How to Customize File and Folder Icons on Your Mac

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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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.

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

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

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

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

    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.

Article Link: How to Customize File and Folder Icons on Your Mac
 
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HQuest

macrumors member
Jan 10, 2012
61
54
That was one of the firsf tips I learned back in the day of the old, old old iMac G3 times. I use it to this day, including changing the OS volume icon to the installed OS (just because I used to have multiple OS installed), or from the shared folders/disks mapped on my Mac to something easily recognizable.
 
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Niko Todd

macrumors member
Sep 20, 2018
42
96
Is it possible to go back and forth in Finder by swiping left or right with the mouse - like it's in the Windows Explorer by default with the side mouse buttons?
 

phunigai

Suspended
Nov 12, 2018
193
188
what the helk is animator? jebeesus, i have been staring at that icon since 200? maybe in jaguar and never used that program. I think iway back in 2004 on a cold snowy night in Baraboo, WI when i tried investigating how efficient my computing on the new Imac G4 igloo would be by mastering Animator, then a bunch of demons with violins jumped in and next think i knew i was knee deep in the 'eart of Georgia being moonshines by jack daniels 2nd cousins nieces, nephews ohhh lordy!
 

RumorConsumer

macrumors 65816
Jun 16, 2016
1,010
537
That was one of the firsf tips I learned back in the day of the old, old old iMac G3 times. I use it to this day, including changing the OS volume icon to the installed OS (just because I used to have multiple OS installed), or from the shared folders/disks mapped on my Mac to something easily recognizable.
This has been since system 7 i think. As a kid icons were valuable like legal tender.
 
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jaster2

macrumors newbie
Jun 21, 2010
28
18
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.
 

NutFlush920

macrumors 6502
Aug 31, 2011
263
32
I’ve changed icons but for whatever reason eventually they change back on their own. I got fed up so stopped.
 

Kobayagi

macrumors 6502a
Dec 18, 2012
799
1,654
Is it possible to go back and forth in Finder by swiping left or right with the mouse - like it's in the Windows Explorer by default with the side mouse buttons?
Yeah, I use BetterTouchTool to do that. You'll have to add the shortcut yourself, but it isn't difficult.
I made a post about this amazing app almost 4 years ago, still using it and it's still very handy. I've added more gestures in the meantime, but the post is still handy to get you started:

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/bettertouchtool-gestures.1693622/
 
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Niko Todd

macrumors member
Sep 20, 2018
42
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Defthand

macrumors 65816
Sep 1, 2010
1,351
1,710
It’s refreshing to see Old School productivity and customization articles like this one. It’s a welcome reprieve from the phone culture.
 
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trifid

macrumors 68000
May 10, 2011
1,842
4,494
Great article Macrumors, I really wish there could be a renaissance of icon customization like the good old days.
 
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Nunyabinez

macrumors 68000
Apr 27, 2010
1,758
2,229
Provo, UT
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
I use the combination of Gimp, image2icns, and liteicon to make realistic icons for my drives and thumbdrives, etc.

I use Gimp to remove the background from a photo of the drive, then image2icns converts it to an icon on a folder, then I use liteicon to replace it at the system level. All free apps.

I haven't used liteicon in Mojave. Usually they have to modify it when a new OS comes out, but it's a great tool.
 

bstone100

macrumors newbie
Nov 4, 2018
2
0



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.

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

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

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

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

    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.

Article Link: How to Customize File and Folder Icons on Your Mac
[doublepost=1546505469][/doublepost]I made my own icon in illustrator and exported it as a png and then opened it in preview and then selected it and copy and pasted it into where it should and then it shows up as the preview icon along with the word "jpeg" instead of showing my icon. What should i do?
 

justperry

macrumors G4
Aug 10, 2007
10,692
6,196
I'm a rolling stone.
I'm still using some of those I collected from way back for my PowerMac7300.
Here are three now on my iMac.
[doublepost=1546507178][/doublepost]And I also altered the Photoshop app icon from the PS original - and it shows up here in the Dock.
I too like those old Adobe Icons (much) more than the newer ones.
 

Momof9

macrumors 6502
Aug 22, 2018
291
77
So I am doing this. Why does it work on some folders and not others? I even compared the info between the 2 folders- they are the same. It is a bit frustrating, especially when I notice no difference between the files
 
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