How to Rename and Change "Unchangeable" Desktop Icons

Posted by Shashank Krishna Friday, January 9, 2009

sharethis: Interface hackers (myself included) are a details-oriented bunch. We want to
be able to control every part of the interface so that it reflects our
personality. That means being able to choose our own icons for desktop items
and system objects, give new names to system objects, and create our own
balloon tips—for example, adding a balloon tip to the Recycle Bin saying
"Take Out the Trash!"

But it's not as simple as you might think. Microsoft has a way of protecting
its own. For example, it won't let you change the text and balloon tips
associated with a variety of system objects, such as the Recycle Bin,
Outlook, Internet Explorer, My Computer, and My Network Places.

You can normally change both the name and the balloon text (text that appears
when you hover your mouse over the icon) of all the icons on your desktop,
but you can't change these. Normally, to change the name and balloon text of
an icon, you first right-click on the icon and choose Properties. To change
the name of the icon, you choose the General tab and, in the box at the top,
type in the name that you want to appear beneath the icon.

Then, to change the balloon text, you click on the Shortcut tab and in the
Comment box type in the text that you want to appear. When you're ready to
make the change, click OK. The icon name and balloon text should now be

But when you try to do this for system objects such as Outlook, Internet
Explorer, My Computer, and Network Neighborhood, it won't work. The proper
options don't appear when you right-click on them and choose Properties.
There are ways, however, to change them in any way that you want, so that you
can create your own personalized interface.

Desktop object

My Computer

Recycle Bin

Microsoft Outlook

Internet Explorer

The Internet

My Network Places


Dial-Up Networking

Armed with the proper CLSID, it's easy to change the name and balloon text of
system objects. First, use the above to find the CLSID for the object whose
name or balloon text you want to change. Then run the Registry Editor.and go
to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID, a key that lets you change characteristics of
system objects, and highlight the CLSID whose name or balloon text you want
to change. For example, for My Computer, highlight the subkey
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}. Keep in mind
that HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID has many CLSIDs listed under it, so it might
take you a while to find the proper subkey.

Once you find the right subkey, if you want to edit the name of the object,
open the Default value and type in the text that you want to appear
underneath the object. If you want to edit the balloon text for the object,
open the InfoTip value and type in the text that you want to appear as
balloon text. Once you're done, exit the Registry and reboot.

You may also be able to force the changes to take effect without rebooting.
After you exit the Registry, go to your Desktop and press F5 to refresh the
screen. The new names and balloon tips might now appear.
You can hack objects besides names and balloon with this method. You can also
change the desktop icons of system objects that appear to have unchangeable

First, using the above find the CLSID for the object whose icon you want to
change. Then run the Registry Editor, go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID, and look
for the CLSID subkey from the above for the object whose icon you want to
change. Open the subkey and then the DefaultIcon subkey under that. For
example, to change the icon for My Computer, open the subkey
Change the Default value to the path of the icon that you want displayed.
Exit the Registry. You may have to reboot in order for the new settings to
take effect.

Some people aren't able to change their icons using this method. Instead of
editing HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID, they have to edit
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\CLSIDand that does the trick.

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Shashank Krishna
Bangalore, up, India
nothin much to say.........doin in IIIT allahabad loves bloggingn hacking.... :) and loooves blogging
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