Guide: How to Change Start Menu Icons in XP



This is for those using Classic Start Menu. For the ugly XP Start Menu style, see the post a few messages down.

Here's how to change the Start Menu icons (Run, Help and Support, Search, Settings, Favorites, Programs, etc...) in Windows XP. I don't know if this has been posted anywhere before. Oh well, here goes:

First, you will need Resource Hacker:

as well as ArtIcons Pro (because it supports 16 million color depth icons):

If all you have is an image file that you want to use:

1. it has to be 16x16, 32x32, or 48x48 in size
2. if yours is a different size, open it in ArtIcons Pro and it'll start out by letting choose what size to resize it to.
3. Save the image file as an icon (Just File > Save as)
4. Proceed to step 2 of next part

If you have an icon file in mind already:

1. Open the icon file in ArtIcons Pro
2. On the right hand size, you will see a column with at least 1 image and text next to it, e.g. "32x32 256"
3. Make note of the dimensions and color depths of each one.
You will need to make 1 of each of these:
48x48 32bpp
32x32 32bpp
16x16 32bpp
48x48 16M
32x32 16M
16x16 16M
48x48 256
32x32 256
16x16 256
48x48 16
32x32 16
16x16 16

That's a total of 12. Check which ones you will need. If you need 48x48's, and you already have a 48x48, right click that one, and go to duplicate. Repeat as many times as you need. It's the same thing for 32x32 and 16x16.

If all you have is 1 size, or just 1 icon on the right, then just right click it and duplicate as many times as you need (for a total of 12).

4. Then, right click each icon individually (except the ones that you already had in the file) and click Convert.

The Sizes you need to convert for are:

The Colors you need to convert for are:
16 colors
256 colors
True Color
True Color + Alpha

When all is said and done, make sure have 12 files, with one of each of the Sizes and Color Depths that I listed under step 3.

5. Now, save the icon file, and exit ArtIcons Pro

6. Go to your Windows\system32 directory

7. Make a backup copy if shell32.dll, and another copy called "shell32 edit.dll"

8. Run Resource Hacker, Open "shell32 edit.dll"

9. Click the + next to Icon Group

10. Now, you have to decide which Start menu Icon it is you want to replace. On the left you see a long list of numbered folders. The folders you want to pay attention to are:

#322 - Favorites
#323 - Search
#324 - Help and Support
#325 - Log Off...
#326 - Programs
#327 - Documents
#328 - Run...
#329 - Turn Off Computer...
#330 - Settings
#331 - Hibernate

Pick the folder you want, then click the icon group inside it (the only thing inside it).

11. Go to Action > Replace Icon...

12. Click Open file with a new icon. Choose your icon file. Then click Replace.

13. Save your shell32 edit.dll

14. Restart your computer in SafeMode (hit F8 a million times as it's starting up.

15. Go into explorer, and to Windows\system32

16. RENAME shell32.dll to "shell32 original.dll" and RENAME "shell32 edited.dll" to shell32.dll

17. Restart your computer.


If you use XP-style startmenu you can change some icons without hacking shell32.dll, for classic-style startmenu you have no other choice.


Items in the right section have icon setting in the registry at HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID. Clsid values there have an underlying "DefaultIcon" key, where you can set the path to your icon. Here's the values:
{1A9BA3A0-143A-11CF-8350-444553540000} - Favorites
{2559a1f0-21d7-11d4-bdaf-00c04f60b9f0} - Search
{2559a1f1-21d7-11d4-bdaf-00c04f60b9f0} - Help and Support
{2559a1f3-21d7-11d4-bdaf-00c04f60b9f0} - Run...
{7007ACC7-3202-11D1-AAD2-00805FC1270E} - Network Connections
{D20EA4E1-3957-11d2-A40B-0C5020524153} - Administrative Tools

And some are at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\CLSID:
{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D} - Control Panel
{2227A280-3AEA-1069-A2DE-08002B30309D} - Printers and Faxes



o_87: any chance you could add this guide to your original post in How to Hack the Start Menu, or in a post directly under it?


OSNN One Post Wonder
this solution about XP-style startmenu doesn't work or sth? i tried it today, set the path to the .ico file, rebooted my comp and i doesn't work. i don't know if i made sth wrong? maybe it should be .dll file? i don't know. any chance you could help me with it?


kind of an old thread so maybe they've stopped tracking it.

I haven't done all, but the 'Search' and 'Run' I switch fairly often

OK, so ya navigate to where they say above and when in 'Default Icon' (the folder), double click the one entry in the 'Name' column, which is '(Default)'.

A grey box appears titled 'Edit String', the highlighted value needs to be replaced with the path to the icon you want to use.

Important - after doing this the new icon can not be moved. For this reason I have a folder I created kept in System32.

So what I paste over the default value is

might wanna make note of the default value, in case of a boo-boo

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