How to Create your own Custom Icons & .ICO Files

To Make your own Custom Icons: 

  • You can use a graphics program like GIMP or Photoshop to create your graphic PNG file
    • You can also import an existing Icon for editing, as such:
      • Extract the Icon from the DLL or EXE file first,as described here:
      • Then import it to your graphics program and edit it.. for Photoshop, you first need to add .ICO support:
        • Download the 32-bit or 64-bit file from this website:
        • Extract it, and place the ICO extension in the following location:
          • CS5 & Earlier: (Photoshop Install Drive):\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS5 (64 Bit)\Plug-ins\File Formats
          • CS6: (Photoshop Install Drive):\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS6 (64 Bit)\Required\Plug-Ins\File Formats
        • Restart Photoshop
      • Drag your .ICO file to stage, select the largest size & highest bit available, 32-bit 256×256 is best, otherwise, whatever the largest 32-bit image is
      • Be sure you’re working in 8-bit RGB mode
      • Edit away & Save it as an 8-bit PNG file (8 bit per channel, RGB+A = 4 Channels, so 8-bit x 4 channels = a 32-bit PNG)
    • Many Icon editors can open .ICO files directly & have basic editing tools.. I use the Free Greenfish Icon Editor Pro
    • Save it as a PNG file.
    • *One work-around if your Graphics editor doesnt support .ICO files, and your Icon Editor isnt powerful enough for what you want to do, is to:
      • Import the ICO file into Greenfish or other Icon editor
      • Click on the Largest 32-bit format (256×256 is best)
      • Save it as a 32-bit PNG file of the same size (256×256)
      • Import that PNG file into your Graphics Editor
      • Edit the File, Save it as PNG, and re-import it into your Icon Editor
  • Open the PNG in your favorite Icon editor – If you use the Free Greenfish Icon Editor Pro:
    • Drag the PNG Image to the stage
    • Go to Menu>Icon
    • Click “Create Windows Icon from Image”
    • Select only the following formats (which work best for Classic Explorer)
      • 32-bit 48
      • 32-bit 64
      • 32-bit 256
      • if you choose smaller ones, it may not end up looking as you want it to, since the program automatically resizes and substitutes pixels as it sees fit – and Classic Shell can use 48 or more no problem, it will just select the closest size
    • Click OK
    • Go to Menu>File>Save As…
    • Browse to a Location
    • In “file types”, select “Icon Files” to add the .ico extension & see the other .ico files in your folder
    • Give it a Relevant Name
    • Click Save


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