Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Can't get special folder icons to stick

  1. #1


    Posts : 14
    Windows 8.1 Pro

    Can't get special folder icons to stick


    I have anew instance of Windows 8.1 on a surface pro 3 and I can't get the folder icons of my OneDrive folder and and of the folders in it to change and stay changed.

    First, I changed the special folders (documents, pictures, music, etc.) to point to my OneDrive folders (why it doesn't do this automatically is beyond me). TO do this, I opened up the special user folder (the one with the little dude in the icon in the navigation pane in Explorer). But, they all still have plain old vanilla folders. So, off to change the icons.

    Second, I navigated to my OneDrive folder (still in its default location) right clicked, went to the customization tab, hit "Change Icon...", navigated to "C:\Windows\System32\imageres.dll" and selected the icons that I wanted. I did this for every special folder. Easy, right?

    Not so much. If I then navigate directly to the OneDrive folder, everything looks all good; icons are intact. But, if I navigate to the special user folder (the one with the little dude) the icons are not there. Through some combination of closing down folders, restarting explorer, or even a system restart, the icons will show up. Throuh some combination of the same, the icons will quickly revert back to plain old vanilla.

    Now, I tried to just reset defaults on the new targets of the special folders (In the OneDrive) That doesn't seem to work for all of them, and it's not permanent for any of them.

    Any ideas as to what's going on?

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Posts : 151
    Win8 Pro


    It looks like the icons you are changing in the OneDrive folder are simply shortcuts. I'm not sure if this still applies to Windows 8, but I know that icons for special folders used to be dictated by the desktop.ini file within each folder. You will have to turn on 'show system files' and 'show hidden files' in the View menu to see it, but you can try opening each desktop.ini file in notepad, and look for the subsequent references to the icons pertaining to that particular folder.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Posts : 14
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    @lastof Thanks for the interesting theory. I tried it out and here's what I found.

    The items I was changing in OneDrive are indeed folders not shortcuts. I confirmed this b/c I navigated there through the C drive and not the special folders. So that's the first thing.

    The second pice you mentioned was about the desktop.ini files. And this is where the fun starts. Turns out that this is where all of the icon gold really is. So, there is a line in most desktop.ini folders that reads "IconResource=C:\Windows\System32\..." The rest of the line will typically point to either imageres.dll or shell32.dll folled by a comma and a number. The number correspond to the specific icon referenced in the respective .dll file.

    Unfortunately, when I change the icons the point and click way, everything changes in the desktop.ini file. When the system reverts them back, it doesn't update that line in the desktop.ini file. Which says to me that the folder is getting its icon marching orders from somewhere up on high.

    Any further thoughts??
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 151
    Win8 Pro


    Are you using the pro version of Windows 8? It could be a policy that got corrupted, or changed without your knowledge, which you could check with the group policy editor.

    I do have a utility called specialfoldersview, which is a small piece of freeware from Nirsoft, not sure if it will help, but you could give it a shot - it doesn't need to be installed, just download it and run it -

    SpecialFoldersView - Special Folders Viewer
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Posts : 14
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    Yup Windows pro 8.1. How would I know id a policy was corrupt?

    I ran your tool (thanks for that!) but I'm not sure what it's telling me or how to use it for this. Any Ideas?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Posts : 151
    Win8 Pro


    Try this:

    1. Windows Key + R
    2. Type gpedit.msc
    3. On the left side, underneath 'Computer Configuration', expand 'Administrative Templates', then go to 'Windows Components'
    4. Now click on 'File Explorer'
    5. Look for this policy:

    Allow the use of remote paths in file shortcut icons

    6. Double-click and choose 'Enabled'
    7. Restart your machine
    8. Check your icons, if they are not right, go through the process of resetting them to what you want

    Let me know how it goes.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Posts : 14
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    Well...we were SOOOOO close. I did what you suggested and it seemed to work. It survived the restart but didn't survive a restart of explorer. After i restarted explorer, everything reverted back. Then, without changing anything, I restarted the system and only the OneDrive folder made it back with the icon intact.

    I double checked the policy to make sure it stuck an it did.

    I also went back in to check the desktop.ini folders and any one that had an icon resource line was pointed to the right icon but not showing it.

    I'm stumped now. Why is this so hard?? I mean, it is just an icon right? I should be able to change an icon to whatever I want and it should stay that way until I change it. Ughh.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Posts : 151
    Win8 Pro


    Maybe the icon cache is corrupted. First turn on hidden and system files in the view menu, then go to:

    C:\Users\Username\AppData\Local

    and find iconcache.db. Delete it. Actually, to be safe, do a search for iconcache.db and make sure there are no stragglers or backups anywhere, delete all that you find. Restart the computer.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Posts : 14
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    That did it! Thanks so much lastof!!
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    Posts : 14
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    Scratch that. It survived a restart, explorer restart but did not survive sleep. I put it to sleep and they were gone when I woke it up. WTF is going on here?! Folder icons?! I mean, really?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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Can't get special folder icons to stick
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