Custom labels for removable drives

Registry Editor

I found a great tip in PC Plus this month (April 2009 edition) in an article about Registry hacks that allows you to give meaningful names to your removable drives in Windows; (UPDATED 10 January 2010) I’ve tried it with both Windows XP and Windows 7, so on those grounds I would imagine that it should also work with Windows Vista.

The issue

I’ve got a SanDisk multi-card reader attached to my PC via USB, and by default it displays four Removable Disk icons in My Computer with the generic label “Removable Disk (X:)” where X is the letter assigned to the drive.

Devices with Removable Storage

The problem is that I can never remember which drive is which. Is Q: for SD cards? Which drive is assigned to Compact Flash cards?

This Registry hack allows you to customize the label.

The hack

  1. Make sure you create a System Restore point before you start, just in case!
  2. Start RegEdit (Start > Run…, type regedit, click OK)
  3. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer
  4. Within the Explorer key create a new key called DriveIcons
  5. Within that create a new key with the drive letter you want to customize, e.g. Q
  6. Within that create a new key called DefaultLabel
  7. Double-click this key’s (Default) value entry and give it the name you want, e.g. Compact Flash, and click OK
  8. Refresh your Explorer window to see the change.
  9. Repeat for as many removable drives as you need to customize.

Devices with Removable Storage, and customized labels

Now that’s much easier.

.reg file

Of course, if you don’t fancy poking around in the Windows Registry you can create a plain text file in Notepad (or another plain text editor) and create the settings there. An example file is below.

Simply change the letters of the DriveIcons and the @ values.

Then save the file as driveicons.reg, and double-click it to merge the values into the Registry.

Then remember to press F5 to refresh your Explorer window to see the changes.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


@="Compact Flash"

@="xD Picture Card"

@="Secure Digital"

@="Sony Memory Stick"

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 52 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Enneagram type FOUR and introvert (INFP), I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, play mahjong, write, draw and laugh… Scrum master at Safeguard Global; latterly at Sky and Vision/Cegedim. Former web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and previously warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall.

One thought on “Custom labels for removable drives”

  1. This is great! It allowed me to name them just fine. It appears to work in Windows 8.1.
    Is there a way to customize the generic Removable Disk icon? I mean to change the picture?
    I’ve seen some ways of doing it but they require creating an Autorun and placing it in the USB Thumb Drive itself. This doesn’t work because I have a bunch of thumb drives, SD card and such. I was hoping to make the change within the registry so no matter what drive I plug in, it’ll have the same icon whether a device is plugged in or not.

    Thank you,

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