How to Extract Application Icons EXE and System DLL Files in Windows 11 and 10

Does an EXE or DLL file use a nice icon that you want to use? Here’s how to extract it using IconViewer for Windows.


cover-image-software-icon

Some users may need to include software icon images on their websites or other design projects. However, Windows 11 does not include any built-in utility or option to extract software icons with ICO or PNG files.

Nevertheless, there are third-party software icon extractor utilities for Windows with which you get icons from programs. This is how you can extract icons from EXE software and DLL system files with IconViewer.

IconViewer may be an old icon extractor tool, but you can still use it in Windows 11/10. It is a freely available extension for File Explorer that allows you to extract icons through the properties windows of programs. You can download, install, then extract icons from software with IconViewer like this.

  1. Open the download page for IconViewer in your browser.
  2. Click it IconViewer 3.02 x64 edition Download link.
  3. Launch File Explorer to open the folder containing the downloaded IconViewer installation file.
  4. Double-click the IconViewer installer to open the setup window.
    IconViewer configuration window
  5. Select the quick setup option.
  6. Click it I accept the conditions checkbox and press the Following button to install.
  7. Now open a software folder in Explorer.
  8. Right-click the EXE file of the software you want to extract an icon from and select Properties.
    The Properties option
  9. Click it Icons tab displayed directly below.
    The Icons tab
  10. Select an icon to extract to.
  11. Choose a size and color option on the Device Pictures menu. The preview shows what the icon looks like for each option.
  12. press the Save as button.
  13. Select one Icon, Bitmapor PNG picture possibility on the Save as type drop-down menu.
    Save as type drop-down menu
  14. Enter a title for the file in the name box.
  15. Choose a folder in which to save the extracted icon.
  16. press the Save button to finish.
  17. Now open the folder where you saved the extracted icon. There you will find a new extracted file for the software icon with which you can do whatever you want.

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Note that you cannot extract desktop shortcut icons for software. You need to open the properties windows for the actual EXE software files in their folders as shown above. However, you can select a Open File Location in the properties windows of the software shortcuts to display their folders.

Windows 11 has a plethora of system icons. However, there is no system icon folder from which you can search and open their ICO files. Windows icon sets are embedded in DLL files in the System32 folder. Here are some of the system icon DLL files:

  • Internet, folder and device icons: C:Windowssystem32shell32.dll
  • Action, folder and device icons: C:Windowssystem32imageres.dll
  • Older icons for Windows hardware: C:WindowsSystem32compstui.dll
  • Windows 95 Icon Pack: C:WindowsSystem32pifmgr.dll
  • Sound icons: C:WindowsSystem32mmres.dll
  • Multimedia icons: C:WindowsSystem32wmploc.dll
  • Action and error symbol icons: C:WindowsSystem32comres.dll


You can select some of these icons by clicking on the Change icon button for desktop shortcuts. Clicking this button usually opens a selection of shell32.dll icons in the Change Icon window. However, this option is not very useful if you want to open files for these icons in the software.


Change icon window

You cannot open these DLL files, but you can extract the icons from them. IconViewer can extract icons from the DLL files specified above. You can extract icons from these DLL files in the same way as EXE software as follows.

  1. Display the Explorer file manager.
  2. Open the the Windows > System32 folder in explorer.
  3. Walk in shell32.dllor another DLL file name listed above, in the Explorer search box.
    The Shell32.dll file
  4. Right-click the DLL file to select the Properties option.
  5. Then select the Icons tab on the properties windows.
    The Icons tab of a DLL icon file
  6. Choose one of the many system icons available and select a size option for it.
  7. Click on Save as to save the icon as shown in steps 13-16 for the software icon extraction method.


Icon extraction is a breeze with the IconArchive tool. You can also extract icons with alternative utilities such as MiTec Icon Explorer and Thumbico, but IconArchive is a decent Explorer extension that does the job just fine. With this tool, you can get tons of icons in ICO or PNG formats for any design purpose you need.


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