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Looking for quality icons? Batch Icon Extractor can help

26 October 2011, Mike Williams

If you’re looking to personalise your PC then customising its system and application icons can deliver great results.

Of course you have to find alternative icons, first, and so your first instinct might be to browse a few online libraries to see what’s available. But there is a more straightforward alternative: and that’s to explore the thousands of icons already present on your own system. It’s easier than you think.

To get started, download the free Batch Icon Extractor (a tiny 96KB) and copy the file to your desktop. And if you’ve a folder on the desktop called Icons, rename it, just temporarily (Batch Icon Extractor will be using that folder for its own purposes in a moment).

Next, open an Explorer window, and drag and drop the Windows folder onto the Batch Icon Extractor executable.

You’ll be asked if you want the program to extract icons from the \Windows subfolders, too – choose Yes.

And now, just leave the program to work, and it’ll scan every file in the \Windows folder and below, extracting whatever icons they contain and copying them to an Icons folder on the desktop. You may need to be patient, but that’s not because the program is slow, more that there’s usually so much work to do: on our test system this process finally uncovered more than 10,000 icons, now converted to an easily handled ICO format.

This isn’t quite as good as it sounds. Many of the icons were repeated, for instance. And others were nasty low-resolution 16×16 or 32×32 icons which you really wouldn’t want to use for anything at all.

There were also plenty of attractive high-resolution icons, though, relating both to Windows system files and our installed applications, some of which we’d never seen before. And of course you could take this further by dragging and dropping some other folder onto the BatchIconExtractor.exe – \Program files, say – which should reveal even more icons. And so if you ever need ICO files for any purpose (other than commercially, of course), then use Batch Icon Extractor to see what’s already available on your own PC before you look elsewhere: it could save you a lot of time and hassle.

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