The Painless Extraction

Would that my dentist used IconDigger 2000. It really is a remarkably easy utility to use.

  1. Download IconDigger 2000 to a temporary folder.
  2. Remember the Utils folder I suggested a while back? Launch Windows Explorer, find it and open it. Create a sub-folder called Idigger. Unzip your IconDigger 2000 download into the new folder. Delete the zip file when you’re done.
  3. Double-click the executable to launch the program.
  4. Use the Explorer windows to find a file with some icons in it. Examples would be Shell32.dll, moricons.dll, url.dll and almost any program executable.
  5. Highlight the icon you like in the lower window and click the Copy button. Presto! You’ve copied that icon to the clipboard.
  6. Now launch one of the icon editors you’ve downloaded and paste the icon into the editing window and get to work.

This same basic process works regardless of which icon extracting utility you choose. Of course you can create your own icons from scratch, and consider yourself encouraged to do so, but there’s nothing wrong with personalizing your icons for your own use. They’re yours after all.

Simple But Impressive

The first thing to do is decide what you want to do. We all know you can fancy up the desktop and change the color of all sorts stuff. That’s easy. Let’s change something that you didn’t think you could change. How about we change the icons for your different partitions and hard drives. Have a look:

See the icons with letters? Those indicate the four partitions on one of my computers. Don’t worry about the other icons you see for now, we’ll concentrate on the partition and hard drive icons for you Windows 9x folks for the moment. You Windows 2000 folks can do this too and it’s easy, but the method is different so we’ll cover it separately.

Of course, in order to change icons for your partitions or drives in Windows Explorer, you need some icons. There are about sixteen quintrillion icon web sites out there giving away icon sets. If you like my little home made greenies, you’re welcome to use them. Download them to a temporary folder and unzip them to your C:\Windows\System\icons folder. But I’ll be the first to admit they’re pretty lame, so if you’d like to use some really beautiful icons, a couple of great places to start would be and Scrow’s icons. The images below give you some idea of what you’ll find at these sites.


You see that you can do alot better than my greenies. But whatever you do, once you have the icons you want, the process is very simple. In Windows 9x this is what you do:

  1. Open Notepad and create a new file in the root directory of the drive or partition whose icon you’d like to change. Name the new file Autorun.inf.
  2. Copy the following text by highlighting it with your cursor and then pressing Ctrl + C.

    [autorun] icon=C:\Windows\System\icons\YOUR_ICON.ico

  3. Paste the text you just copied into your new Autorun.inf file. Make the text file the active window and then press Ctrl + V. Press Enter once to place a line break after the text.
  4. You must edit the file by replacing YOUR_ICON.ico with the full name of the icon you’ve selected. Also, if your Windows installation is on a drive or partition other than C:\ replace it with the appropriate letter.
  5. Save the file, close Notepad and close out Windows Explorer. When you reboot you should see the icon you chose representing that drive in Windows Explorer.
  6. In order to undo the changes you made, simply delete the Autorun.inf files from the root directories of your partitions. If you’re unsure, just rename Autorun.inf to Autorun.OLD and leave the files where they are. That way you can effect the change again by simply renaming the file back to Autorun.inf.

See, there’s nothing to it. Unfortunately the Autorun.inf method doesn’t work in Windows 2000. However, the alternative is even easier. The screenshot of My Computer above was taken in Windows 2000 and I did it with E-icons 98. As mentioned above, E-icons is no longer freeware, and though I used the old freeware version to effect these changes, the new version should be even more capable and only costs $19.

In order to change the icon for an individual drive, launch E-icons and click the button on the tool bar with the gold disk icon (the tool tip says “Change Any Drive Icon”). In the Select drive dialog box, select the drive you wish to change in the drop-down menu, and then click OK. Now, in the Change Any Drive Icon dialog box, click the Browse… button and find the icon you’d like to use. Click OK twice and then reboot. That’s it.

A Little Fancy Desktop Stuff

So you have this really tasty picture that you use for your desktop. In fact, you like it so much that you are hesitant to place shortcuts on your desktop because they obscure the picture. That’s OK, I know what you mean. In fact, the color field surrounding the desktop icon title bothers me too whether I have a nice picture on the desktop or not. There are several utilities out there that will make your icon background field disappear, but none are as light and frugal with your resources as Transparent, a tiny freeware program that works marvelously. This is what it does (and yes, that’s a mug shot of my Dad, a long time ago — makes a great desktop shot):

Before After

Configuring Transparent is easy. Read the material at the author’s web site and the text file that comes with the program, but this is how I’ve used it and I’m quite pleased with it.

  1. Download Transparent to a temporary folder on your hard drive.
  2. Remember the Utils folder? Once again, launch Windows Explorer and go to that folder and open it. Create a sub-folder called Transparent. Unzip Transparent into this new folder. You can delete the zip file when you’re done.
  3. You will notice that you now have four executable files and one text file in your Transparent folder. I’ve found that the simplest way to use Transparent is to use the TransparentD version. This is the Desktop version. It sets the icon text color to match the desktop color. In order to use it, you must use wallpaper. If you have no wallpaper the icon text will become effectively invisible, so for now, minimize your Explorer window.
    • Choose a wallpaper in the normal manner. Right-click the desktop and choose Properties from the context menu. Click the Background tab, select a suitable desktop image from the list and click Apply.
    • Next you need to choose a desktop color. Click the Appearance tab and make sure that Desktop is showing in the Item: drop down menu. Then click the Color: fly-out menu button and select the color you’d like your icon text to be. Click Apply again, and then OK to close the Display Properties dialog box.
  4. Maximize your Explorer window again right-click TransparentD. Select Create Sortcut.
  5. Move your new shortcut to your StartUp folder. Usually this located at C:\WINDOWS\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp for Windows 9x or C:\Documents and Settings\Your_Username\Start Menu\Programs\Startup for Windows 2000. You can drag and drop the shortcut or use whatever method you are comfortable with to move the shortcut to the StartUp folder.
  6. The next time you reboot your desktop icon text should be the color you chose, and the icon background color will be transparent.
  7. If you decide you want to turn Transparent off, just go to Start/Programs/Startup and double click the shortcut, thus running Transparent a second time. It will beep to let you know it has been unloaded. Click once on the desktop and press the F5 key to refresh. Your normal icon background color will appear.


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