ResourcesExtract is a free portable tool which scans EXE, DLL, CPL and OCX files, extracts any resources they may contain (bitmaps, icons, cursors, videos and more) and saves them to your chosen location.
Why bother? There are several reasons, but our favourite would be to build a huge collection of icons, ready for some intensive PC customisation.
The program is generally easy to use. Point it at the necessary folder or files, choose which resource types to extract, and that's probably enough. Although you can also tell ResourcesExtract to scan subfolders, and save any BMP files as PNG (they'll be much smaller).
We tested the program by asking it to work through our C:\Program Files folders. This took almost ten minutes, which seemed a little slow until we realised ResourcesExtract had found almost 15,000 individual resources.
The total number doesn't mean a great deal, though, as most of them are entirely useless: tiny bitmaps, lo-res icons, AVIs of progress indicators, and so on.
Still, around 5% of our resources turned out to be useful, or at least interesting. The hi-res icons were the highlight for us, but there were some unexpected bitmaps which we didn't recognise, and a surprising 1,600 cursors (though most of these were very plain).
Exactly what you'll see depends on your installed applications, of course, but if all else fails you can always scan your User or Windows folders. This didn't deliver as impressive a selection for us, but there were still some interesting finds, and a few oddities (a Google Toolbar graphic - it wasn't installed).
ResourcesExtract provides a simple way to extract and save the resources from your target executables. Most of them will be entirely useless - or they were on our system, anyway - but you'll probably find a few that are more interesting, and the process is much easier than checking files individually.