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How do I get rid of custom icons?

Having too many custom icons on your computer can make it feel cluttered and disorganized. While custom icons allow you to personalize your device, they can sometimes cause more confusion than good. If you want to clean up your system and remove custom icons, there are a few simple steps you can take.

Why Would You Want to Remove Custom Icons?

Here are some of the main reasons you may want to get rid of custom icons on your computer:

  • Your desktop or folders look cluttered and messy.
  • You don’t recognize some of the custom icons anymore.
  • The custom icons aren’t matching your current aesthetic.
  • You want to “start fresh” and remove old customizations.
  • You are preparing to sell or give away your computer.
  • The custom icons are causing confusion or slowing you down.

If your desktop is filled with unfamiliar or unwanted icons, it can be frustrating and make it hard to find the files and programs you need. Clearing away the custom icons can instantly make your computer look cleaner and more organized.

Locate All Custom Icons on Your System

Before removing any custom icons, you’ll want to identify where they are located. Here are some places to check for custom icons:

  • Desktop – Check your desktop background for any custom shortcut or folder icons.
  • Finder/File Explorer – Open up your default file manager and look for custom icons in any folders or drives.
  • Applications/Programs Menu – Open your applications/programs menu and look for any icons that stand out.
  • Contextual Menu – Right click on your desktop or other areas and look for any custom options in the contextual menu.
  • Downloads Folder – Sometimes custom icon files end up in your downloads folder.
  • Documents/Pictures Folders – Look for any custom icons mixed in with your regular files and folders.

Take note of any custom icons you come across so you know exactly which ones to remove next.

Remove Desktop Shortcut Icons

One of the easiest places to remove custom icons is right on your desktop. Here’s how to clean up desktop shortcuts:

  1. Right click on any unwanted desktop shortcut icon.
  2. Select “Delete” or “Remove from Desktop.”
  3. Confirm that you want to delete the selected shortcut.
  4. Repeat this process for any other unwanted desktop shortcut icons.

This will immediately remove the icon from your desktop. It will not delete the actual file/program, just the shortcut. You can also simply drag unwanted shortcuts to the Recycle Bin to delete them.

Change Folder Icons

To change a custom folder icon back to the default:

  1. Locate the folder with the custom icon.
  2. Right click on the folder and select “Properties.”
  3. Click the “Customize” tab.
  4. Click “Change Icon.”
  5. Select the default icon image and click “OK.”

This will reset the folder icon back to the standard default. Repeat this for any other folders that have custom icons.

Reset File Type Icon Associations

If you have custom icon files associated with certain file types (like JPG, PNG, etc.), you can reset them back to default:

  1. Open File Explorer/Finder and click “View > Options > Change folder and search options.”
  2. Click the “View” tab.
  3. Under “Advanced settings” click “Restore defaults.”

This will reset all file type icon associations back to their original defaults. You can also customize associations individually if needed.

Find and Delete Custom Icon Files

To fully remove custom icons, you’ll need to delete the actual icon files from your system. Here’s how:

  1. Open your Search tool and search for common icon file types like “.ico” and “.icns.”
  2. This will display all icon files installed on your system.
  3. Browse through the results and delete any custom icon files you don’t want.
  4. You may need to dig into folders like “/Icons” to find hidden custom icons.
  5. Confirm deletion when prompted to permanently remove the icon files.

Be careful not to delete any default system icon files. Only remove icon files you know are custom. You may need to uninstall some applications to fully remove their custom icons.

Tips for Managing Custom Icons

Here are some additional tips for managing custom icons:

  • Back up your system first in case you accidentally delete something important.
  • Create a dedicated “Icons” folder to store custom icons for easy access.
  • Make your custom icons match your wallpaper for a cohesive look.
  • Only customize icons that you access frequently for optimal convenience.
  • Every few months, re-evaluate your custom icons to keep your system decluttered.
  • Give folders descriptive names so custom icons aren’t needed to tell them apart.


With a few simple steps, you can find and remove any unwanted custom icons on your computer. Stick to deleting desktop shortcuts, resetting folder icons, restoring file type associations, and deleting icon files. Be careful not to remove any default system icons. Keeping your computer’s icons organized and decluttered will make it easier to use and find important files.

Some key takeaways include:

  • Examine your desktop, folders, menus, and contextual menus for unwanted custom icons.
  • Right click desktop shortcuts and select “Delete” or drag to the Recycle Bin.
  • Use folder Properties > Customize to restore default folder icons.
  • Reset file type associations in Explorer/Finder Options to default.
  • Search for and carefully delete custom .ico and .icns icon files.

With a disciplined, thoughtful approach to managing icons, you can customize your system in a way that makes it more usable and visually appealing. Just be sure to prune your custom icons regularly to prevent buildup of clutter over time.