How to Replace 7-Zip’s Ugly Icons with Better-Looking Ones

7-Zip is a fantastic Windows program for advanced file zipping, whether you’re password-protecting your archives or just trying to compress them down even smaller. There’s just one problem: its icons are ugly as sin.

Normally, I wouldn’t mind too much that an app is ugly–especially one as mundane as a file archiver. But it’s not just 7-Zip’s in-app icons. It also changes your Windows icons for ZIP, 7Z, TGZ, and other archive file types to these horrific, blurry, pre-Vista-looking icons that permeate my hard drive. (See the screenshot above.)

Thankfully, there’s a free, portable tool that fixes this right up in minutes. Download 7-Zip Theme Manager from its homepage, and extract it to a folder on your system. (It’s portable, so there’s no installation necessary.) Double-click its EXE to start it up.

If you’re on Windows 10, you may get a warning saying that 7-Zip Theme Manager isn’t supported in your version of Windows. Just click OK–I’ve been using it on Windows 10 and haven’t experienced any issues.

Next, it will attempt to detect where 7-Zip is installed on your system. If it’s correct, click Yes.

You’ll be greeted with the main window. In the upper left-hand corner, you can choose to browse icon themes for 7-Zip’s toolbar, or browse icon themes for 7-Zip’s file types in Windows Explorer.

NOTE: The most recent versions of 7-Zip will not change their toolbar icons with 7-Zip Theme Manager, unfortunately. (I used an older version for this guide.) However, you will still be able to change the Windows Explorer icons, which are the truly ugly ones.

Click “Filetype Themes” in the left sidebar and explore the list. When you click on a theme, it’ll show you a preview on the right. Find one you like. The “Vista Azure” theme is the most similar to Windows’ default ZIP icons, so that’s what I’ve chosen. (Note that some themes, including Vista Azure, don’t include every possible icon, some more obscure formats may still have the old icons. You’ll have to experiment.)

Click “Activate Theme” to apply your chosen theme.

It’ll take a minute to apply your theme. When it’s done, restart your computer and you should see your new Windows Explorer icons, all pretty.

If you’re using an older version of 7-Zip, you can repeat this process with the Toolbar Themes, and get something like I have in the screenshot below. But if you have a recent version, you’ll have to settle for just prettier Windows Explorer icons.

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