How To Make Custom Icons Using Photoshop

The advent of Graphical User Interface (GUI) has revolutionized the world of technology and computing. GUI uses desktop icons as an interface between the user and the software or application program.

When you install the operating system, the standardized icons like that of a folder, recycle bin, My Documents, etc.(in case of Windows) get installed by default. But what if you don’t like these standard icons or you want to have them customized to match the background of your choice?

It is pretty easy to create your own custom icons in Photoshop by following the below mentioned steps.

Plug-in Required

The first thing you need to make your own icons in Photoshop is an ICO (Windows Icon) file format plug-in. You can download free plug-ins from,, or a host of other sites. You can download it for Windows or Mac as per your machine. Save the plug-in in ‘C:\Program Files/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5\Plug-Ins\File Formats’(Your version of Photoshop may be different from CS5).


Open Adobe Photoshop now. Go to File->New. A new window appears which prompts you for the size, color mode, background contents, etc. of the icon. We will go for 100 pixels by 100 pixels as the width and height of the icon. Choose RGB color mode and set Background Contents to Transparent.

Choosing the Icon

You can either use simple text or you can go for graphics. To make a simple text icon, select the text tool ‘T’ from the toolbar. Type the required text in the icon window.

To use an image, select File->Open, and open the image file of your choice. Copy the image using Control C and paste it on your original document. You can also just drag and drop the image to your document.

Resize the image using Control T while holding the shift key. Control T is the Free Transform option which allows you to adjust the size & rotate the image while shift key preserves the aspect ratio of the image so that it does not become disproportionate. Once you set the size and angle of the image to your liking, press enter.

The standard icon size is 32 by 32. If you want to change your icon size to standard or any other size, go to Image->Image Size. Choose the width and height pixels to 32 and 32 or any other ratio you want.

Saving the Icon

Go to File->Save. Save the document in the .ICO format. There you go; you have created your own custom icon in Photoshop.

Applying the Icon

To apply the icon to a folder or program of your choice, right click the original icon on Desktop. Go to Properties. Select the Customize tab. Click the Change Icon button. A new window appears which allows you to choose a different icon from a selected list or gives the Browse option to choose your own file. Click on Browse and then select the file you just created in Photoshop. Click Apply. Your new custom icon will be applied in place of the standard one.

Yasmeen Ali