Set a custom icon for a USB drive on Windows 10

Give your removable USB drive an easily recognizable visual label in the form of a custom icon.

The thing about using different USB flash drives for different projects and files is that you might forget what’s on each drive. A quick way to know what a USB stick contains is to assign a custom icon to each one.

To better organize your drives, here’s how to map an icon to a USB drive in Windows.

But first, where do you find good icons?

There are a few websites that are dedicated libraries for computer icons. We discussed this in an article on how to find and customize each icon for Windows.

Most of these websites have icon images in PNG format and getting icons this way involves downloading image files and using another web service to convert them to ICO icon format. If this seems like a hassle, we’ve also dug up some nice Windows icon packs with icons ready to go.

Assign a USB drive a custom icon in Windows

This method involves creating an INF file on your USB drive. You must have set up your system to display file extensions on Windows.

  1. Connect the USB drive for which you want to set a custom icon.
  2. Navigate to the flash drive using File Explorer.
  3. Copy and paste here the icon file you want to use for the disk (the root of the disk).
  4. Create a new text document on the USB drive and rename it autorun.inf and remove the existing “.txt” extension. Make sure you see file extensions (View > File Name Extensions). Windows should show a prompt asking if you are sure you want to change the filename extension.
  5. Select Yes when prompted to change the file type to an INF file.
  6. Open the INF file and enter the following: [Autorun] Icon=icon-name.ico Replace “icon-name.ico” with the name of the icon you chose. Make sure there are no spaces in this name.
  7. Save and close the file.
  8. The next thing to do is hide these files so that they are not accidentally deleted. Select both, right click on the selection and select Properties.
  9. In the attributes section, select the Hidden option and click Okay.
  10. Test if this worked by safely removing and reconnecting the storage device. Your PC should recognize it and you should see the custom icon you set.
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If you want to restore the default Windows icon for this particular USB removable drive, just plug it in, enable the option to view hidden items and delete both the icon file and the INF file.

Build your own USB icons on Windows

Setting icons for special purposes is nice, but if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, you can take it a step further and create your own icons. Creating custom desktop icons involves using Windows Paint software and is easier than you might think.

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