custom icon for your usb drive on windows

I saw this post on lifehacker about creating a custom external drive icon for Mac OS X and it reminded me that I was thinking about trying the same thing for my USB drive on Windows.

You see, on Windows it’s pretty easy to set this kind of thing up for a CD-ROM, so I figured the same thing would probably work for an USB hard drive or memory stick, or any other kind of external pluggable and writeable device.

Turns out it is. All you need to do is get yourself a nice icon to use, and create an ini file called autorun.inf in your USB drives root. The file’s content could for instance look like this:

[autorun]
label=My USB sticky
icon=myicon.ico

This will give your USB stick the label “My USB sticky” automatically, and display it in Windows explorer using the icon you created called myicon.ico.

There’s more stuff you can do with this autorun.inf file, automatically starting a webpage by adding a line like:

shellexecute=index.html

If there is an index.html in your root folder, this will automatically open it in the default browser installed on your system. Which should be Firefox of course.

“But how do I create a nifty personal icon like that” you ask? Well, there isn’t much magic to that either I’m afraid. With sweet and free piece of image viewing software like Irfanview you can take any picture, rescale it to iconic size (16×16, 32×32, 64×64, as long as it’s square) and save it as a .ico file. “Save As” is all there is to it really. It might take some playing around to actually come up with an icon that looks good in the smallest views, but it’s not that hard to do.

One more tip before I leave you to it. To get Windows to pick up these autorun settings on a USB device, you need to disconnect it after applying the changes, and then reconnect it. Windows doesn’t refresh the icon as long as the device is connected, which might give you the feeling it’s not working.

That’s all there is to it, so have fun creating your personal icons. If you create some nifty ones and happen to post some pics online showing them off, feel free to drop a comment in here linking to that image.

Leave a Reply