Changing drive icons in Windows Explorer

This content is 18 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

A few weeks back, John Howard blogged about changing the Windows Explorer drive icons for his multimedia cards. I decided to give it a go myself and it is pretty cool, although I still can’t find a memory stick icon that I like, so that’s been left at the default setting.

Drive icons

One point to be aware of (that I missed in John’s post) – the DriveIcons and DriveLabel registry items are subkeys (not values) – the actual registry settings that I used are:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\DriveIcons\E\DefaultLabel]@="SmartMedia Card"
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\DriveIcons\F\DefaultLabel]@="CompactFlash Card/MicroDrive"
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\DriveIcons\G\DefaultLabel]@="Secure Digital Card"
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\DriveIcons\H\DefaultLabel]@="Memory Stick"

Icons don’t have to be stored within a dynamic link library (DLL) – one MSFN forum post indicates that .ICO files can be used too.

Finally, my USB Flash Drive also has an icon. Because this could have a different drive letter depending on what other devices are connected, I didn’t use the registry approach. Instead, I saved an autorun.inf file in the root folder of the device, with the following contents:

label=USB Flash Drive (128MB)

Using this method the drive lable and icon change whichever computer I use the device in (provided that shell32.dll is available).

6 thoughts on “Changing drive icons in Windows Explorer

  1. hi! i read the commentary about “how to change the icon on a usb device” but i have a doubt, maybe its silly, but i really dont find it. Can u tell me where i can find the root folder in my usb pen drive. The problem is that qhen i try to save an autorun.inf in my pen drive, i recieve a message that if i want to overwrite an existing file with the same name, i push yes, the autorun.inf appear in my pen drive, but in a few second just disappear!!! and when i look for the file inside the pendrive its nowhere. Can u help. what i want its only to change the icon of my pendrive. thanks for ur help.


  2. Hi Dario,
    The root folder on your USB device is the one which opens when you double-click on the drive’s icon. No idea why your autorun.inf keeps disappearing though.


  3. Hi Dario,
    Are you perhaps making it a hidden file go to tools, folder options, view tab, show hidden files and folders if it shows up then right click on the file and go to properties and then uncheck hidden and there you go

  4. I have a problem with my Icon for my Western Digital Drive.
    The drive is there with the following idetails:-


    The Icon is also in the folder name “AUTOUN”

    But for some reason the Icon in the window explorer has a BLACK Background with Western Digital logo in Foreground.
    The correct icon only appears when click on it and when clicked applied somewhere else the “Black Background” re-appears.

    Can You Help to overcome this problem.

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