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How To Resize Desktop Icons In Windows 7 or Vista

Do you find the icon size on Windows Vista desktop too big or too small? The effect of visual appearance on shortcuts and programs icons, is more stark when users adjust and change the monitor screen resolution or font size in DPI scaling, where the icons size becomes bigger and smaller to an uncomfortable level. Users can easily resize Vista desktop icons or change the size of icons on Vista desktop. There are four methods to resize the desktop icons, depending on your preference and also the ’size’ that you want to change the icons to. Let’s delve inside and see what they are.


Mouse Wheel Method

The first one in the list is the Mouse Wheel Method. As the option to select from only three available sizes wasn’t satisfying enough, I found this method to be highly expressive. To get started, make sure the desktop has the focus, just click anywhere on the desktop before starting this process. Press & hold Ctrl on the keyboard and scroll with the mouse wheel up or down to get the desired size.


Using ‘Color And Appearance’ Method

The above method was actually much better. You can have variety of sizes and one for sure will suit you, but what if you don’t have a mouse wheel? The closest I could find is to do this: Right click on an empty spot on your desktop and choose Personalize, now choose the first item on the list Windows Color and Appearance,  and then click the last link Open classic appearance properties for more color options.


You will get the Windows XP type dialog. Click on Advanced, Under Item choose Icon, Set the size to your liking. Range from 16-72, hit OK and again hit OK on the second dialog.


Registry Tweak Method

If you like to tweak around the registry (like I do), then that can be set under that key,

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics

Using the first method it will instantly update the icon size on your desktop and you will see the changes, while working through the registry I couldn’t get it to refresh without logging off first. I tried F5 on the desktop and choosing Refresh from the shortcut menu on the desktop, but it had no effect. Note that changing the icons with the registry key manually will also reflect on the Windows Vista dialog and vice-versa.

I am sure I haven’t missed any method to resize the icons, but if I have, do let me know about it.


  1. My mum made my dekstop icons so big they coudent fit on the skreen so checked difrent graphic options and after seening that they dont do shit desided to check online for a solution.Tnx this post the problem was solved in abolt 10 mins so tnx.In adition to this now you have learned me how to troll my frends wen i come to there house – I just tell them too go get me someting and wen there back there computer is fucked XD.Ib4 i just leave before they comeback so its eaven trollzier.Tnx dude that posted this shit.

  2. Thank you SOOOO much for this. I had accidentally resized my icons with Ctrl + scroll wheel and couldn’t figure out how to get them back to the right size.

  3. Thank you for the mousewheel tip! I did this by accident the other day and it was driving me crazy. This tip gave me the ability to size my icons back to the size I was used to.

  4. Thank you addictive tip, i had an issue that i had managed to change my icon size by accident and you helped me save the day!!! you’re alright, you know that?

  5. thank you sooooo much my icons were the same siz as my screen and I would have been screwed thank you so much

  6. Thanks. I probably used the mouse method without knowing it, and changed the icons to an unwanted size.

  7. Hello, I have a problem with my desktop. It’s like my whole desktop went smaller. The text, the icons, the gadgets, the taskbar, even my browser. It’s like my Desktop grew in size and made everything smaller. How do I change it back?

  8. Hello, I have a problem with my desktop. It’s like my whole desktop went smaller. The text, the icons, the gadgets, the taskbar, even my browser. It’s like my Desktop grew in size and made everything smaller. How do I change it back?

  9. Thank you…i was struggling since so long to resize the desktop icons!! this was really helpful..It was just so simple..I clicked on the screen n used ctrl n scrolled with the mouse! Lovely!!! Thanks a lot again! Cheers m/

  10. the CTRL and Mouse Wheel method was the simplest one! i read the second one after i tired out the first and found the mouth wheel much more simplistic 🙂 x

  11. Hey, It really works …….I changed my laptops icons’s size by clicking Ctrl and mouse wheel up and down>>>>>>>>>

  12. Fantastic. Just installed Windows on my Mac so I can run both and not knowing my way around, needed a little help making it look good. Will keep rolling through the rest of the site as the day progresses.

  13. Thanks for the tips. This fixed that faint white line problem that appeared on some of my desktop icons. As it turned out the desktop shortcuts were a size bigger than default, and since not all icons have a bigger version faint white borders appear.

  14. I left the keyboard and mouse on, came back and folders on desktop were huge… spent hours with other options under control panels and re-setting graphics card to no avail. Was going to call my brother, but thought  “I’ll look it up on the internet!” Found this page. Can’t believe I didn’t think of the mouse wheel thing, since it works in excel for the same thing. Thanks for helping me with what was a simple fix (kicking myself in the A@@).

