Identifying Files Graphically

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN


Is there a way to customize file icons in Windows Explorer to make them easier to identify?

 

When you upgrade to Vista, you’ll discover many graphically oriented features that not only will make them easier to find, but will give you visual information about what they contain. Although XP is quite limited, here are a few graphic tricks for icons:

Although you can’t convert the icons of Explorer’s Word or Excel files into actual graphics, you can force them to show some of their contents when in the Thumbnails mode. For example, you can make this generic Word icon:

look like this:

To do that, type a short identification word or phrase in very large type on the top of the first page of the document or the worksheet. Then click on File, Properties and place a check in the Save preview picture box (see screenshot).

The icons of desktop shortcuts are more flexible. You select a design from a small storehouse of Windows icons. For example, you can convert this generic Word icon:

to this:

Here’s how: After creating the shortcut, right-click on the icon and click on Properties and then on Change Icon.

That opens this Change Icon screen. Move the little slider at the bottom of the screen and select any icon and click on OK.

File folders (see screenshot) are the most flexible for incorporating custom icons.

To create your personal icon, open Explorer, right-click on the target folder, evoking this screen:

Then, click on the Customize tab and you’ll have the same choice from the Change Icon screen. Notice also that you can even customize it with a picture.

Have fun.

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