Many users add shortcuts for opening software and tools to the Windows 11 desktop. Shortcuts added will have default icons, but you don’t have to stick with them. You can instead design custom icons and add them to shortcuts on the desktop.
To set up custom Windows 11 desktop icons, you’ll need to have suitable design software installed. Paint 3D and Junior Icon Editor are two freeware software packages with which you can create icons. This is how you can set up desktop icons with Junior Icon Editor and Paint 3D.
How to Set Up Custom Desktop Icons With Paint 3D
Paint 3D is a more advanced Paint version with additional tools for adding 3D shapes and stickers. Windows 10 includes that app, but it doesn’t come pre-installed on Microsoft’s latest platform. Nevertheless, it’s easy to restore that app in Windows 11. You can create a desktop icon with Paint 3D in Windows 11 like this:
- Click Start and Microsoft Store on the menu.
- Type the keyword Paint 3D in the Search apps box.
- Select Paint 3D to view the MS Store page for that app.
- Click Get to install the design app.
- Then select Open on Paint 3D’s page.
- Click the New button.
- Select Canvas at the top of Paint 3D.
- Uncheck the Lock aspect ratio box.
- Input 32 in the Width and Height boxes.
- Turn on the Transparent canvas option.
- Click the Zoom (+) button to expand the small canvas.
- Then select the Brushes tab to access and utilize Paint 3D’s drawing tools with which to design your icon. You can also create your icon by adding shapes or stickers to the canvas from the 2D Shapes, 3D Shapes, and Stickers tabs.
- When you’ve finished designing your icon, click the Menu button.
- Select Paint 3D’s Save as option.
- Click the Image button.
- Select the PNG (Image) format on the Save as type menu.
- Press Save to bring up a directory selection window.
- Choose a folder to save the icon image
- Click Save to save the image.
An alternative option is to save your image as a BMP file in Paint 3D. You can select to add icon-sized images with the BMP format to desktop shortcuts. However, BMP image icons won’t have transparent backgrounds.
If you want your icon to have a transparent background, you’ll need to save the image as a PNG as instructed above. Then you can convert that PNG image to a transparent icon with the required ICO format. This is how you can convert your icon’s PNG file to ICO with Online-Convert.com’s conversion web app:
- Open the ICO Converter web app in browser software.
- Select the Choose File option.
- Next, select your icon’s PNG image file from the directory it’s saved in and click Open.
- Press the conversion tool’s green Start button.
- Click Download to save the icon file in your browser’s default download folder.
Now you can add your icon to a shortcut on Windows 11’s desktop. Right-click a shortcut you want to apply the new icon to and select Properties. Press Change Icon to bring up an icon selection window. Click Browse, select your custom icon and press Open to confirm. Select the OK > Apply options to add it.
How to Set Up Custom Desktop Icons With Junior Icon Editor
Junior Icon Editor is software designed specifically for creating custom icons. That software enables you to design and save icons with the ICO format, so you don’t need to convert images. However, it doesn’t include any options for adding 3D shapes and stickers to icon designs like those in Paint 3D. You can create custom icons for your desktop with Junior Icon Editor like this:
- Open the Junior Icon Editor website.
- Select the Download free icon editor option.
- To open the setup wizard, bring up your browser’s Downloads tab first. Chrome’s and Edge’s Downloads tabs share the same Ctrl + J hotkey.
- Click junior-icon editor.exe at the top of the Downloads tab.
- Select Next in the Installing Junior Icon Editor window.
- Click the setup wizard’s I agree option.
- Keep selecting Next to install Junior Icon Editor with default installation options.
- Click Finish with the Launch application now option selected.
- Select a size option in the New Icon window. The 32 x 32 radio button is a mid-size icon option to go for.
- Choose a color setting for the icon on the right side of the New Icon window.
- Click OK to open the canvas and design tools.
- Design your icon with the drawing tools on the left side of the Junior Icon Editor window. You can select colors from the palette on the right.
- To save a finished icon design, click the File option.
- Select Save as to bring up a window for saving files.
- Input a title in the File name box.
- Choose somewhere to save your icon.
- Click Save to finish.
- Now add your custom icon to a desktop shortcut.
Junior Icon Editor has relatively standard-fare design tools to set up icons with. You can select Pencil, Airbrush, and Paintbrush options in its toolkit. Click the small arrows on the Paintbrush and Airbrush buttons to select different brush styles and thickness levels for those tools.
This design software includes options for adding basic filled or empty rectangles and squares to icons. Plus you can select to add straight and curved lines and arcs. Paint 3D has 24 2D shape options along with 3D objects and models, which is somewhat better.
Junior Icon Editor’s grid feature, enabled by default, is a useful addition. Its grid consists of many small squares that help you design cleaner, symmetrical icons. Zooming in up close to the grid will give you greater design control over finer details.
You don’t necessarily have to start icons from scratch in Junior Icon Editor. Instead, you can import and edit existing software icons or those downloaded from the web by clicking File > Open. However, you’ll need to extract application icons with IconViewer first before you can import them. Alternatively, you can select to open image files and then save them in the ICO format.
Add More Stylish Custom Icons to Your Desktop
So, now you can liven up your Windows 11 desktop by replacing some dull default icons with more stylish custom-designed alternatives. There are many other apps with which you can design icons, but Paint 3D and Junior Icon Editor probably pack in enough editing tools to satisfy the majority of users. You can easily set up visually appealing shortcut icons in Windows 11 and 10 with both software packages.