  15. OMG, I had tried and tried to change the size of the icons and nothing.  Until I tried the mouse wheel method.  Got it done in less than 5 seconds.  Great method, dont bother doing it any other way, unless you dont have a mouse…

  16. Thank you!!!  Thank you!!!  Thank you!!!  For some reason the icons on my screen were huge and I tried everything to shrink them back down to the size I like them to no avail.

  17. wow genius! I know that pressing the ctrl worked on emails and files, but never thought it would work on desktop icons =)

  18. Thankyou soooo much for that, the large icons were really annoying me, been trying to figure this prob for ages.

  19. Thank you so much this was a help for me im new to Windows 7 im used to XP and Vista i wish & had some of Vistas stuff on it i liked the Areo moving backgrounds on Vista but thank you for giveing us the info on how to change the size of the desktop icons

  20. Thanks!
    What about Windows 7 in Personalize – can’t get the options. Then the ctrl and wheel works. and right click and view change size

  21. Most of the icons you add to your desktop will be shortcuts, but you can also save files or folders to the desktop. If you delete files or folders that are stored on your desktop, they are moved to the Recycle Bin, where you can permanently delete them. If you delete a shortcut, the shortcut is removed from your desktop, but the file, program, or location that the shortcut links to is not deleted

  22. Thanks very much for the desktop Icon resize method. Straight to the point and works flawlessly even on a laptop. Good Job

    • Like the author said, some people enjoy playing with the registry.

      Anyhow, let’s suppose that none of the options provided in the method you’ve given (small/medium/large) is suitable for someone; that 5-level depth menu method will let someone tweak their desktop to exactly the way they want it.

      If you’re going to act all smug and crap all over the author’s attempt at presenting all the methods known for re-sizing the desktop icons then the least you could do is bring something new to the table; instead, you merely present a method that was last mentioned on this blog over two months ago, and first mentioned over two years ago.

  23. Mate, the ctrl+mouse is brilliant….

    I almost was thinking I am a total idiot, just upgraded to 7 on one machine. one day I even will get my front and rear jack for the sound working at the same time… hehe

  24. On my PC the mouse wheel method doesn’t work. (Advent, Windows 7 Home)
    After a little experimenting I discovered how to do it.
    If yours is like mine, then you have to left click on the desktop, then hold down CTRL key and click and hold the right mouse button. Keeping both of these depressed, use the scroll wheel to resize.
    The right click – view method described by Tanvir Alam doesn’t work either, the only options it gives on my PC are normal and large.

  25. There is still a easy way you all missed. Just right click on blank area of a desktop. on the right click menu, at top, there is a option, “VIEW” >>>> LARG, Medium< Small, RTC…..
    The easy way.

    • Wow Tanvir Alam, thats got to be the fastest and easiest way yet! Thank you very much–

    • The right click on an a black bit of screen, then ‘view’ works easy!!! thanks for the post. my 3yr old got hold of my laptop and changed them to ‘massive !!’ I could not work out how to change them back!!

  26. Thanks! One day I accidentally shrunk my icons and wasn’t able to fix them, until I found this! Thank you so much for helping me!

  27. thanks, so easy i feel stupid. i couldnt find xp style settings, but i guess i messed up with scroll wheel and cntrl cos thats how i fixed it. too easy i dindt even think about doing it lol.

  28. The first method worked best – I had spent at lease 40 minutes trying to find a way to change the icon size. Thanx to a friend who gave me this method thru you.

    • I guess MS has changed things a bit or it is different on the home version. Here are the latest instructions:
      – Right click the desktop
      – Click Personalize
      – Click Window Color
      – Click Advanced Appearance Settings…
      – Continue as above with “Advanced Appearance” except it is now called “Window Color and Appearance”

  29. thanks alot, it really helped ! i’ve got windows 7 and the icons were just growing bigger and bigger every time i shut down my laptop, anyhow, thanx !!!!!

  30. if it’s not, then how did you get that boxes around the desktop icons in the first image when you take the mouse pointer over them?????????????
    pls replyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. THANKS A MILLION for saving my sanity. I have just got a new Sony Vaio touchscreen and wanted the desktop icons made smaller. Having looked almost everywhere for help you were my last resort ( should have been my first ). Silly me.

  32. XP
    Only experimenting, the scroll method doesn’t work on XP Pro. I even tried pressing holding scroll ‘button’ while scrolling it. No effect.
    Vista Home
    Vista icons at the lowest “16” are annoyingly oversize on 17″ display. In the past, I’d had the icons smaller, using a forgotten messy sequence of settings. But that wasn’t working in recent tries.
    This Ctrl+Scroll method worked. ‘wooooooOO’

    In both Vista and XP, Desksave backs up icon locations. I disable the automatic stuff in options.

