Assigning a Picture to a Folder

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 21, 2019)

When you create a brand-new folder on your system, Windows makes that folder look like a real-world manila file folder. When you start putting things in that folder, Windows tries to figure out what those things are and may use images from those files as part of the file folder icon. For instance, if the folder contains pictures, one or more of the pictures may actually be used by Windows as part of the folder icon.

Beyond this, however, Windows allows you to override its selection and create what it calls folder pictures. These are assigned on a folder-by-folder basis. You can assign a picture to be used as part of the folder icon in the following manner:

  1. Open an Explorer window and display the folder in that window.
  2. Right-click on the folder and choose Properties from the resulting Context menu.
  3. Make sure the Customize tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Customize tab of the Properties dialog box for a folder.

  5. Click the Choose File button. Windows displays the Browse dialog box, which looks very much like a standard Open dialog box.
  6. Use the controls in the dialog box to locate and select the file you want used for the folder picture. (Pick a PNG file; they are easy for Windows to work with.)
  7. Click Open.
  8. Click OK to close the Properties dialog box.

Windows should update the image on the file folder immediately. If it doesn't, then press F5 once to refresh the folder display. The folder picture is only displayed in the Explorer window if you are viewing the window contents using medium, large, or extra-large icons.

If you later want to reset the folder's icon image to the Windows default, follow these steps:

  1. Open an Explorer window and display the folder in that window.
  2. Right-click on the folder and choose Properties from the resulting Context menu.
  3. Make sure the Customize tab is displayed.
  4. Click the Restore Default button.
  5. Click OK.

You should note that if the file folder you are trying to customize is actually a Library file folder, you won't see a Customize tab in the Properties dialog box. This illustrates that you cannot assign a picture to a Library file folder, only to regular file folders.

 This tip (7008) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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