Winnipeg Photographer

How to make 256×256 Windows 7 Icons

This post will cover how to make stunning large 256×256 Icons that can be used by Windows 7 or Windows Vista. Unfortunately a lot of companies that make software are still not producing icons that are of the larger 256×256 icon format. I tend to blow up the icons I have especially on my desktop because I feel it looks better then the smaller 90’s style icons.

*NOTE* If you need any help with icons Winnipeg Web Design can help!

The program I use to create these icons is completely free. The thing that is even more astounding is the fact that this FREE program is better then most of the icon programs you have to pay money for! Here is the info on: The Best FREE Icon Creator called Greenfish Icon Editor Pro. (GFIE Pro)

GFIE Pro is a powerful icon, cursor, animation and icon library editor. Layer support with advanced selection handling makes it a really professional and unique freeware tool for designing small pixelgraphic images. GFIE offers high-quality filters like Bevel, Drop Shadow and Glow; supports editing animated cursors and managing icon libraries. It’s lightweight (< 1.8 MB unzipped) and requires no installation – just unpack it to your USB drive and use it anywhere. A clean, customizable, multilanguage user interface makes it really easy to learn and use.

For this example I am going to create an icon for Team Fortress 2. Steam is one of those companies that up until lately has not shipped large icons for their games. The only one that comes to mind is Left4Dead.

Things you will need.

  1. GFIE Pro
  2. Photoshop (or some other photo manipulation program) ** You don’t really need this but it makes things easier.

If you haven’t already downloaded GFIE Pro do so now. It is compressed in a ZIP file. I recommend extracting the program to your “C:\Program Files\” directory. You will most likely need to tell Window’s UAC to “continue” and allow the program to be copied to the folder location.

How to create a 256x256 Icon for Windows 7 (01)

If you extracted the program files correctly you should be able to find the software at: “C:\Program Files\Greenfish Icon Editor Pro 2.0”. Click on the program executable “gfie”.

When you open the program for the first time you will see a window pop up. Click on the first box. You want to “Create a new Graphic”.

How to create a 256x256 Icon for Windows 7 (02)

You will need to make sure on the next screen to select the size of the icon that you want to create. Again we want to make an icon that can go from regular size all the way up to the largest icon size 256×256 pixels. Click “OK” once you have made the correct selection.

How to create a 256x256 Icon for Windows 7 (03)

Now that you have the program open I recommend you open your favorite icon editor. For myself I use Photoshop CS4. A Free alternative to Photoshop is the Gimp. You can download it here.

Now that we have all the programs open and ready now we are going to go look for some box Art for the game. Doing a search in my favorite search engine I found the Box Art Picture for Team Fortress 2. Right click the picture and select copy.

How to create a 256x256 Icon for Windows 7 (04)

Click on your photo editing program to maximize it. Create a new work space and paste the picture into it.

Now that the picture is ready to work on, you are going to need to resize the picture. The reason why I recommend doing the resizing the picture in a true picture editor instead of the icon program is that you will notice the icon will turn out better. Resizing is NOT the icon program’s forte.

To resize the picture in Photoshop Click on “Image – Image Size”. You can also use the shortcut key combo “ALT + CTRL + I”.

How to create a 256x256 Icon for Windows 7 (05)

You will see the “Image Size” window popup. Because the picture I found was bigger vertically then width wise I decided to type “256” pixels  for the height. If the picture would have been bigger width wise I would do the exact opposite and make the width “256” pixels. Click “OK”.

How to create a 256x256 Icon for Windows 7 (06)

You now have a picture that is the perfect size for creating an icon, Good Work!

Highlight the whole picture that you just re-sized. To do this in most programs you can do this by hitting “Ctrl + A” (select all). Most program will show a dotted line around the whole picture. Now copy the picture by hitting “Ctrl + C” (copy).

Click on the open icon program. You must now paste the resized image into the “new icon project”. If you did it correctly you should see something similar to this:

How to create a 256x256 Icon for Windows 7 (07)

You will notice there is a bunch of room on the right hand side of the icon. I recommend that you move the picture to the right and try and center the picture to the best of your abilities like so:

How to create a 256x256 Icon for Windows 7 (08)

You are going to now save this project as an icon file. To do this go up to “File – Save as”.

