How to set a custom icon for your USB drive or external hard drive [Guide]

If you, like me, have not chosen to move all of your data to the cloud, instead opting for the ability to access data regardless of internet connection via one or more USB drives, you might be tired of the typical removable drive icon. This guide shows you way to customize how your drive will appear when viewed in the file explorer in Windows.


The following guide is written with Windows in mind; it should work on Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 but I tested it on Windows 7 only.

Take note this will work with any drive that connects to your computer via USB, including flash/thumb drives, external hard drives, etc.

How-To Assign a Custom Icon to Your USB Drive

  • Find an icon (.ico) file that you want to use for your drive. (I chose the blue vinyl from this icon pack, since the USB drive I am using for this guide is going to house my media.)
  • You must name the icon file “autorun.ico” (without the quotes), and place it at the root, or highest level folder (e.g. G:/), of the drive you want to set the icon for.
  • Open Notepad
  • In Notepad, insert the following:
  • Now save the file as “autorun.inf” (without the quotes) in the same root folder as where you placed autorun.ico. When saving, be sure to select ‘All Types’ from ‘Save file as’, before naming and saving the file in NotePad — see screenshot below.


  • Done!

Now all you need to do is unplug your device and plug it back in for the icon to take effect. If you followed all of the steps properly, you should see your new icon appear instead of the traditional removable drive one.


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  1. Joel

    I have done this to several drives – it’s great! All of them work on my company laptop (W7x64Pro), and my tech laptop (XPproSP2) but NONE of them will work on my personal laptop (W7x64HomePrem). But they all work on my son’s laptop (W7x64HomePrem), so I know it’s not the OS. How can I fix this so I can see the custom icons on my personal laptop??

  2. CJCotter

    Problem fixed. An icon editor that I use revealed that I was using “complex” icons that can be exported with different “pixel resolution” options. I used my icon editor to create icons with just one resolution (48×48 true color).

    Your instructions work fine for both. Thanks again.

  3. Eduardo

    I’m using IconsPedia and there is no error message when plugging the USB drive. By the way, when I open the Icon Pack there are instructions in the readme.txt as this: To install, rename the icon you want to AutoRate.icns and then right click on and select “Show Package Contents” and then go to:
    Drop the icon in there.
    I ignore this because it sounds a little rigmarole to me. I know I’m wrong saying this but the instructions don’t say anything about this step.
    I placed in the USB drive the root folder “autorun.ico” the icon renamed “autorun.ico” and the file “autorun.inf”.
    Maybe I’m missing something since I’m a self-taught computer geek. Thanks for your time.

  4. CJ Cotter


    Ever since my company computer crashed and I lost all of my business documents, I now keep them on a USB drive. Then I have a second USB drive for personal documents that I may need during the day. When I tried your method for both USB drives, my computer had trouble rendering the icon for the second USB. Is there a tweak I can use to overcome this?

  5. Zac Davis


    Thanks for showing this alternate method CJ, the issue I forsee with this method, is that it would only work on the one computer you are doing it on, since you are modifying the system’s registry. It is great if you only use that one computer, but the nature of USB drives is that they allow for easy use on multiple computers, making this method a little more beneficial in that regard.