Explorer Folder Icons in Taskbar


atinfo

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Explorer shows all folder icons as its default icon (explorer.png). If we open the Downloads folder, it doesn't appear as dl.png (on the Taskbar). But by Pin then Unpin, the original icon reveals!

ss.png
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Win 11 Enterprise
    Computer type
    Laptop
    CPU
    i7
    Hard Drives
    SSD
I have custom icons for all the folders I've pinned to the taskbar as well as custom icons for File Explorer, Control Panel, external hard drives and various others. Here's how.
For Folders:
1. On desktop right click-new-shortcut. Click browse and go to the folder you want and select it. In the location box IN FRONT of the selected folder path type explorer (Using my downloads folder as an example, I selected my username in the tree, then downloads, so in the location box it read explorer C:\Users\glass\Downloads)
2. Name your shortcut. OK
3. Once the icon is made right click on it, select properties, select change icon, browse to your preferred icon and select it, apply, OK. (I have a folder full of customized icons. You can choose one of the Windows default icons or one of your own. There are thousands available for free to download on the web)
4. Right click on your new shortcut and select pin to taskbar. Then delete your desktop shortcut if you want. Whatever icon you selected will be on the taskbar.
NOTE: Do not be alarmed if you review the properties of your shortcut and see something different because Windows interprets it as
C:\Windows\explorer.exe C:\Users\glass\Downloads

Custom taskbar icon for File Explorer
Unpin the existing File Explorer icon from the taskbar. Then do the exact same steps as above but in the folder path box type
C:\Windows\explorer.exe Name it File Explorer, change its icon, and then pin to taskbar

For Disks: explorer x: (Where x is your drive letter)

A few other handy shortcut paths
control panel C:\Windows\System32\control.exe
device manager devmgmt.msc
event viewer %windir%\system32\eventvwr.msc /s
registry editor %windir%\regedit.exe
elevated command prompt C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe (then right click-properties-advanced-check box that says run as administrator)
RUN %windir%\explorer.exe shell:::{2559a1f3-21d7-11d4-bdaf-00c04f60b9f0}
Settings explorer ms-settings:

Brink has put together a list of many other helpful GUID shortcuts. You can assign custom icons to them as well.
 

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    Windows 10 Pro 22H2 19045.3930
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    Dell Optiplex 9020
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    i7-4770
    Memory
    24 gb
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
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    256 gb Toshiba BG4 M.2 NVE SSB and 1 tb hdd
    PSU
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I know how to make a pin-able shortcut with a custom icon. The problem exactly is that!

1- Create a shortcut (manually, as steps you mentioned above).
2- Change its icon.
3- Pin it to Taskbar.
4- Open that folder from Taskbar. Explorer opens it in a new Window with its default icon.
5- Now Pin this opened Window (current opened Window, not the previously pinned shortcut).
6- Unpin the same pinned folder.
7- See! User custom icon appears.

ss.png

Why doesn't Windows open pinned folders (shortcut) with its custom icon! It opens them with the Explorer default icon.

I didn't have such behaviour in Win 10.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Win 11 Enterprise
    Computer type
    Laptop
    CPU
    i7
    Hard Drives
    SSD
Not on my Windows 10 machine. Here's a screenshot. For control panel (marked in red), I use the bug icon on my taskbar, but windows opens in the default icon for control panel. The same thing happens when I click on my custom icon for file explorer (Betty Boop marked in blue)
Windows 11 works exactly the same way.
 

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My Computers

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  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 22631.3447
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 7080
    CPU
    i9-10900 10 core 20 threads
    Motherboard
    DELL 0J37VM
    Memory
    32 gb
    Graphics Card(s)
    none-Intel UHD Graphics 630
    Sound Card
    Integrated Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    1tb Solidigm m.2 +256gb ssd+512 gb usb m.2 sata
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell Premium
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Internet Speed
    so slow I'm too embarrassed to tell
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro 22H2 19045.3930
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 9020
    CPU
    i7-4770
    Memory
    24 gb
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 gb Toshiba BG4 M.2 NVE SSB and 1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell factory
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
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    Logitech wired
    Internet Speed
    still not telling
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    Defender+MWB Premium
Can you change your taskbar to "Never combine" mode? I had it always enabled (in W10). I think the problem is I didn't work with the "Combine" mode before W11. I bet I had my custom icon, not the Explorer default one! I don't have access to it now (W10 installed on my sisters' systems).
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Win 11 Enterprise
    Computer type
    Laptop
    CPU
    i7
    Hard Drives
    SSD
On a similar Reddit thread, I'm trying to help someone who currently has Windows 11 Explorer taskbar icons that match the folder icons (e.g. down arrow icon for Downloads) and wants them to all be generic folder icons. I couldn't replicate the behavior, but I had the OP confirm that the issue does not occur with a new user account. Therefore, there must be one or more settings in that user's profile (and possibly one or more related settings in HKLM) that cause the observed behavior.

