How to Customize File and Folder Icons on Your Mac

by

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.

before changing icons
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.

after changing icons

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.
    how to change icons 1

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

  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.
    how to change icons 3

  5. Click the icon in the top left of the Info panel to select it.
    how to change icons 3b

  6. Choose Edit -> Paste from the menu bar, or use the keyboard shortcut Command-V.
    how to change icons 4

  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

Starflyer Avatar
29 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)
simonmet Avatar
29 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)
orbital~debris Avatar
29 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)
MrGimper Avatar
29 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: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lunarworks Avatar
29 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: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jaster2 Avatar
29 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)

Top Stories

lg wing

LG Considering Exit From Smartphone Business, Halts LCD Production for iPhone

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:38 am PST by
LG is considering exiting the smartphone business entirely amid declining shipments and accrued losses of $4.5 billion over the past five years (via The Korea Herald). LG CEO Kwon Bong-Seok cautioned staff earlier today that the company is re-evaluating its presence in the smartphone industry: Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about...
google maps detailed street level e1611052089473

Google Maps Gains Enhanced Street-Level Detail in Four Major Cities

Tuesday January 19, 2021 2:34 am PST by
Google Maps has quietly been updated to include significantly more detailed street-level information in a handful of key cities around the world. Upon zooming in, Google's maps for Central London, Tokyo, San Francisco, and New York now benefit from shapes and widths that match the scale of roads more accurately. Meanwhile, enhanced graphical representations of sidewalks, crosswalks,...
2019 mac pro side and front

Tim Cook Gifted Donald Trump 'First' 2019 Mac Pro

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:45 pm PST by
Apple CEO Tim Cook gifted former United States President Donald Trump with the first 2019 Mac Pro that came off of the assembly line in Austin, Texas, according to a financial disclosure report that was released today (via The Verge). "Mac Pro Computer, the first created at the Flex Factory in Austin, Texas," reads the entry, which values the machine at $5,999, the base price for a Mac Pro....
airpods max sim ejector

AirPods Max Headband Removable With Just a SIM Ejector Tool, Hinting at Interchangeable Headbands

Tuesday January 19, 2021 8:25 am PST by
It is possible to remove the headband of AirPods Max with just a standard SIM card ejector tool, hinting at the possibility of interchanging headbands to achieve a different colorway. Image via Prelook In December, MacRumors revealed the large variety of AirPods Max ear cushion color combinations when it became clear that they were magnetically attatched and available for sale separately....
iphone 5s black slate

Images of Unreleased iPhone 5s in Black and Slate Shared Online

Sunday January 17, 2021 9:47 am PST by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today shared images of a prototype iPhone 5s in an unreleased Black and Slate color. The iPhone 5s was launched in September 2013. The device featured Touch ID, a 64-bit processor, and a True Tone LED flash for the first time. Other new features included a five-element lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 15 percent larger camera sensor, Burst Mode, and Slo-Mo...
iphone 12 vs iphone 12 mini

Apple Shifting Some Production From iPhone 12 mini to iPhone 12 Pro to Meet Demand

Wednesday January 20, 2021 8:12 am PST by
Apple has reportedly cut production of the iPhone 12 mini by two million units to create more manufacturing capacity for the iPhone 12 Pro, according to a new Morgan Stanley investment note seen by PED30. Apple is believed to have made the switch for the first quarter of 2021 in an effort to combat continuing lead times for the more popular iPhone 12 Pro. iPhone 12 Pro lead times remain ...
Apple VR Feature

Bloomberg: Apple's First AR/VR Headset 'Pricey, Niche Precursor' to More Ambitious AR Glasses and Could Launch Next Year

Thursday January 21, 2021 3:27 am PST by
Apple's first virtual reality headset will be a "pricey, niche precursor" to a more ambitious augmented reality product, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. As a mostly virtual reality device, it will display an all-encompassing 3-D digital environment for gaming, watching video and communicating. AR functionality, the ability to overlay images and information over a view...
shot on iphone 12 apple

Apple Highlights Photos Shot by iPhone 12 Users: Portraits, Cityscapes, and More

Tuesday January 19, 2021 6:05 am PST by
Apple today shared a gallery of photos shot by customers using the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max, with scenes including cityscapes, landscapes, portraits of people, and more at day and night. Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by "NKCHU" in China (top) and shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by Rohit Vohra in India (bottom) iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 models have a dual camera ...
Apple and Hyundai feature

Apple Car Production Again Linked to Kia Motor's US Plant in Georgia

Tuesday January 19, 2021 4:19 am PST by
Hyundai intends to transition the company's Apple Car involvement to its Kia brand as part of an internal arrangement that could see production move to the U.S., according to a new report today. On Sunday, Korea IT News reported that Apple and Hyundai are seeking a partnership agreement for the upcoming Apple Car by March, and that the electric vehicles could be made at a Georgia factory...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature

iPhone 13 Rumored to Feature Smaller Notch, Pro Model Cameras to Use Larger Image Sensor

Thursday January 21, 2021 1:38 am PST by
Apple's iPhone 13 series will feature a redesigned Face ID system that will allow for a smaller notch at the top of the screen, according to a new report today. The rumor comes via hit-and-miss Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes, whose supply chain sources also claim that the ultra wide-angle lens in Apple's next-generation iPhones is due for an upgrade. The next-generation iPhones'...