Customize Windows 7 HomeGroup with a new name and a new icon

Greg Shultz shows you how to rename HomeGroup and change its icon in order to customize this networking tool and make it your own.

In a recent blog post, "Remove HomeGroup from Windows Explorer in Windows 7," I showed you how to remove HomeGroup from the navigation pane in Windows Explorer by disabling the HomeGroup services. Before I did so, I provided you with links to several articles that I wrote extolling the HomeGroup feature in the hopes that after reading them you might begin to see that the HomeGroup feature is a valuable asset to the operating system from both a security and efficiency standpoint.

For those of you who decided to keep or to reactivate the Windows 7 HomeGroup as well as for those of you who have always appreciated this new feature, I've discovered a few ways that you can customize the HomeGroup networking tool with a couple of registry edits -- you can rename it and you can change its icon.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to rename HomeGroup and change its icon in order to customize this networking tool and make it your own. As I do, I'll show you how to create a REG file before altering the Registry so that you can quickly and easily undo the change should you later decide that you want to revert back to the defaults.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

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Editing the Registry

Before you begin, keep in mind that the Registry is vital to the operating system and changing it can be dangerous if you inadvertently make a mistake. As such, you should take a few moments to back up your system by creating a system image in the Backup and Restore tool. That way if anything goes awry, you can restore your system and get right back to work.

To launch the Registry Editor, click the Start button, type Regedit in the Start Search box, and press [Enter]. When the UAC dialog box appears, respond appropriately.

Creating the REG file backup

When the Registry Editor appears, navigate to the following folder:


When you get there, right-click on {B4FB3F98-C1EA-428d-A78A-D1F5659CBA93} and select the Export command, as shown in Figure A. (Take note of the Permissions command as you will use it in the next step.) By exporting the registry folder before you make any changes, you'll create a backup that you can use to restore the original settings in the future.

Figure A

You'll use the Export command to make a REG file that you can later use to restore the HomeGroup name and icon.

When you see the Export Registry File dialog box, choose the folder in which you want to save your REG file, give the file an appropriate name, and click Save.

Renaming HomeGroup

Now, right-click on {B4FB3F98-C1EA-428d-A78A-D1F5659CBA93} again, and this time, select the Permissions command. When you see the Permissions For dialog box, as shown in Figure B, immediately select the Advanced button to bring up the Advance Security Settings dialog box.

Figure B

When you see the Permissions For dialog box, select the Advanced button.
Now, select the Owner tab, as shown in Figure C. As you can see, the Current Owner is configured as TrustedInstaller by default. In order to make the necessary changes, you will need to change the owner to the Administrators group. To do so, select Administrators in the Change Owner To panel and click OK.

Figure C

You will need to change Owner to the Administrators group.
When you return to the Permissions dialog box, choose Administrators in the Group or User Names panel and then select the Full Control check box in the Permissions for Administrators panel, as shown in Figure D. Click OK to continue.

Figure D

You must set the Permissions for Administrators to Full Control so that you can make a change to the HomeGroup settings.
Now, right-click on the LocalizedString value and select the Modify command. When you see the Edit String dialog box, Type the name that you want to replace HomeGroup with in the Value Data text box. For example, I renamed my HomeGroup to SolarGroup, as shown in Figure E. To continue, click OK.

Figure E

Type the name that you want to replace HomeGroup with in the Value Data text box.

Changing the icon

To change the HomeGroup icon, select the DefaultIcon folder just below the {B4FB3F98-C1EA-428d-A78A-D1F5659CBA93} folder. Then, inside that folder, right-click on the Default key and select the Modify command. When you see the Edit String dialog box, you can type the path to your icon file (.ico) or select a different icon in the imagres.dll file.

By default, the HomeGroup icon's path is listed as:


Where imageres.dll is the file containing the icon and -1013 represents the icon's position in the file. However, keep in mind that that number is an internal representation and that it doesn't actually correspond to the true position of the icon. There are 218 icons in the imageres.dll file, and the default icon is actually in position 194.

On my example system, I chose the icon in position 170:


And now my new SolarGroup has a new icon, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

The Imageres.dll has 218 icons to choose from.

Tracking down icons

To be able to see all the icons in the imageres.dll file and determine the positions, I downloaded a very simple standalone program called IconView, shown in Figure G, from Neuber Software. The program is free and perfectly performs the task at hand.

Figure G

IconView makes it easy to see all the icons in Imageres.dll.

What's your take?

Are you using the HomeGroup networking tool? Will you customize your HomeGroup by renaming it and changing its icon? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.