If anyone reading this knows what those settings are (i.e. provide a reg file), I would be very interested in seeing that.

Thanks!
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10/11
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer
I run release version with no third party apps. My taskbar icons are custom. When a window is opened the thumbnal in upper left corner is the windows icon, NOT my customized icon.
 

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My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 22631.3447
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 7080
    CPU
    i9-10900 10 core 20 threads
    Motherboard
    DELL 0J37VM
    Memory
    32 gb
    Graphics Card(s)
    none-Intel UHD Graphics 630
    Sound Card
    Integrated Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    1tb Solidigm m.2 +256gb ssd+512 gb usb m.2 sata
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell Premium
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Internet Speed
    so slow I'm too embarrassed to tell
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro 22H2 19045.3930
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 9020
    CPU
    i7-4770
    Memory
    24 gb
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 gb Toshiba BG4 M.2 NVE SSB and 1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell factory
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Internet Speed
    still not telling
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
I run release version with no third party apps. My taskbar icons are custom. When a window is opened the thumbnal in upper left corner is the windows icon, NOT my customized icon.
Does your Explorer taskbar icon (not the window icon) change as you navigate to Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Videos? That's what's being observed and that's what I'm trying to replicate.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10/11
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer
If from within explorer, I navigate to any of my personal folders in left pane, the taskbar icon DOES NOT change nor is any other icon shown on the taskbar. I also went directly to my users folder to open them. No change on taskbar. Only the customized This PC icon has the line under it indicating explorer is open.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 22631.3447
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 7080
    CPU
    i9-10900 10 core 20 threads
    Motherboard
    DELL 0J37VM
    Memory
    32 gb
    Graphics Card(s)
    none-Intel UHD Graphics 630
    Sound Card
    Integrated Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    1tb Solidigm m.2 +256gb ssd+512 gb usb m.2 sata
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell Premium
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Internet Speed
    so slow I'm too embarrassed to tell
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro 22H2 19045.3930
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 9020
    CPU
    i7-4770
    Memory
    24 gb
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 gb Toshiba BG4 M.2 NVE SSB and 1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell factory
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Internet Speed
    still not telling
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
If from within explorer, I navigate to any of my personal folders in left pane, the taskbar icon DOES NOT change nor is any other icon shown on the taskbar. I also went directly to my users folder to open them. No change on taskbar. Only the customized This PC icon has the line under it indicating explorer is open.
OK, so you were just confirming that you don't see the issue. That's cool. I don't see the issue either. I just want to replicate it, so I can find the root cause for someone else. Thanks.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10/11
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer
Explorer.exe is easy. Just right click the shortcut, rick click on explorer again and change that icon, then restart.


My Start:
1680173364129.png

How do you change the Mail and Phone icons? They seem to be tied to the app and dunno how you change that, can't even find the "exe".
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Win11
How do you change the Mail and Phone icons? They seem to be tied to the app and dunno how you change that, can't even find the "exe".
Those are UAWP and can be found in C:\Program Files\WindowsApps
Short of modifying the manifest.xml and the <uap:VisualElements> tag within that file, I don't see how else to do it.
This is not ideal as one would have to modify rights, at least temporarily. Any update would replace them.
For example, many icons are in
C:\Program Files\WindowsApps\microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_version_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe\images
Please do not go that route.

A better way is to create a shortcut with:
C:\Windows\explorer.exe shell:AppsFolder
Open the created shortcut, all your apps are displayed, create a shortcut of what you need and modify the icon as you wish.
 

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  • OS
    Win11 All /Debian/Arch
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    ASUSTeK COMPUTER INC. TUF Gaming FX705GM
    CPU
    2.20 gigahertz Intel i7-8750H Hyper-threaded 12 cores
    Motherboard
    ASUSTeK COMPUTER INC. FX705GM 1.0
    Memory
    24428 Megabytes
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel(R) UHD Graphics 630 / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060
    Sound Card
    Intel(R) Display Audio / Realtek(R) Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Integrated Monitor (17.3"vis)
    Screen Resolution
    FHD 1920X1080 16:9
    Hard Drives
    2 SSD SATA/NVM Express 1.3
    WDS500G2B0A-00SM50 500.1 GB
    WDCSDAPNUW-1002 256 GB
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    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    VMs of Windows 11 stable/Beta/Dev/Canary
    VM of XeroLinux- Arch based & Debian 12
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Insider Canary
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    ASUS X751BP
    CPU
    AMD Dual Core A6-9220
    Motherboard
    ASUS
    Memory
    8 GB
    Graphics card(s)
    AMD Radeon R5 M420
    Sound Card
    Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    17.3
    Screen Resolution
    1600X900 16:9
    Hard Drives
    1TB 5400RPM
Does your Explorer taskbar icon (not the window icon) change as you navigate to Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Videos? That's what's being observed and that's what I'm trying to replicate.
Mine change dynamically, whether navigating within Explorer or, opening folders in a new window...
I thought it was normal!

