Friday, December 19, 2008

Quick Launch and custom icons

A computer trick I picked up today... from your friendly neighborhood wanna-be tech geek. PC only though so all you Mac weirdos can just go hug a tree or something. :)

Do you use your quick launch tool bar? It is located down next to your Start button and allows you one-click access to some of the programs you likely use frequently, as well as a handy Show Desktop button that minimizes all open windows to get you back to your desktop. Did you know you can create a shortcut to any program or even any file you access frequently? Talk about a time saver! All you need to do is right click on any program icon in your Start menu or any file icon and choose "Create Shortcut." Then, once that shortcut has been created you can drag it down to your Quick Launch toolbar and let it go.

Here is a picture of my quick launch:

Notice how I’ve got an icon for Microsoft Word and a few other programs down there? Really quick and easy access.

But wait! There’s more! Do you see the unfamiliar little buttons in my picture, the ones that don’t look like normal Windows icons? There is one that says Voc, another with a G and a third with an 09. In the past I’ve made shortcuts to files of a similar type, 2 Excel files for instance. It was pretty hard to remember which was which and I was always opening up the wrong one. Although there were loads of pages dedicated to turning on and off your Quick Launch toolbar I couldn't find any that tied that in with making your own little icons for different files. So, I did some quick searching and learning this morning and found out how to create my own custom icons. After doing some reading I was able to create an icon saying 09 for a shortcut to an Excel file with 2009 data in it (not to be confused with the one I used to have with 2008 data).

As I said, one issue was when I had two different quick launch icons that were the same. Another problem I’ve run into was sometimes you can create a shortcut to something but the icon Windows gives you doesn’t make any sense. I wanted to create a shortcut to a network drive we have at work (the G Drive) and the icon for it looked like this: . I had no clue what that icon was supposed to be. So, I made the one that says G and applied it to the shortcut and now I will be able to remember what the heck that button does!

So, how the heck did I do all this?

It is really pretty "simple," just follow these steps...
  1. Open a image editing program. I use Fireworks but Photoshop for you fancy people or even Microsoft Paint that comes with every PC in the world will work fine too.
  2. Create a new image that is 32x32 pixels. Make it look however you want but keep in mind that because it is so small you won't be able to do much with it.
  3. Save that image as a .jpg file to your My Documents, Desktop or somewhere else you will be able to find it.
  4. Go to
  5. Download their free InfranView software and install it.

    I am not verifying the safety of this program. Their download came from cnet's which I've found to be pretty respectable in the past but the choice is yours to trust them or not.

  6. Open the newly installed InfranView.
  7. Go to File >Open and locate the .jpg you saved in step 3.
  8. Go to File > Save As... and save it to the same easy to find location with the same name as your original (makes it easier to keep track of). Make sure that when you save your new file in InfranView you choose the .ico file type at the bottom of the dialog box:

  9. You are done with InfranView for the time being so close it out.
  10. Find the icon on your quick launch toolbar that you intend to manipulate. Right click on that icon and choose Properties.
  11. Click on the Change Icon button:

  12. Click on the Browse button and find the location where you saved your new .ico file.

  13. Select your new .ico file and select open, then OK, then OK one more time and your new icon should be attached to your shortcut. If it isn't, you screwed up so don't blame the instructions. :)

I hope this works for you, it's been a nice little tool for me.

Thanks to for pointing me in the right direction.

Happy Friday!!!!


Trillian42 said...

Nifty tool - may have to try that out! I'm a big fan of the Quick Launch, too - I've got 10 different icons in mine. I increased the height of my toolbar so that they are stacked 5 on 5, rather than stretched out across the whole thing. And I auto-hide it, so it's not visible most of the time.

Because I know you needed to know that. :)

Amanda said...

Hey now - we like our Macs around these parts, buddy.
But - I do have to have a PC at work, so thank you! ;)