Changing Taskbar Icon for Applications on Windows 10

After installing both Visual Studio and Visual Studio Preview I ran into the issue that when I pinned both to the taskbar, I didn’t know which was which. If I hovered over the icon, the tooltip indicated that the one on the right is Visual Studio 2019 Preview but I wanted a quicker way to differentiate between them. Luckily Windows provides an easy way to change the icon that appears in the taskbar. In this post I’ll run through how to change the icon.

Start by right-clicking on the icon in the taskbar and then right-clicking on the name of the application. From the secondary context menu, click Properties.

Alternatively, if you hold Shift and right-click the icon on the taskbar, you get the standard Windows Explorer context menu, instead of the application jump list. Again, click Properties.

From the Properties dialog, go to the Shortcut tab and click the Change Icon button.

Select a new icon file by clicking Browse. Alternatively if the application has multiple icons associated with it (which Visual Studio does), you can simply select an icon from the list.

After clicking OK and then either Apply or OK to close the Properties dialog, you might be wondering why the icon hasn’t changed. In order for the icon to be updated you may need to restart the Windows Explorer process. Open Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc, or right-clicking the taskbar and selecting Task Manager. Right-click the Windows Explorer app (if it’s not in the list, simply start Windows Explorer from Start menu, or pressing Win+E) and select Restart.

The updated icon should now appear in the taskbar.

5 thoughts on “Changing Taskbar Icon for Applications on Windows 10”

  1. Many people like to design their desktop screens with wallpapers and customized icons according to their choices but some of them are still unaware about how it is done or how to do that.
    The information and the tips that you have shared with us will help us in doing that better without any problems. Thank you for sharing this with us through this article.

  2. It sadly doesn’t work for some apps built deep into windows like the mail app or the calculator. It actually seems totally impossible to change those as they are protected deep in the core of the OS, trust me I’ve tried. I almost bricked my computer trying before I gave up.

  3. I couldn’t get the icon to change this way for a program (yes, I restarted explorer). What I did try that worked for me was to create a shortcut to it on the desktop, change the shortcut’s icon, and then drag that to the taskbar.

    FTW, I tried this with Windows calculator too, but it doesn’t work; so Simon’s probably right that it’s impossible for Windows apps.


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