000354.png

of course, you don't always notice it when you have Taskbar Previews set to Never combine...

000356.png
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    ASUS ROG Strix
  • Operating System
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    ASUS VivoBook
Mine change dynamically, whether navigating within Explorer or, opening folders in a new window...
I thought it was normal!
But don't you use Explorerpatcher? None of my native Windows devices change icons if I have custom icons set either on the desktop or pinned to taskbar. Maybe the apps that alter the GUI makes a difference.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 22631.3447
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 7080
    CPU
    i9-10900 10 core 20 threads
    Motherboard
    DELL 0J37VM
    Memory
    32 gb
    Graphics Card(s)
    none-Intel UHD Graphics 630
    Sound Card
    Integrated Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    1tb Solidigm m.2 +256gb ssd+512 gb usb m.2 sata
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell Premium
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Internet Speed
    so slow I'm too embarrassed to tell
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro 22H2 19045.3930
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 9020
    CPU
    i7-4770
    Memory
    24 gb
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 gb Toshiba BG4 M.2 NVE SSB and 1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell factory
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Internet Speed
    still not telling
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
But don't you use Explorerpatcher? None of my native Windows devices change icons if I have custom icons set either on the desktop or pinned to taskbar. Maybe the apps that alter the GUI makes a difference.
Nope! I use StartAllBack, but it works the same whether I have SAB enabled or disabled
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    ASUS ROG Strix
  • Operating System
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    ASUS VivoBook
Nope! I use StartAllBack, but it works the same whether I have SAB enabled or disabled
But something is still modifying your taskbar because vanilla Windows 11 does not support uncombined taskbar icons. Normally uncombined is the only time you would see a different icon in the taskbar for Documents, Downloads, Pictures, etc., but some users have experienced a combined Explorer icon that changes to match the current folder. I can't figure out a way to recreate that.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10/11
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer
Word got around last fall that supposedly MS said they would at some point an update to bring back uncombined taskbar feature(true or not I do not know) Maybe it's being experimented with in one of the insider builds. Just a thought. (I'm always thinking, just rarely not very productive thoughts. ) ;-)
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 22631.3447
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 7080
    CPU
    i9-10900 10 core 20 threads
    Motherboard
    DELL 0J37VM
    Memory
    32 gb
    Graphics Card(s)
    none-Intel UHD Graphics 630
    Sound Card
    Integrated Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    1tb Solidigm m.2 +256gb ssd+512 gb usb m.2 sata
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell Premium
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Internet Speed
    so slow I'm too embarrassed to tell
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro 22H2 19045.3930
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 9020
    CPU
    i7-4770
    Memory
    24 gb
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 gb Toshiba BG4 M.2 NVE SSB and 1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell factory
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Internet Speed
    still not telling
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
I can't figure out a way to recreate that.
I can't explain it either, I just thought it always worked that way! 🤷‍♂️

With SAB disabled, combined Taskbar icons:

000365.gif
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    ASUS ROG Strix
  • Operating System
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    ASUS VivoBook
I can't explain it either, I just thought it always worked that way! 🤷‍♂️

With SAB disabled, combined Taskbar icons:

View attachment 56767
Yup, that's exactly what I'm trying to replicate. Do you still get the changing icons with a new local account?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10/11
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer
FYI, just for fun, I asked ChatGPT and Bing Chat this question:
On some Windows 11 computers, the Explorer icon in the Taskbar changes to match the icon of the current folder. That is, if you currently have the Downloads folder open, it will show the Downloads folder icon in the Taskbar. This not typical behavior. Typically, the Explore icon is always a folder icon in the Taskbar. Can you explain how to configure Windows 11 to exhibit the changing icon behavior I described?

ChatGPT provided a very good response:
I'm sorry, but I'm not aware of any built-in feature in Windows 11 that would cause the Explorer icon in the Taskbar to change dynamically based on the current folder being viewed.

The Explorer icon in the Taskbar usually remains a folder icon, regardless of the folder that is currently open. It's possible that some third-party software or customization is causing the icon to change dynamically on your computer.

If you would like to change the Explorer icon permanently, you can do so by creating a shortcut to the folder you want to use as the new icon, right-clicking on the shortcut, selecting "Properties," clicking on the "Change Icon" button, and then selecting the icon you want to use.

However, keep in mind that this will only change the icon for that specific shortcut, not for the Explorer icon in the Taskbar.

Bing Chat decided to answer a different question:
You can change the icon of a folder in Windows 11 by following these steps:
  1. Press the Windows key + E to launch the File Explorer.
  2. Right-click on the folder and open its Properties.
  3. Switch to the Customize tab and click on the Change Icon button.
  4. Select a new icon for the Folder and hit OK.
  5. Lastly, click on Apply to save changes.
To add File Explorer and Folders to Taskbar in Windows 11, you can follow these steps:
  1. Open File Explorer (Win + E) and you’ll see the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar
  2. Right-click on it and select Pin to taskbar.
I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10/11
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer
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