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Windows Manual
copyright 1996, 2001 by Tracy Marks
Boston area Windows Training, Tutoring and Consulting

Customizing Your Desktop  continued

C. Changing Icons

If you are visually inclined, and wish to customize your icons to reflect
the programs or files they represent, you may wish to change your
shortcut icons. Windows provides several icon collections; larger
collections can easily be purchased.

Programs and files with extensions listed in the Windows registry
all use one unique icon representing that program; advanced users
can learn to change those icons, and create different icons for different
extensions. Otherwise, you may only change shortcut icons.

The desktop icons which come with Windows cannot be altered;
however, if you have purchased Microsoft Plus, you can change My
and Network Neighborhood.

If you are creatively inclined, you may want to modify and create icons in
a paint program. Many shareware icon creation/editing programs are
available for a nominal fee. One nifty icon creator and editor is Imagedit,
contained in the Microsoft Resource Kit for Windows, which you can
download from the Microsoft site at

1. Right click the icon, choose properties, then the shortcut tab. Then click
2. The dialog box will probably indicate your Windows System directory and
    the icon file called shell32.dll. the scroll arrows to view the icons.
3. If you are not satisfied with these choices, click BROWSE. Make sure that
    files of type indicates icon files (dll, .exe or .ico). Look in the Windows or
    Windows system folder for moricons.dll, pifmgr.dll or progman.exe.
    NOTE: Few other .dll files and .exe listed are likely to contain icons.
4. Click the icon you want, and choose ok (or double click the icon). In your
    original dialog box, click apply and then o.k. (The icon will change when
    you click your desktop.)

Since Microsoft provides few folder icons, try creating shortcuts for your
folders so that you can change their icons to ones that you prefer. To do so,
create a folder in your Windows directory, and place your shortcuts in it.
Then, right click on the folder and create a shortcut to it. Move your new
shortcut folder to your desktop.

1. Change the shortcut icon for Explorer by using an icon in shell32.dll.
2. Change the icon for Computer Maintenance by using an icon in an icon file
    listed in #3 above.
3. Change the Drive a icon; use an icon in the icons folder of your floppy disk.
4. Move your Games folder inside your Priority folder. Then right click on the
   Games folder, and create a shortcut to it. Rename it Games Folder.
5. Move your Games Folder shortcut to your desktop, and change its icon,
    using Pifmgr.dll.

If your desktop is covered with open windows and you want to access
a program or file that is not open, you may need a quick way to open it.
Rather than finding and clicking icons, use shortcut keys.

A SHORTCUT KEY or HOTKEY is a combination of three keystrokes,
usually beginning with control, alt, which opens a program. You decide
the final letter or number.

One very useful shortcut keys to create is for your printer. Windows
may take less than 10 seconds to transfer a document it is printing from
your word processing program to Windows and then to your printer -
at which point it is too late to cancel (your only alternative is to turn off
your printer.) To pause or cancel a printing job immediately after starting
it, you may want a SHORTCUT KEY to access your printer.

When creating a SHORTCUT KEY, try to choose a letter or number
that you will remember - like control, alt, a for drive a, control alt p
for printer, or control, alt e for Explorer.

Explorer Properties

Right click the original icon, shortcut icon or file and choose properties.
Choose the shortcut tab, and type the letter (or number) you wish to use
in the shortcut key box. Then click apply, and ok.

1. Create a shortcut key for drive a, then try it out. Then close drive a.
2. Create a shortcut key for Explorer and try it out. Then close Explorer.
3. Create a shortcut key for your Windowsnotes, and try it out. Then close
     your notes.

NEXT: Shortcuts on your Taskbar and Program Menu      continue


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