Windows 8 Custom metro tiles or icons for standard windows applications?


How does one go about making a metro style tile or icon for applications?

As things stand right now the Metro UI looks like an absolute ghetto mess as soon as you get any number of standard applications installed. There is a handful of nice looking tiles, and then a vast number of tiles that are pretty much blank other than an old style windows icon in the bottom corner.

Is there any way at all to customize programs that have been pinned to the UI? Or are we stuck with having bad looking tiles all over the place, or none at all?


Noob Whisperer
Remembering of course that this is a pre-beta developers release there are some limitation as to what is supported in the way you can customized the Metro UI, for instance it doesn't support nesting of tiles inside of other tiles like you might typically expect (for instance the install of Microsoft Office will just further clutter the UI with tiles for the applications (word, excel, powerpoint, outlook, etc.,) rather than a single tile for MS Office with nested tiles for the applications. You can however rearrange the tiles by dragging and dropping, placing those you most frequently use to the left area of the UI for handier access.
The easiest way I have found for creating my own custom tiles is by creating a new desktop shortcut on the desktop and then moving or copying that shortcut here C:\Program Data\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs doing so should produce a new tile, probably far right side of the Metro UI.
For instance I created a new shortcut for the shutdown.exe applet located here C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe (just right click drag it to your desktop release it and choose create shortcut here) right clicked chose properties, changed the icon, and then added the -s -t 0 switches to the end of the end of the target line so it looks like this
C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe -s -t 0
Not the easiest probably but fun to play with. I'm certain there will probably be more enhancements in useability as the development proceeds and more feed back is provided. Probably with a public beta likely to show up soon.

Hey there, thanks for the rather detailed reply though that is not the issue I am having.
I am a test engineer for a living so I have a full understanding of how this the very definition of a preview, just showing a small portion of what will come. I still figured this might be the place to ask in case I missed something.

I currently know how to make new tiles as well as organize them and move them about without a problem, and actually found your exact post on a blog when looking for what I am trying to do right now.

My issue is specifically with the appearance of tiles. I am looking to know how to change the appearance of any tiles I create that did not come with the preview by default. I have searched all over the web and forums and found zero indication that there is any way now, or even any plan for a way to make currently existing applications have a nice looking tile to match the interface. I would honestly rather completely kill the Metro UI than have to organize it in such a way where I have pretty tiles on one side of the interface, and nasty looking tiles with tiny icons segregated to the other side out of sight except when scrolling over to launch them.

Nesting for me is not as important as having a consistent look to all the tiles. I am wishing to know how to specify artwork for a tile as well as how to create artwork for a tile that has both a small as well as a large tile such as the ones that come with the dev preview. If this is being left to the application developers instead of being put in the hands of the users as something that can be manually configured, in a way similar to how someone can currently choose a custom icon for a legacy application, then the problem will exist all the way into release because there will be a vast number of application developers that will just never implement this style of icons. I will be left with the same problem of having a complete mixture of nice looking application launchers and crappy looking ones by smaller dev teams or people who just release a one off application.

Since this is a "developer" preview I was hoping some information mght be found about how the tiles actually work and are set.

Are they just standard png image with a xml or json file referencing the small and large images?
Do they have to be fully included and hard coded into an application ?
Are they set in the registry when an application is installed, or perhaps stored in some icon/image database file ?
Or is there just zero information at all available about how they work other then, this is a dev preview and take it as it is?

If you asked me right now how to customize the icon of an application installed in windows I could tell you:
1. Right click on the shortcut of the icon.
2. Click Change Icon.
3. Browse to an appropriate Icon or .dll file containing an icon and choose you new icon.

How is this done with tiles ?
The tiles have to be saved somewhere, where is that ?
For that matter, where does it even track what tiles are currently being displayed ?
I know any shortcut I create in the start menu will have a tile appear in the metro UI, but where are the actual Metro tiles and applications located on the hard disk? Is it the vast number of folders in C:\Windows\WinSxS\?

Thanks for your time and hopefully if this information just does not exist right now, it will come out sometime soon.

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Senior Member
Trouble, very nice. I added a shortcut for Shutdown on my desktop (both Classic and Metro) Works fine for both.

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