Sometime after Windows 7, Microsoft changed the icons for these folders to not look like folders at small size. A single icon file can hold multiple images to accommodate different sizes and color depths. The icons for most system things are stored inside DLL files as resources, identified by numbers.
If you want to restore the Windows 7 icon, you'll need the DLL version that came with Windows 7. The relevant one is
C:\Windows\System32\imageres.dll. Copy it from a Windows 7 computer to somewhere on your Windows 10 machine's hard drive. Do not overwrite the version in the system directory of the new computer. (There are various sites that let you download Windows DLL files, but I'm not sure how legal or safe that is.)
Now we need to make Explorer look in our alternate file. Special folder properties are kept in
desktop.ini, a hidden/system file. For example, the one in the Documents folder looks like this:
Here we see that its icon number from
imageres.dll is 112. Alter both the
IconFile lines to point to where you put the Windows 7 DLL. Also change the
IconIndex line to use the same number as the
You can make a copy of
desktop.ini first, or comment out lines by starting them with
Repeat the procedure for each folder whose icon you want to change. Here's what it looked like for me after I only did the Documents folder:
The change may require a logoff/logon cycle to take effect.