How to Change the Icon in a Windows Forms Desktop Application

For a professional application, small details matter. Make sure you consistently communicate your brand across your Windows app, including its icon.

If you are creating a new desktop application, you may be following your own branding and design. This might include a custom color palette, UI design, or the icon that displays when a user opens your app.

When using Windows Forms to create your app, Visual Studio adds a default icon in the top-left corner of your application’s window. You can change this to an icon of your choice by modifying the form’s properties.

How to Change the Application’s Icon

You can change the default icon by accessing the form’s properties and uploading a new icon image.

  1. Create a new Windows Forms application or open up an existing one.
  2. By default, the designer view should be open. If not, right-click on the Form in the Solution Explorer window and click on View Designer.
  3. The designer view acts as a canvas that you can use to add and modify UI elements. It also reflects what your application will look like at runtime. The current icon for your application shows in the top-left corner of the form. If you do not have an icon, Visual Studio will use a default icon.
  4. Highlight the form by selecting it, and navigate to the Properties pane. This is usually located in the lower right-hand corner of the Visual Studio window.
  5. Click on the three dots (…) next to the Icon field.
  6. In the new file explorer window pop-up, select your new icon. Upload a photo that uses an icon format such as an .ico file. If you are having trouble finding or creating icons, you can create a custom icon using Rainmeter.
  7. In the file explorer window, click on open to save the file. This will update the canvas with the new icon.

How to Run the Application and View Your Icon

You can view what your new icon looks like at runtime by launching the application.

  1. Click on the green play button at the top of the Visual Studio window.
  2. Wait for the application to compile. Once completed, the application window will launch showing the new icon in the top-left corner.

Creating Desktop Applications Using Windows Forms

If you are developing an application using Windows Forms, there is a chance you may want to change the icon to match your design.

You can change the icon in Visual Studio by opening the properties window for the form. You can then upload a new icon image to the icon field.

You may also want to add other UI elements or images to your app. If so, you can learn more about how to add graphics to a Windows Form application.

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