Windows 9x/ME Customization Guide

Registry editing to change stubborn icons

N.B. Registry tweaks override all other icon settings. Remember to back up your registry before performing any of these changes, as some icons really just don’t look as good as you might think.

To change open & closed folder icons, as shown in the left hand pane of Windows Explorer, as well as the icon used for all hard drive partitions or floppy drive partitions, you need to open up the registry. Click on start, run and type in regedit. Now browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\explorer\shell icons. If you don’t have this branch you can create it by context clicking on the explorer branch and “create a new key”, giving it the name Shell Icons. It’s a good idea to put this tree in your favorites if you are using Windows Me. The shell icon branch by default will not have any values apart from Default – Value not set. To change the icon for the closed folder, create a new string value, named with a number. Here is a description of what each number controls:

3 Closed folder icon

4 Open folder icon

6 Global floppy disk partition icon (overrides autorun.inf)

8 Global hard disk partition icon (overrides autorun.inf)

Once you have renamed the new value to one of the numbers above, double click on it and type in the path to your icon (see above for details on how to get icons from icon libraries).

To apply the changes the icon cache needs to be reset. The simplest way to do this is to go into tweak ui & clickrepair icons”, but if you don’t have tweak ui installed you can go into display properties, appearance tab, change the size of icons (as described above) click apply, and change it back to what it was, and click apply again.

As an alternative to changing icons globally, you can change them individually, my favorite approach. To change hard drives’ individual icons click start, run, type in regedit and browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\DriveIcons\x\DefaultIcon, where x is the name of the partition whose icon you wish to change (i.e. c, d, etc.). If the tree for your partition is not present you can always create it. Remember to create a DefaultIcon sub-tree as well. In the DefaultIcon tree, double click on the default string value and enter in the details of the icon you want, e.g. C:\windows\progman.exe,21 or C:\newicon.ico.

More icon settings

To change individual folders’ icons, open up windows notepad and enter the following




You can enter the path to the icon file (*.ico) under IconFile. If you are using a library (as described above) you need to enter the number of the icon under IconIndex, so for instance if you wanted the Swiss army knife you would have




Desktop themes

NB Windows 95 without the plus! Pack does not have desktop themes.

The plus! pack for Windows 95 introduced a whole new way to customize windows. To open up the desktop themes control panel, go into control panel and open desktop themes. To apply a whole theme, select one from the list, make sure all the settings are checked, and click apply. The theme should apply itself in a couple of seconds. If you don’t have many (or any) themes installed, go into control panel and open add/remove programs. Move to the Windows Setup tab and click to check Desktop themes. If the checkbox was gray, not all themes were installed with windows.

If you still don’t have enough themes for your liking, numerous theme files (*.theme) can be downloaded from download sites such as C|Net. You should extract them to your \program files\plus!\Themes folder.

To save your current scheme (i.e. screen saver, cursors, sounds, wallpaper, appearance, icons), select current windows settings from the drop down list and click save as. Save the file as something appropriate in the aforementioned folder. N.B. If the wallpaper, sounds, icons etc are renamed or deleted, the theme will not change them when it is applied.

UI customization for the Explorer shell.

Windows’ default shell allows for some basic customization to the interface, e.g. moving icons around, etc. Here I will explain some of the basic things that can be done to the UI that aren’t always obvious. First of all, the taskbar can be dragged around the screen & made to snap on any side of any desktop. You can even move it across monitors. Be aware that if you put it at the top of your desktop, it can easily obstruct title bars.

The start menu too can be customized. To put a cascading control panel on the start menu, context click on the start button and click open. Create a new folder and name it Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}. A control panel cascading menu will now appear at the top of the start menu. An easy alternative, if you are using Windows Me, simply open up taskbar & start menu from start, settings & click to check the box to enable cascading control panel. The control panel under the settings part of the start menu will now become a cascading menu.

If you are a bit short of space on the first menu from the start menu, you can use smaller icons. To do this click start, settings, taskbar & start menu, & click to check Use small icons in the start menu.

If you want to hide (but not delete) specific folders on the start menu, desktop, or anywhere really, simply context click on the folder, select properties, and click to check hidden. If you’d rather do this via DOS the command is attrib foldername +h. To undo this the command is attrib foldername –h. If the folders don’t disappear, go into start, settings, Folder options, click on the view tab and under hidden files click to select do not show hidden files. Now click apply.

If you’d rather hide (but not disable) all the icons on the desktop, go into folder options as explained before, and click to select hide icons when desktop is viewed as Web page. Now click Apply. Make sure active desktop is enabled by context clicking on any clear space on the desktop, and clicking to enable View as web page from the active desktop menu. You should now have a clean, icon-less desktop.

To further tweak the Explorer shell go into folder options from start, settings. Custom, based on the settings I choose should be selected as the type of windows desktop. Click on settings. The options here should be fairly explanatory. You should select which ones you want according to your own personal preferences. For more details see our windows 9x/Me tweak guide.


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