made icons.

One such application is Microangelo Toolset 6 – “The Grand Daddy of Icon Software.” You can make icons for Windows 2000, Windows XP, and of course Windows Vista.

Cost: $49.94

Another option is called Axialis IconWorkshop 6.0 which allows you to do the same thing- create, edit, and convert icons of your own. One of the major differences is that it will work with Mac OS X as well.

Cost: Corporate – $69.95
Personal – $39.95

Freeware alternatives?
I know how much everybody loves freeware, what’s not to like about it? Has anybody come across some great freeware alternatives that will allow you to create your own icons? If so, please share in the comments below.