  33. “having no text at all on my icons”
    Search for info on text color. iirc, when bgrd color reaches a middle level of light/dark, text color switches.
    However, you might be able to tile a 1pixel image as ‘wallpaper’. Use a color dropper to sample the text color (or just assume dark text is black and light text is white!), and create the 1pixel image in that color.
    The text will be there, but you won’t see it.

  34. Thanks for this post! One of my kids accidentally made my icons huge and I could not figure out how to get them back. It was driving me nuts 🙂

  35. Tried the beta of Chrome – DON’T DO IT. On my Win 7 the results were disastrous. Stopped Outlook from opening a Firefox site (no work-around), caused IE8 to disallow updates, required re-boot close all start-ups and only open IE before updates were available.
    Used Control Panel to remove Chrome and clean the other directories and things came back to normal.

    WOW what a terrible experience..

  36. Grateful for this post. I’ve had my Win 7 laptop for 8 months, and the smallest size of desktop icons was way too large for me, but I just thought I had to live with it. Today I have my old laptop open (w/much smaller icons on it), and decided to search on making icons smaller in Win 7… I had no idea it was so easy to change!! I’ve bookmarked your site. Thanks for this piece of simple brilliance!!!

  37. i am running windows 7 ultim when windows did an update i lost about 2 inches of display ,i now have a black borader around my desktop , i an running a ati 5800 hd vid card and an hd 21.5 inch monitor , i have tried everything i know how any one help me????

  38. •Right-click the desktop, point to View, and then click Large Icons, Medium Icons, or Classic Icons. (Classic icons are the smallest size.)

  39. that just saved hours. now how do you change the icon text color in win7 ultimate? option is greyed out in the desktop appearance settings…..

  40. I took your advise and started playing around with the sizes of different things – now everything is either too big or too small to a point where i can no longer access parts of my computer – nightmare. is there any way or restoring the original “default” size settings?? Need help.. quick!

  41. You are a life saver. I accidentally increase the size of my desktop icon by 4x and the mouse wheel solved the problem. The help icon was of no help what so ever. What else do you know that I should know????

    Thanks Again!

  42. Thanks for the tip. Mouse wheel worked great. Now if I can get my roommate to stop changing the settings on my comp. lol.

  43. This mouse wheel method is great! Why didn’t I accidentally find this out myself. I’m always so clumsy on the keyboard hitting the wrong key and such I could hardly have missed this error 😉

    Thanks a lot!

  44. Nice!! I am SO going to be messing with peoples computers…. LOL

    Such a simple little easter egg. Why aren’t things like this more well known….

  45. i love learning new and or lesser known tricks/functions like the mouse wheel resizing! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  46. Ya learn something new everyday, I had no idea it was so simple to enlarge icons using the mouse wheel. Perfect! I do have some icons that remain small (e.g. iTunes) but make a larger “blank space” around them…so those I’ll need to tweak…but for the most part it doesn’t get easier than this.

    Thank you for the tip!


  47. Your registry location is useful for changing the distance between icons and some other settings, but not the size of the icons. Same for the advanced settings. Another method is to Right click -> View -> select between Small, Medium, and Large

  48. I have a machine that does not have the middle mouse. Sometimes it works (when I don’t want it to) to use the thumb screen, as I call it to scroll like the mouse, but sometimes it doesn’t (when I want to change it back). Any suggestions?

  49. OMG!! i started to get frustrated on how to make the icons smaller as it would not no matter what i do or didn’t do until i found this solution.

    You just made my day and saved me a few gray hair!!

    Thanks a million!! 🙂

  50. re;Font size & DPI scaling
    Is there a similar ctrl/mouse method to correct DPI scaling? The DPI scaling on my Vista desktop – uncooperative as ever – is now so oversized that I cannot access “OK' or “Apply” at the hidden bottom of the page. For that matter, I cannot do anything on the desktop.
    I am using my trustworthy laptop with XP to send this cry for help.

  51. OK…that worked well…in WinXP that also resized the Icons in the taskbar if the desktop was hidden…however the hidden desktop Icons on the taskbar remain large in Windows 7

    any ideas???


  52. Amen, just got a new computer at work with Vista. The large icons have been bugging me since. Thanks for the tip.

  53. Wow, thanks a lot. I have been wondering since the release of vista. Come to this page, read a sentence, and walla! with one key and a scroll pad I have a choice in icon size, Thanks!

  54. I had this problem for few days and really tried many ways,but invain. Finally, your solution worked out. Many thanks.

    • LOL guessing you've figure this out by now.
      umm the whole article was about icon resizing in vista and or seven.

      “How To Re-size Desktop Icon In Windows 7 or Vista”

      Show your desktop and click on an empty part on your desktop.

