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Assigning an application’s icon to all forms in the application

, 5 Oct 2008 CPOL
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It is a handy thing if all the windows in an application, by default, have the same icon like the application’s executable. Here is a tip: how to easily assign your application’s icon to all the hosted forms.


While developing an application, often, it is a handy thing if all the windows of the application have, by default, the same icon like the application’s executable. However, if you want to do so, you have to manually assign the icon for each form in Visual Studio. If the executable icon is changed, you have to repeat this work again. This article describes a tip for how to assign your application’s icon to all the forms hosted by the application with code.

It is written in C#, and can be used in any .NET language as a DLL.

The most important code for the icon extraction was gotten from here. It was only slightly fixed and enhanced.


All you have to do is:

  1. Assign an icon to your project in Visual Studio.
  2. Add the classes contained in the folder IconRoutines to your project, or reference IconRoutines.dll in your project.
  3. Add the following line to each form constructor in your app where you want to set the same icon as the application’s icon:
  4. this.icon = Cliver.IconRoutines.HostIcon;

This will make the windows of your app have the same icon like the app itself. That’s all.

How it works

This section is addressed to inquisitive guys, and can be omitted.

The first step is getting the icon of the executable.

After some time wasted with the .NET Icon class, I understood that correctly extracting the icon from an EXE file (or any file containing icons) is not a simple thing. Why? Because of several hacks there:

  • Icon.ExtractAssociatedIcon extracts only a small image from an icon stored in the file.
  • Icon.Save saves icons in a 16-color format only.

That means the code for extracting icons from files must be written from scratch. Fortunately, such a code was done already by Steve McMahon, and only needed some upgrade. It fetches an icon’s images from an executable. You can find it in the attached sources.

The second step is creating an Icon type object from the fetched images. The following code does it:

/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary></span>
/// Extract all icon images from the library file like .exe, .dll, etc. 
/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary></span>
/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><param name="file">file where icon is extracted from</param></span>
/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><returns>extracted icon</returns></span>
public static Icon ExtractIconFromLibrary(string file)
    // .NET Icon Explorer (
    //                     Utilities/Icon_Extractor/article.asp) is used here.
    Icon icon = null;
        vbAccelerator.Components.Win32.GroupIconResources gir = 
              new vbAccelerator.Components.Win32.GroupIconResources(file);
        if (gir.Count < 0)
            return icon;

        vbAccelerator.Components.Win32.IconEx i = 
              new vbAccelerator.Components.Win32.IconEx();
        if (gir[0].IdIsNumeric)
            i.FromLibrary(file, gir[0].Id);
            i.FromLibrary(file, gir[0].Name);

        icon = i.GetIcon();
    catch (Exception e)
        throw (new Exception("Could not extract the host icon.", e));
        icon = null;
    return icon;

/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary></span>
/// Icon of the hosting application.
/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary></span>
public static Icon HostIcon
        if (_HostIcon == null)
            _HostIcon = IconRoutines.ExtractIconFromLibrary(
        return _HostIcon;
static Icon _HostIcon = null;

Now, we only have to assign IconRoutines.HostIcon to the form’s icons.

Using the code

In the attached code, you can find:

  • A project IconRoutines that contains the code for the icon management. You can compile it as a DLL and link to your project; else, add the code of IconRoutines to your code.
  • Project Test that references IconRoutines.dll and uses it.

Be happy!


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Sergey Stoyan
Architect CliverSoft (
Ukraine Ukraine
Sergey is graduated as applied mathematician. He is specialized in client/server applications, backup systems, data parsing tools, web crawlers and search engines. Work for CliverSoft Co. Favorite languages are C#, C++, Perl

Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberMember 982095827-Jun-13 6:40 
GeneralMuch easier way of doing this PinmemberMarkyMark788-Dec-10 1:02 
GeneralRe: Much easier way of doing this PinmemberShamanKann10-Sep-11 7:55 
GeneralThanks Pinmemberdbrenth7-Oct-08 5:46 
QuestionWhy not use inheritance? PinmemberRob_III6-Oct-08 23:42 
AnswerRe: Why not use inheritance? PinmemberSergey Stoyan7-Oct-08 8:36 
GeneralRe: Why not use inheritance? PinmemberRob_III7-Oct-08 10:32 
GeneralUse Application Resources PinmemberCustec5-Oct-08 23:09 
GeneralRe: Use Application Resources PinmemberSergey Stoyan5-Oct-08 23:34 
GeneralRe: Use Application Resources PinmemberCustec5-Oct-08 23:38 
GeneralRe: Use Application Resources Pinmembernet_user12-Mar-09 3:26 
GeneralRe: Use Application Resources PinmembervishalMGiri25-Mar-09 2:06 
GeneralUsing application icon in forms PinmemberMalcolm Gilbert5-Oct-08 15:08 
GeneralRe: Using application icon in forms PinmemberSergey Stoyan5-Oct-08 21:26 
GeneralRe: Using application icon in forms PinmemberMember 460558610-Aug-11 9:28 

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