Looking for a quick way to take any photo in BMP, JPG or PNG format and turn it into a Windows icon in ICO format? There are plenty of custom icon sets that you can download for Windows, but if you really want to customize your computer, you can create a set of icons made up of the faces of your family, for example.
Creating custom icons from your own images is a fairly simple process, and most importantly, it requires you to reduce the photo to the right size. Windows icons are quite small, so the first thing you need to understand is that your amazing panoramic photo of the beach will look tiny when it becomes a 16 × 16 or 32 × 32 pixel icon
However, you can play with this when you create the Windows icon. There are a couple of different ways to create your icon, the easiest using online tools. You can download a desktop program, but it’s not really necessary. I will also mention a program that you can use to create Mac icons, which unfortunately I have not found any tools online.
ConvertIcon is a free online tool to convert PNG, GIF and JPG formats to ICO files. It does a fantastic job and has the right features. I was also surprised that there were no ads or pop-ups or any other type of advertising, which you normally see with free services.
When you get to the site, click To start and you will instantly be asked to upload your photo. It doesn’t even load anything except a small window that looks like a dialog from OS X.
Go ahead and choose your image and it will show you a thumbnail preview. Before importing it, you will need to edit the image because the website has no editing or cropping options.
Also, you can only import one image at a time. Then click Export and you will have to choose the different sizes of the ICO file, including 16 × 16, 24 × 24, 32 × 32, 48 × 48, 64 × 64 and some more.
Once you’ve selected the sizes, just click Save As and you’re done. It will download a single ICO file with all the sizes you have chosen. You can then use this icon in Windows. For example, if you want to change a folder icon on your desktop to this new icon, right-click the folder and choose Properties. Click the button Customize and click the tab Change icon button.
Click on Browse and go to the folder where you saved the exported ICO file. Choose this and you’re done! You can now even resize icons in Windows, and if you chose all sizes when exporting (which I would suggest), the icon size will also change automatically. Here is an example of my desktop.
RW-Designer.com is another site that turns images into hassle-free icons. Its interface is slightly different from ConvertIcon, but otherwise, you can get the same. Click the Choose a file button, then choose one of the radio buttons. This site is trying to make it a little easier just by letting you choose which operating system you want the icons for. However, if you want specific sizes, just write them to the file Custom sizes Box. You can also choose to create a Fav icon or a toolbar icon, which can be useful if you have a website.
Finally, if you want to create icons for OS X, you can download a free program called IMG3icns. Simply drag and drop the image to the program interface and select the output you want to export as icons. They also have a professional version for a weird $ 3.90 price tag, which allows you to export favor icons and iPhone icons and also save a history of all the icons you export.
As you can see, creating your own icons in Windows or OS X is very easy. If you have any questions about creating icons or if you can’t replace a default icon with a custom icon, let us know in the comments and we’ll try to help. Enjoy it!