Consider for instance the GUI for Microsoft Word 97:

Microsoft Windows 97 screenshot

I am interested in getting the tiny icons used for the "Open", "Save", "Print" operations below the menu bar. Is there a good source for these and other icons used commonly by program GUIs around this period? That is, any of the icons used before XP would be nice to have and will be appreciated.

(I don't have access to the actual classic OSs anymore myself, but answers that give instructions on how to extract these from your installation are acceptable, so that this question is also useful to others. On my part, I have been trying to search for these myself, but my results are confounded by tutorials on how to open, save, etc. in Windows programs.)

4 Answers 4


I remember there being a folder installed with VisualBasic 4 or 5 that was full of those icons... I remember there being all the stock new, open, save, print, cut, copy, paste, etc. and some more esoteric ones like flags and smileys and chain links... I don't have access to my old MSDN disk from back then (they are in storage) but if you can dig up a copy of the Vb4 ISO I think they are there...

  • 8
    It is also in Visual Studio 6 - look under Microsoft Visual Studio\Common\Graphics\Office
    – cup
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 5:53

Icons within .exe files are stored in specific resource sections within these files. Any modern (or less modern) icon editor should be able to extract icons directly from the .exe or common .dll file, on a modern PC, I would use "Real World", on a historic environment, iconedit.exe should be able to extract such icons.

  • 3
    You'd have to be careful about copyright, though. While it's certainly possible that such icons are identical to freely reusable ones, it's not guaranteed. Tread carefully...
    – user
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 12:42
  • @MichaelKjörling Well, that's an issue with all icons - regardless of how you obtained them.
    – tofro
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 12:44
  • 2
    ... which is why the other answer is interesting; presumably the icons provided with development tools had an associated license (which then raises the question of getting a license for the development tool they’re bundled with...). Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 13:12
  • Which again raises the question wether anything legalese is actually on-topic here. So, better not. I would, however, challenge the assumption that an assortment of 32x32 pixels in 256 colours would actually qualify as IP - there's simply not enough room to get artistic - which is probably off-topic as well...
    – tofro
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 13:35
  • 8
    "there's simply not enough room to get artistic" Lots of people who created icons for software well into the 00s (and quite possibly many even today) would probably disagree there. But I digress.
    – user
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 14:00

As far I recall, most of those icons were saved in standard dll files. Most probably SYSTEM32.DLL and PIFMGR.DLL

  • 3
    There are more in, not surprisingly, MORICONS.DLL which is still shipped with current Windows versions.
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 1:43
  • @Joe but I think the contained icons are not same as the original one?
    – wizofwor
    Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 6:30

Resource Hacker might be able to find these resources. You'd still need to figure out which .exe/.dll file would have the images (could use trial and error).

enter image description here


Resource Hacker™ is a resource editor for 32bit and 64bit Windows® applications. It's both a resource compiler (for .rc files), and a decompiler - enabling viewing and editing of resources in executables (.exe; *.dll; .scr; etc) and compiled resource libraries (.res, *.mui). While Resource Hacker™ is primarily a GUI application, it also provides many options for compiling and decompiling resources from the command-line.

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