How to create a 256x256 Icon for Windows 7 (09)

Make sure to give the icon a descriptive name. You must also select the type of file you want to save as. You should select .ico for an icon file.

How to create a 256x256 Icon for Windows 7 (10)

Now the only thing left to do is to right click the shortcut and hit properties. Click “Change Icon”

How to create a 256x256 Icon for Windows 7 (11)

Now select the icon file you just created.

Voila… you now have a very nice icon for your computer.

How to create a 256x256 Icon for Windows 7 (12)

Here’s a shot of it on my Windows 7 desktop:

How to create a 256x256 Icon for Windows 7 (13)

37 Responses

  1. […] […]

  2. [Software] [Grafica]Greenfish Icon Editor Pro on September 20th, 2009 at 7:17 am
  3. […] Creating large icons with Greenfish […]

  4. How Can I Open Up or Edit an ICO file or Icon Library? on September 22nd, 2009 at 3:01 am
  5. Thank you for this tutorial. As you do I appreciate Greenfish Icon Editor.
    Just to say, as greenfish has moved, your link to their site is now obsolete, but a redirection works at this time.

  6. Clement on March 4th, 2010 at 5:45 am
  7. Thanks! I’ve made the change to the link. It’s been a while since I have had to go to the website and download the program as the software is rock solid.

  8. Jared Heinrichs on March 4th, 2010 at 6:23 am
  9. Thanks alot. Greenfish is great. I am actually using the lightweight powerhouse Irfanview for my photo editing. It is great for resizing, as well as many other tasks.

    BTW, the ‘The Best Free Icon Creator’ link at the start of the page is broken. Thanks again.

  10. Dabeastro on May 23rd, 2010 at 2:47 pm
  11. thanks buddy its awesome
    thanks for software and tutorial

  12. Syed Shoaib Ali on July 21st, 2010 at 12:00 am
  13. Where did you get that desktop background? I like!

  14. Christian on July 22nd, 2010 at 11:42 am
  15. Although I normally use my own photographs I got this one at

  16. Jared Heinrichs on July 22nd, 2010 at 1:33 pm
  17. Hi, When I use the 256×256 icon i made, in vista’s large thumbnail display it still only shows a puny ~48×48 sized icon graphic.

    Any help?


  18. Darren on August 28th, 2010 at 6:53 pm
  19. Jared, do you have any pointers on the beveled edge tool in Greenfish. I am trying to make a corporate logo into an icon with some dimension and when I paste from PhotoShop to Greenfish and try to apply the bevel, it does not work. Any advice?

  20. Bridgett on September 30th, 2010 at 5:47 am
  21. I haven’t tried to do too much in Greenfish other than to make the actual icon. My workflow is to do most of the picture editing/creating in Photoshop and then once it is the way you like to put it into Greenfish and save it as a icon. Do you know how to make a bevel edge in photoshop?
    Hope that helps :)

  22. Jared Heinrichs on September 30th, 2010 at 6:45 am
  23. I allso have the same problem sa “Jarren”, eben if i created a picture in PS 256×256 and i made it 256×256 in Greenfish my icons only shows about 48×48. Advice appreciated.


  24. Svedis on October 1st, 2010 at 7:13 am
  25. Thanks Jared, even a noob like me should be able to use this now…
    Regards from downunder… 😉

  26. GDavidF on October 9th, 2010 at 7:18 pm
  27. Wonderful, I have been looking for this tutorial for so long and it is dead easy, thank you so much!

  28. Long on December 30th, 2010 at 8:55 am
  29. Has anyone had success using these programs with WindowsXP to make 256×256 icons?

  30. Welby on January 10th, 2011 at 6:44 am
  31. I don’t believe XP supported the larger icon format. It’s a Vista+ “feature”

  32. Jared Heinrichs on January 10th, 2011 at 8:10 am
  33. Figured out how to get Greenfish working on Vista if anyone else comes across this. Not sure if there’s an easy way to begin, but start with a 256×256 icon (either start a new file as above or open a previously made icon). Once you have the icon looking how you want it to, go to the menu: Icon>Create icon from image….

