How to Change USB or External Hard Drive Icon

Is the default drive icon getting you bored? You change the default USB or external drive icon with a custom .ico file. Here’s how.

When you plug in a USB or external hard drive, it appears like any other drive in Windows due to its default icon. Often, it can be hard to differentiate between system drives and an external or USB drive. If you have multiple USB drives, it is a good idea to change the external drive icon to a custom icon.

Adding a custom icon to the USB drive not only gives it a personalized look but also makes it easy to find it among other drives and partitions.

In this quick guide, let me show you how to change the USB drive icon in Windows 11, 10, 8, and 7.

Before proceeding, make sure you have the custom icon in .ico format. If you don’t have one, use websites like IconArchive to download one. You can also convert existing JPG or PNG images to ICO format.

The steps below work the same in Windows 10 and 11.

Table of contents:

Change USB or external hard drive icon

To add a custom USB drive icon, all you have to do is copy the icon in .ico format to the drive and then use notepad to tell Windows to use the new icon instead of the default icon.

These are the steps you should follow to change the USB or external drive icon in Windows.

  1. Plug in the USB drive.
  2. Copy the .ico icon to the root of the USB drive.
  3. Rename the icon to “Drive.ico“.
  4. Right-click in the drive.
  5. Select “New > Text document“.
  6. Name the file as “autorun.inf“. It is important that you replace the .txt file extension with .inf.
  7. Right-click on the “autorun.inf” file and select “Open“.
  8. Copy and paste the below code in the file.
    [autorun]
    ICON=Drive.ico
  9. Press “Ctrl + S” to save the file.
  10. Close Notepad.
  11. With that, you changed the drive icon.

Steps with a bit more detail:

First, plug in the USB or external drive and open it. Next, copy the icon file to the root of the drive. i.e., don’t place the icon in a folder on the USB drive. Rename the icon file to “Drive.ico.”

Custom usb drive icon - copy icon to usb

After that, right-click in the USB drive and choose the “New > Text document” option.

Custom usb drive icon - create file

Change its default name to “autorun.inf.” It is important to replace the .txt extension with .inf.

Custom usb drive icon - rename file

Right-click on the “autorun.inf” file and choose “Open.”

Custom usb drive icon - select open

Paste the following code into Notepad and press the “Ctrl + S” shortcut to save the file. You can also choose “File > Save.”

[autorun]
ICON=Drive.ico
Custom usb drive icon - add code

That is it. With that, you changed the drive icon. Re-insert the drive to see the new icon in File Explorer.

Custom usb drive icon - usb drive icon changed

(Optional) Hide drive.ico and autorun.inf files

If you don’t do anything, both the Drive.ico and autorun.inf files can be distracting. You can hide them so that they don’t appear along with other files and folders on the USB drive. Here’s how to hide those files.

  1. Select both Drive.ico and autorun.inf files.
  2. Right-click on them
  3. Choose the “Properties” option.
  4. Go to the “General” tab.
  5. Select the “Read-only” and “Hidden” checkboxes.
  6. Click the “Apply” and “Ok” buttons to save changes.
Custom usb drive icon - select properties
Custom usb drive icon - hidden checkbox

That is it. Both files are now hidden. If you want to see them, go to the “View” tab and select the “Hidden files” checkbox.

Windows 11 users select “View > Show > Hidden items” option.

Restore the default USB drive icon

If you no longer want to use the custom icon, you can restore the default icon by simply deleting the Drive.ico and autorun.inf files. Here’s how.

  1. Plug in the USB drive and open it.
  2. Go to the “View” tab and select the “Hidden files” checkbox.
  3. Select both “Drive.ico” and “autorun.inf” files.
  4. Right-click on them and select the “Delete” option.
  5. Click “Yes” when prompted.
Custom usb drive icon - show hidden files
Custom usb drive icon - delete
Custom usb drive icon - warning yes
Custom usb drive icon - usb icon restored to default

That is it. After deleting the files, re-insert the USB drive and you will see the default drive icon instead of the custom icon.

To hide the hidden files, go to the “View” tab, and uncheck the “Hidden files” option.

Windows 11 users select “View > Show > Hidden items” option.

Custom usb drive icon - hide files

That is it. It is that simple to change the USB drive icon with a custom .ico file.

I hope this simple Windows how-to guide helped you.

If you are stuck or need some help, send an email, and I will try to help as much as possible.

If you like this article, check out how to turn on write protection for USB drives in Windows.

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