As I’ve said before, Microsoft’s trend in the last couple of Windows versions has been to move the user off the desktop and toward the taskbar. Well, if you’re like me, you like all of your most frequently used apps to have distinguishable shortcuts. So, you customize them as best as you can visually. But isn’t it unfortunate that some shortcuts won’t let you change their icons? MS Office apps, for example, have the “change icon” button greyed out. Well, look no further for a solution to this problem!
Let’s say we want to create a “Downloads” folder on our taskbar for quick access. Just follow these steps…*
Go to your desktop.
Open up Notepad or text editor of your choice.
Save the blank Notepad file with a name, say, “Downloads.exe” on your desktop.
Drag the new file to the taskbar and pin it.
On your desktop, right click over the background and click “New” then “Shortcut.”
Click “Browse” and navigate to the folder with your Windows user name, select it, and then click to highlight “Downloads.” Click “Next.” Name it “Downloads” and click “Finish.”
You now have a shortcut on your desktop called “Downloads.”
Right click on this shortcut (not the .exe file you made) and select “Cut.”
Make sure all your files are viewable, not hidden (Control Panel, Folder Options, Show All Files). In Windows Explorer, go to this folder –> C:Users –> Your User Name Here –> AppData –> Roaming –> Microsoft –> Internet Explorer –> Quick Launch –> User Pinned –> TaskBar.
Right click in the taskbar folder and select “Paste.”
When Windows prompts you, select the top option, “Move and Replace.”
Right click on your new Downloads shortcut in the Taskbar folder and select “Properties” then click the “Change Icon” button.
Navigate to the Windows icon you want or browse for your own .ico file to display the shortcut as you want on the taskbar. Be sure to click “Apply” and “OK.”
You will probably need to logoff or restart Windows to see your new icon display as you want on the taskbar. Click on it and the Downloads folder should open. You can delete the Downloads.exe file on your desktop.
Of course, you can use this trick to create other shortcuts on your taskbar.
*This trick assumes you have an “intermediate” comfort level with Windows 7.