    Then when the next dialog box pulls up, make sure everything in the same row as ’32-bit’ is checked (not sure if it matters if the others ones are checked or if you just need to have a full row of any of them checked). Press ‘Ok’, then save your icon somewhere as normal, it should show up full size now. Apparently Windows needs either a full-range of icon sizes to display it big or there’s one size in particular that it works with. Hope this helps.

  34. Graeme on January 22nd, 2011 at 6:11 pm
  35. I love you man !!!!!!
    This was so easy and so helpfull !!!!!!!!!!!

    Thank you man, my music library looks so pretty now :-)

  36. Akis on January 29th, 2011 at 6:45 am
  37. It looks horrible if you start with a 256×256 and use “Create Icon From Image.” You will get a much cleaner icon if you export an image in every size you need from a vector graphic (made with a program like Illustrator or Inkscape).

  38. Alex Russell on January 29th, 2011 at 10:56 pm
  39. Thanks dude,
    Its very easy…..

  40. swapnil on February 7th, 2011 at 5:23 am
  41. Hmmm, I was using a website to convert my edited .PNG files (Photoshop) to .ICO files, but they’d have a tiny grid behind them, barely noticable. Converting with the Greenfish Icon Editor Pro solved this problem. Thank you so much. Blessings flow!

  42. Decepticon on April 12th, 2011 at 2:16 pm
  43. CHEERS for this excellent and easy tutorial :)

  44. blahstah on May 6th, 2011 at 8:14 pm
  45. Josh on July 2nd, 2011 at 7:49 pm
  46. A brilliant tutorial. To the point, incredibly simple and works a treat. Excellent stuff.

  47. All Mod Cons on August 4th, 2011 at 5:22 am
  48. A million Thanks Sir Jared! The tutorial is excellent for the newbee like me and the link for Greenfish Icon Editor, with just a small Apps, presto! i have a new look icon. Keep up the good work!

  49. Dhek Villa on August 13th, 2011 at 5:12 pm
  50. i can do it????? My icon still small. why?

  51. maria de palma on October 14th, 2011 at 12:08 pm
  52. i do all steps and i still cant see huge size, still little????? Please help.

  53. maria de palma on October 14th, 2011 at 12:09 pm
  54. You are awsome.

    it’s very easy.

  55. Iggy Nice on November 14th, 2011 at 2:19 am
  56. The link to the greenfish doesnt work

  57. Edwin on November 21st, 2011 at 7:35 pm
  58. Jared Heinrichs on November 21st, 2011 at 7:42 pm
  59. Thanks ! Worked perfectly!

  60. Cptgargamel on November 27th, 2011 at 12:17 pm
  61. You can change the size of the desktop icons to any size you want in windows 7 simply by holding down the CTRL button then using the middle mouse wheel.

    Rolling back makes the icons smaller(the minimum size is 16px x 16px [standard favicon size]), rolling forward makes the icons bigger (maximum size is 256px x 256px). With virtually any size in between.

  62. Eric Sawyer on December 17th, 2011 at 9:08 pm
  63. Yes I know. Unfortunately some older Icons are not made to scale perfectly up to 256×256. This How To helps people make an icon that can scale to 256×256 pixels while using the CTRL+Middle wheel trick. Thanks for reading.

  64. Jared Heinrichs on December 21st, 2011 at 9:20 am
  65. Hi Jared,

    Thanks for an informative post.

    For those who do not have photoshop or want smaller d/l sizes:

    Freeware Irfanview does the job of resizing images.


  66. Jake on January 26th, 2012 at 1:21 am
  67. Exactly what I was looking for. The interface is really easy to understand. Thanks a bunch!

  68. D00d on February 20th, 2012 at 3:20 pm
  69. Yah its realy awsm.i just read your ‘about’ great . God may bless you

  70. integrated design architects on September 24th, 2013 at 2:27 am
  71. Very beautifully written

  72. GJ on January 21st, 2016 at 8:34 pm

Leave a Reply