Free Resource Editors, Compilers, Hackers, Icon Editors

Create, edit, compile Windows resources and resource scripts

Free Windows Resource Editors, Resource Compilers, Resource Hackers, Icon Editors

The free resource editors and resource compilers (similar to Microsoft's rc.exe) listed on this page allows you to create and edit Windows resources. In the Windows world, "resources" are things like icons, dialog boxes, cursors, strings, version info resources, bitmap/jpeg images, keyboard accelerators, menu resources, and so on. These resources are created using a visual tool called a resource editor, which lets you paint or design your icons and images, and so on, using a graphical interface. The files you create using those editors are than transformed into a binary resource format (.RES or .OBJ), so that they can later be bound (combined) into a Windows program (.EXE) or a shared library (.DLL). In other words, they are tools originally intended for use by programmers to design some aspects of a computer program.

However, the tools are also useful for non-programmers. For example, if you run your own website, you may want to use such a tool, or perhaps just an icon editor (also listed below) to create your website's favicon file (ie, favicon.ico). Alternatively, if you like to customize your Windows desktop appearance by creating your own icons and cursors, these resource editors are also useful. For those who only want to create icons, you can either get one of the icon editors mentioned below (which only create icons), or get one of the resource editors (which can create icons, cursors, menus, dialog boxes, etc).

If you are looking for a fully-featured commercial resource editor, one possibility is the Resource Builder. Of course, if you already have a full programming environment like the Microsoft Visual Studio, then you already have a resource editor and compiler around.

Incidentally, if you are just looking for a drawing program to paint pictures or touch up photos, you are on the wrong page. Please see the Free Painting, Drawing and Photo Editing Software page instead. Or check out the Free 3D Graphics Software page if what you want is to draw 3 dimensional objects.

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Free Windows Resource Editors, Resource Compilers, Icon Editors

ResEdit Resource Editor New

ResEdit can be used to create Windows resources like dialog boxes, icons, version information, menus, bitmaps, etc. The program can import *.rc files (resource script source files) and generate either *.rc files, compiled resource script files (.res) or bind the resource into Windows exe and dll files. It can also separately generate dlg files for your dialog boxes. The editor supports unlimited undos and redos, generation of C++ code for dialog boxes and a customizable layout. Both 32 bit and 64 bit Windows versions are available.

IcoFX, Free Icon Editor, and AniFX, Free Cursor Editor

IcoFX is a free program which you can use to create icons, edit (change) them, extract them from program files, replace icons that are embedded inside program files and create icon libraries. It not only supports the Windows icon file format, but is also able to convert from that format to and from the Macintosh icon file format. If you have an image file (picture) that you particularly like, you can also get the program to convert it into an icon. Alternatively, it can also do the reverse: changing an icon file into a image. Other features include batch processing, support for icon resolutions up to 256x256, support for 2, 16, 256 colour icons as well as "True Color" icons, a variety of painting tools for you to design your icon (even blur/sharpen, brighten/darken), etc. Also available on the site is AniFX, a cursor editor that lets you create cursors, including animated cursors for Windows. It has the same feature set as IcoFX, except that it's for cursors.

Randy's Freeware Icon Editor

This icon editor for Windows allows you to create 32x32 16 colour icons for Windows.

XN Resource Editor

XN Resource Editor allows you to work with resource files (.RES), PE executables (.EXE, .DLL, etc) and Delphi modules. It comes with source code written in Delphi.


PixelToolbox allows you to design icons, wallpapers, patterns and cursors for Windows.


This is a free resource compiler for Windows that produces RES or OBJ files from Windows resource files (.rc files).

Icon Suite

This software allows you to create both icons (.ico) and cursor (.cur) files with icons of different sizes (16x16, 32x32, 48x48) and colour depths. You can also import bitmap files to form the basis of your icons or cursors, as well as export your image to bitmap files.


Resource Hacker allows you to view, modify, add, delete and extract resources from Win32 executables. It has a built-in resource compiler and decompiler and works with Windows 95, 98, NT and 2000.

Open Source Watcom / OpenWatcom Resource Editor / Compiler

The Watcom C/C++ and Fortran compiler (now called OpenWatcom) comes with a resource compiler for Windows resources as well as a few fairly decent resource editors. There are resource editors for you to create icons, menus, dialog boxes, and so on. The resource editors create RES files (or ICO files if you are creating icons) directly.

LCC-Win32 Resource Editor and Compiler

The LCC-Win32 C Compiler also comes with a resource editor and compiler for you to create Windows resources. If I recall correctly, the last time I checked, it can create dialog boxes, but not binary resources like icons.

Mingw32 Resource Compiler

The MinGW32 compilers come with a fairly decent resource compiler for Windows resources. There is no visual editor though, so you will have to your own resource scripts and have some other means to create ICO files and the like.

Digital Mars Resource Compiler

The Digital Mars C/C++ compiler comes with a resource compiler. The free downloadable versions do not include any resource editor so you will have to write your own resource scripts and create your ICO files elsewhere. At the time I wrote this, the resource compiler (rcc.exe) is located in their package (where XXX stand for the digits of the current version).

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