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date 26.Oct.2014

■ Custom drive icons for external hard disks and USB sticks

When you have many USB devices attached, coupled with many internal hard disks and partitions, the list of drives appearing in My Computer folder can be long and and confusing. How can you tell all these removable disks apart? What drive letter was assigned to that flash drive you just plugged in?

One solution is to use the label assigned to each device. The full name of drives appears as CRUZER (J:) where J is the assigned drive letter and CRUZER the label. You can change these labels if you press <F2> to rename the drive while browsing My Computer (This PC). Choose the labels to conveniently distinguish your external storage devices, as they appear on e.g. the folder tree pane. When it comes to xplorer² drivebar, which only shows the drive icon, the label appears (oddly) on the status bar as you hover the mouse over the drive icons.

For more visual impact and easier identification of your thumb drives, you can assign a custom icon. For most folders, you can replace the standard yellow folder icon using the property page (press <F12> or right click on the folder), then Customize tab. However if you try this for a drive you will find that the change icon button is missing. Assigning a thumb drive icon is a bit awkward but not too hard: we just need to create (or edit) a file called AUTORUN.INF placed in the root folder to specify the desired icon. Here is a step-by-step illustration:

  1. Preparation. Plug in your USB stick and browse its root folder (e.g. J:\)
  2. Find an icon. There is a wealth of options; if you don't have an ICO file handy, you can use icon finder. Prefer icons of standard ICO format (I am not sure if it will work with other file types). Save it in your flash drive e.g. as AUTORUN.ICO.
  3. Create AUTORUN.INF. Use xplorer² Actions > New file menu command and create a plain text file called AUTORUN.INF in the drive root (e.g. J:\AUTORUN.INF). Press <F4> to edit it and copy/paste this content and save the file:
use custom icons to tell your USB drives apart


Another option is to copy the above text, click on the J: folder pane then hit <Ctrl+V> to paste it in a text file in one stroke—then rename it to autorun.inf

Now the J: icon really stands out even on the drivebar!

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