I have known for a while that I needed to change the way my files were organized. I have so many activities, games, and songs that I don't even use as they are in a place I may not even think to look when planning. So I got to work reevaluating my organization system.
Then, just last week Aileen Miracle at Mrs. Miracles Music Classroom posted an awesome article on organizing games, and I especially LOVED how she has changed her folder icons to pictures. So fun and it would really make each thing stand out. The one drawback? She's on a Mac and I'm on a Microsoft Windows run computer.
If you don't have a folder created already, create a folder pertaining to whatever it is you'd like to organize. I am organizing my "Grade Levels" folder, and so here you will see I have all the folders containing the grade levels I teach. I like to right click on the white part of the box, select view, and change the view to large icons. It's a matter of preference, of course, but it will make seeing your folder pictures much easier.
As you can see in the picture above, I still have my 5th grade folder to change into a picture. When I created the pictures I used for my folders, I just used PowerPoint. I used the same template for all my folder pics and just changed the background colors (I like my grades color-coded).
I like to save my pictures a .png's just because that's what I prefer. I'm sure it would be fine if you choose .jpg as well. Just know I did not use .jpg when converting my files in later steps so I can't guarantee the quality. Make sure you've chosen a place where you can easily find the picture again. I created a special folder in "My Pictures" for all of these.
Now that you have the pictures created and stored in a place you can find, you need to convert them to Icon files (.ico). Google was so nice to direct me to the website I used to convert my .png files to .ico files called Converticon.com. I like this website not only because it's free, but because you don't have to download any software or anything to your computer. You just convert and save.
**UPDATE** Make sure you have your .ico files of your pictures in the exact place you want to store them. As I found out, thankfully early on, if you move your folders AT ALL the link between your folder picture and your .ico file will be broken and you will have to change it again.
Below is the screen I see when I type in the address. I use Google Chrome for Windows 8 most of the time. Yours may look slightly different depending on the browser you use. Click on "Get Started" to...well...get started!
Immediately after clicking "Get Started", you will have the option of choosing a file you'd like to convert. This is where you go find the pictures you created for this project. Once you find the picture you'd like to use (like I did below), select to open the file. Again, your screen may look slightly different depending on the version of Windows you are using.
You should immediately see the file you chose displayed like mine below. Click "Export".
Double check that you're going to be saving your file as an .ico file (mine automatically chose it but I like to check anyway). It will automatically check original size. I changed it to 512x512 as the picture seemed to display better when I changed the folder picture later. Don't forget to UNcheck the original size selection. After selecting 512x512, or whatever size you want), click "Save As".
As with any file, choose where you want to keep the file. I added a 512 to the end of my file name so I could keep the original .png file, keep it all in the same folder, and easily distinguish which file is which.
Now that we're done there, changing our folder icon to a cute picture will be super easy.
Go to where you have the folders you are wanting to change to pictures. Right click on the folder you'd like to change and select "Properties".
Select the "Customize" Tab and then go down to and click on the "Change Icon" button.
Click on "Browse", find the folder where you saved you .ico pictures, select and open the desired file. If you chose to save both the .png and the .ico files in the same place, make sure you select to open the .ico file as any other type will not work.
Your picture should appear in the box. If so, click "OK".
You can then click on "Apply" and then "OK" (or just "OK") and your picture should appear in place of the folder icon. If not, just refresh the main folder and it should appear! :-)
There you go! It seems like a lot of steps and it IS more than on a Mac, but I think it will be much more fun and useful to store some of my files this way. And now you can have cute file icons even on a computer using Microsoft Windows. ;-)