Removable Media Drive Icons in Windows XP

Many new systems today are coming with integrated digital media readers instead of floppy drives. I say that’s a good thing. However, these manufacturers have a penchant for slapping in crappy icons for those drives – if they even bother to include icons at all. There’s no way of telling which drive letter belongs to which type of removable media – CompactFlash, Memory Stick, SD, MMC, or SmartMedia. I lived with this problem until today. Ponzi’s new machine installed a craptacular array of icons for her removable media drives. I set out to figure out where they were coming from, and ran into some amount of difficulties at first. I didn’t know where the icons were sitting; they were likely buried in a DLL. Then, I noticed that the CompactFlash drive was labeled “CompactFlashI/II.” Awesome! Now I had something to search for in the system Registry.

Less than a minute later, I was staring down the barrel of HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SOFTWARE Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Explorer DriveIcons! Each drive letter has a separate key, mind you. Once I found this location, it was relatively easy for me to change. The drive letters and icon locations for your system will definitely be different, but you can base your tweak on mine. I’ve yet to find amazing removable drive icons, but Windows XP stores a couple of good ones within Shell32.dll in the %windir%system32 directory. If you’d rather not navigate on your own, I’ve zipped the REG file (and the icons I’m currently using from XP) in Again, you will need to view and edit the REG file to change the local paths and drive letters on your system. This should be completely safe, but I’m not responsible for anything you choose to do with this.

Removable Media Drive Icons in Windows XP

And for heaven’s sake – if you know of better removable media icons out there, let me know where to get ’em. I’ve gotta find a single theme for CompactFlash, Memory Stick, SD, MMC, and SmartMedia.

28 thoughts on “Removable Media Drive Icons in Windows XP”

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  3. Hi,

    To be honest, one of the best places to look for icons are at Linux sites. One can find a wealth of information there. Granted, some conversion may be needed to convert to the Microsft Icon Format, but it’s worth it.

    One of the most popular Icon Sets is from the Tango Project:
    There is a lot of information there and a lot of great icons. I suggest downloading that and browsing all the icons. The number of icons they have in the library grows constantly, so keep checking back.

    Also, another personal favorite of mine is the Gartoon Icon Set:
    There is another icon set there and it’s great as well.

    If you want a very basic and plain look, this icon set has an icon for just about anything you can think of:
    I believe there are some removable media types there, but it’s been awhile since I last looked at it.

    If you feel adventuraous, then try this site out:
    They have everything there and people submit their stuff there everyday, so I am sure there are icons there that you would like. :)

    Again, you may need to convert the file formats, but it should be worth it and I know I have seen free utilites to do that. I am more a Linux person than a Windows person. I think I will be sticking with XP Pro for a long while now since I read the specs of Vista. I need to upgrade my ram to run it and I really don’t want to. Plus, with XGL out now, the Linux Desktop is getting really nice, but I don’t need Eye Candy, I need fast, lean, and simply. Vista really is what turned me away from wanting to upgrade. :P I don’t think Microsoft will be able to convince me to update to it. With Icons like the ones I linked you, I have it all. :)

    I hope this helps. Let me know if you like them. ^^ Have fun.


  4. Hi, Saw Brad Kellett comment of the 27 May, I have the same problem, there are no entries for the DriveIcon in my Registy. But I edited the “Removable Drive Icons.reg” file, to correct for my folder location and the drive letter and then just merged it. And its working.

  5. If you want to use icon containing in shell32.dll (or any file), you don’t need to extract each icon as a seperate ico file. Just use “C:\WINDOWS\system32\shell32.dll,193” as a file path, where a number after comma is a position of icon within that file (start from 0).

    For example:
    CF icon: C:\WINDOWS\system32\shell32.dll,189
    SD/MMC icon: C:\WINDOWS\system32\shell32.dll,193
    SmartMedia icon: C:\WINDOWS\system32\shell32.dll,194
    (I can’t find MemoryStick icon in shell32.dll.)

  6. Is there a way to do the same thing in Windows Vista?

    There doesn’t seem to be a HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\DriveIcons registry key in Vista

  7. I’ve always just used an autorun.inf file and an icon file stored on the removable media. The autorun.inf points to the icon file and also allows for quick renaming of the media.

  8. To anyone looking for drive icons: You can find a lot of them at , but i haven’t been able to find MMC or any Memory Stick (MS) drives. However, there are icons for USB drives, SD cards, CompactFlash cards, CDs, DVDs, and there’s one user who even posted SmartMedia (though it’s hard to tell, that user is Dutch, because wechseldatenträger was the name of the USB drive) Right now, all I’m looking for is Memory Stick/MS or anything in that series (Pro, Duo, Pro Duo, etc.)

  9. Chris, I’ve tried several times to unzip but keep getting an “invalid archive” message. Any way to redo the file? (Don’t know if you can email them to me, but it would be appreciated.)

    I’m really looking for the removable icon with the three little wavy green lines over it (as it shows up in the leftmost pane of windows explorer). It would also help if anyone knows the file where that icon lives.


  10. Never mind about the custom icon I mentioned above…just found it on the sandisk flash drive itself. I think I’m getting the hang of how these things work.

  11. Chris, you are the man, no one could give me an easy answer for this.

    I modified the REGISTRY file and moved the icons folder inside Windows folder under a custom name and it worked.


  12. Im trying to figure out how to make my icons change to there hot colors when in use.Because i put a program on my computer a while back for icons and i didn’t like it so i uninstalled it but when i did that it messed my icons up.I was able to get them back by doing a system restore but my icons won’t change colors when i put an sd or usb in my slot it stays gray if anyone knows how to correct this help me out i would greatly appreciate it thanks.

  13. The only way I could get this to wrk in Windows 7 for my SD card reader was to stick the desired icon (named autorun.ico) and very basic autorun.inf file in the root of the sd card itself. hacking the registry had no effect though everything still seems to be in the same place the registry in Win7, just as Chris descirbes above…

  14. There is a simple way to assign an icon to any removable or internal drive (eg. C:/). Just make a file in the ROOT directory (C:/ etc.) called “autorun.inf” in notepad or wordpad.

    There are only two lines needed and you can copy and paste this into the “autorun.inf”.


    Put the “autorun.inf” and the desired icon in the root directory and reboot if on an internal drive or remove and replace if external device. Now you can put any icon on any drive.

    This file is what gives a CD/DVD program it’s individual icon and causes it to auto-start when you put it in the drive. Google it for more tricks with the autorun.

  15. Nice article, I just got a card reader and it changed the names which was helpful – but put crappy icons in. Now I’ve just got the helpful names – thanks!

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