Short: Changing your built-in Library icons in Windows 8

On Saturday, my Windows 8 Secrets co-author Paul Thurrott wrote about a small but welcome change to Windows 8 – the ability to change your Custom Library icons. He wrote:

In Windows 8, finally, you can arbitrarily change the icon for custom libraries. Note, however, that this capability extends only to custom libraries, and not the built-in libraries (still Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos). And while that's a shame, power users will still appreciate being able to customize their custom libraries with a new icon. […]

I'm guessing there is a way to change the default library icons as well, even though this feature isn't available in the Desktop user interface. If you know of a way to accomplish this in the Windows 8 Developer Preview without using a third party application, please let me know.

Naturally, I accepted the challenge. A few minutes with Windows 8 and well… it wasn’t hard at all, to my nerdy disappointment. Simply click Start –> Run (or WinKey + R), type explorer %AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Libraries and click the OK button. This will open a new Explorer window showing us the raw Library metadata files (.library-ms). Drag the library into your favorite text editor (or simply Notepad) and locate the XML element <iconReference>. Edit the value within to meet your needs, save, and restart Explorer. (You can safely terminate Explorer in Windows 8 by holding the CTRL and SHIFT keys while right-clicking the Taskbar.)

You’re done!

I created two icon cheat sheets, if you need them -- one for imageres.dll and one for shell32.dll.