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).

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


RisohEditor is a GUI resource editor for Windows that lets you add, edit, extract, clone and remove the resources embedded in EXE, DLL, RC and RES files. It works on Windows XP, 2003, Vista, 7, 8.1, 10 and ReactOS. The software is open source, and licensed under the GNU GPL version 3.

Greenfish Icon Editor

Greenfish Icon Editor is a free icon editor for Windows and Linux that features layers, filters, etc. It can be used to edit animated cursors, manage icon libraries, and is also a general purpose image editor.


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


Resource Hacker allows you to view, modify, add, delete and extract resources from Windows executables and compiled resource libraries. You can also create new resources using its editor. It has a built-in resource compiler and decompiler.


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

Microsoft Visual Studio Community

Microsoft Visual Studio comes with a suite of resource editors that lets you design and create any type of resource supported by Windows. The community edition is free for individual developers, open source projects, academic research, classroom learning and non-enterprise organizations with 5 or fewer users. Warning: the program requires that you sign in with a Microsoft account (which is free) to continue to use it beyond the evaluation period of 30 days. Alternatively, if you only want the resource compiler (and not the editor), you can get the command line tools, which I'm told do not require any registration. They can be found near the bottom of the page linked-to above, under "Build Tools for Visual Studio". You may have to expand the section entitled "Tools for Visual Studio" to see it.


The MinGW32-w64 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).

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.

Icon Suite

[Update: this software does not seem to be available any more. For the record, it used to be found at] 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. It requires you to have the Visual Basic 6 runtime installed.

ResEdit Resource Editor

[WARNING: multiple visitors have warned me that the setup utility for this program installs unwanted programs (possibly adware or malware). As such, the link above has been removed. For those who are adamant about risking their computers, the site can be reached by typing "www", followed by a full stop (ie, "period" in US English), then "resedit", another full stop and finishing up with "net". Sorry to make you work like this, but this is just in case there are people who click links blindly without reading the warning.]

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.

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