How to Customize File and Folder Icons on Your Mac

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This article shows you how to change the icon of any file or folder on your Mac. Apart from adding a bit of personal style to your desktop, there are good practical reasons why you might want to do so.


For example, perhaps you've dragged some folders to your Dock so that you can easily drop items into them, but you don't want to have to keep hovering your mouse over their generic blue icons to identify which is which.

Carbon Folders by necramar

To customize a file or folder icon, simply follow the steps below. You can use your own pictures as icons. Alternatively, there are a wealth of icon libraries hosted online, so you could try a web search for free icon pack downloads for Mac.

Note: If you find icons online in the .icns format, you can drag these icon types directly onto the icon in a file or folder's Info panel, thereby skipping the Preview steps described below.

  1. Double-click the picture or icon you want to use to open it in your Mac's built-in Preview app.

  2. Choose Edit -> Select All in Preview's menu bar, or use the keyboard shortcut Command-A.

  3. Choose Edit -> Copy in Preview's menu bar, or use the keyboard shortcut Command-C.
  4. Next, right-click (or Ctrl-click) the file or folder whose icon you want to change and select Get Info from the contextual menu.

  5. Click the icon in the top left of the Info panel to select it.

  6. Choose Edit -> Paste from the menu bar, or use the keyboard shortcut Command-V.

  7. Click the red traffic light to close the Info panel, and you're done.

If you want to revert a file or folder to its default icon, open its Get Info panel again, click the icon in the panel to select it, and choose Edit -> Cut or use the keyboard shortcut Command-X. You can also select and copy (Edit -> Copy) a file or folder's icon in its Info panel for use elsewhere.

Top Rated Comments

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Avatar
24 months ago
Everyone remember this app back in the day and when Post Your Desktop was the most popular forum on Macrumors?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago

Everyone remember this app back in the day and when Post Your Desktop was the most popular forum on Macrumors?

And those of us even older will remember ResEdit and resexcellence.com!

Desktop hackery used to be such a big thing!
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago

Everyone remember this app back in the day and when Post Your Desktop was the most popular forum on Macrumors?

CandyBar, Kaleidoscope… apps such as these gave a little more life to the Mac. I miss them.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago
If you want to change the icons for all types of file/folder, then this handy free tool does just that.

https://freemacsoft.net/liteicon/

Not affiliated in any way, just a happy user of this software over the years
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago
I would be a lot more excited about this again if custom folder icons would show up in the Finder sidebar. Did not appreciate that when Apple eliminated the feature awhile ago. Just tried it and it's still the case.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago

And those of us even older will remember ResEdit and resexcellence.com!

Desktop hackery used to be such a big thing!

I wasted so much time editing icons in ResEdit. I made a radioactive Trash can once.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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