      Press and Hold the Ctrl key on your keyboard.

      Without letting go of the Ctrl key, use your mouse (the middle button on the mouse) to scroll up or down to change the icon's size.

      If you're not using a mouse it's still the same method, hold the Ctrl key and scroll to change the size.

      “Mouse Wheel Method

      The option to select from only three available sizes wasn’t satisfying enough, so I found another method. Make sure the desktop has the focus, just click anywhere on the desktop before starting this process. Press & hold Ctrl on the keyboard, Scroll with the mouse wheel up or down to get the desired size.”

      lol just wondered if you've read the article.
      He also explains other methods of resizing your icons.

    • finally someone has said that, because that is not what should be put on an article about how to do it.

  55. Just back to report that I tried again and this time there was no crash and everything has remained stable since. Obviously the problem I had before was due to something else, not to the tip. Many thanks again.

  56. So simple and so brilliant. I spent an hour going around through various help topics peovided by windows 7 but no one proved to be of any help.
    Thank you indeed!

  57. I have the desktop icon size set to 16, which seems to be the lowest value available, but still find the icons too large. I was delighted when your Ctrl/Mouse wheel method instantly shrank the icons, but unfortunately Windows 7 then froze, giving me a blue screen text message (which unfortunately I didn't note down) and then rebooting into Safe mode.

    So it looks as though I have to live with the icons the size they are. Glad to hear it works for others, though.

  58. Thank you VERY much DAVE, I could not change my Icons on my own. Thank you for the work around!

    Just a moment…Just a moment…I am not longer malfuctioning. Unfortunately the crew is already gone now.


  59. Thank you VERY much DAVE, I could not change my Icons on my own. Thank you for the work around!

    Just a moment…Just a moment…I am not longer malfuctioning. Unfortunately the crew is already gone now.


  60. Brilliant. Thanks.

    er… but is there a way of having no text at all on my icons, since the icons achieve for me what they're meant to?

  61. Please publish registry settings. I love to mess around with the registry, but not blindfolded. Iconspacing is -705 on my Windows 7 system (why minus?), there is no IconSize key.

    Color and appearance settings only work in a very limited number of ugly themes.

    I tried the mouse wheel, but although I can scroll with scroll-button and ball on my Logitech Marble, it does nothing on desktop icon size.

  62. Scrolling mouse wheel method – brilliant, I've been scratching my head since installing windows 7

  63. Hi , your comments on changing the desktop icon really helps!!! On Windows 7 pre release, I tried doing the same but I could not able to get the interface to resize desktop icons. The second method of holding the CTRL key and moving the mouse roller up or down is really surprised me. Hey man you rock!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Prashant Lenka
    Project Manager

  64. Changing the Vista desktop icon size and spacing as been the most frustrating aspect of my professional carrier (50+ years)! The icon size changes to a different value (usually much smaller) during startup and has to be resized each time the computer is restarted. I have tried each one of these suggestions without resolution. I am fixin’ to implement the registry update recommended by http://www.jcxp.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=24160 but I don’t have much faith in this procedure either. It seems the icon specifications are in more then one location. I am testing Windows 7 and I will try these same procedures on the beta and post the results in a few days.

    • Hi Jerry,

      On desktop, I did a right click, selected 'view small icon'. However, after rebooting, the size went back to “medium”. My changes were not saved which is similar to your case. Were you able to fix it ?

    • If you have a laptop you are able to hold down Control and Shift while using the track pad's scroll bar to adjust icon size on your desk top. (Scroll Bar may look like silk screen or raised up and down or left and right arrows found on the tracking pad).

    • I have Lenovo T61 think pad, that has no track pad scroll bar. And I want to reduce icon size less than the default 100%, how do I do it? Can you pl.help?

    • Most laptops have the ability to enable or disable the scroll bar. Google it for your laptop, or try the following: Control Panel, Mouse, then click the tab that says device settings. under that you should be able to select your touch pad and click settings. Depending on your model there should be options to enable the scroll bar and other options.

    • My laptop didn’t come with it enabled either. Go to Control Panel – Mouse – and enable the bells and whistles you want for your touchpad. If you don’t find what you want, get the updated driver on the web – maybe your trackpad company added features later in an upload. Finally, if you have Synaptic touchpad, you can definitely do everything in this article from the touchpad.

      As a last resort, go to Personalize – Window Color (custom) – scroll down to Advanced appearance settings… – choose “icon” from drop down Item list – and use the size box next to it to choose and click apply to see the changes. When you find what you want, don’t forget to SAVE on the Windows7 personalize window to keep your settings.

      If you have a dark desktop and title bar fonts are hard to read, try changing “Active Window” font from this same drop down box to white or another lighter color while you’re in there.

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