How to change folder icons on a Mac


My client asked me the other day ‘How to change folder icons on a Mac?’

Changing Folder Icons on a Mac is a relatively simple process. In this article, we will show you how to change folder icons one step at a time. If you follow along, there is no reason why you can’t have a custom folder icon in a matter of minutes!

Before changing the folders, themselves, it’s best practice to make sure that your Mac can actually see the new image files that you are trying to use. To do so, navigate to the location where all of your files are stored (probably ‘Users/Home’). After opening this directory, click on ‘Downloads’ and ensure that the Apple Logo image file is present in your Downloads directory. If it is not already there, download it and move it into this directory.

After you have done this, you’re ready to begin changing your folder icons!

How to change icons for a specific folder

To change the icon for a specific folder on your Mac, simply right click on that folder and select ‘Get Info’.

You will see an option labelled “Custom Icon” with a small picture of an alien next to it. Click this box so that it is checked and navigate to the Apple Logo image file (or whatever image file you want to use) in Finder (you should be able to drag the files directly into the ‘Custom Icon’ area).

The image that you choose must be in .icns format. There are many programs that can convert .png or other image types into .icns format including Graphic Converter.

Once you have completed the steps listed above, simply press “Apply” and your icon will be changed!

You can also change the folder icons for all subfolders by ticking the box next to ‘Show icon preview’ in ‘Get Info’. This can be very useful if you are using multiple folders or subfolders to organise files within another folder on your Mac.

How can I change a file’s icons on a Mac?

To change an individual file’s icon on a Mac, right click on it and select Get Info. When your get info window displays, navigate to File – Custom Icon. Click on the image that represents what type of file it is ( for example Music or Archive) and then search online for the icon you want to use. From here open it and your file will be saved with a new icon!

“I changed my folder icons but they still appear as circles on a Mac!”

The solution is simple, all you have to do for a quick fix of this problem is control + click the folder and select ‘Show Package Contents’ from the drop down menu. This will show the traditional white Apple icon next to your folder which immediately fixes the issue.

show-package-contents However, if you would rather change your folders back to their original appearance then simply follow the instructions above on changing a folder’s icon. You can either restore all subfolders or just one – whatever suits you best.

How do I create a custom folder icon on a Mac?

Macs, despite being incredibly intuitive to use, can be difficult when it comes to customising certain elements. However, this is not the case with folders. All you have to do in order to create a custom folder icon on a Mac is press CTR + click your folder and select ‘Get Info’ from the drop down menu. This will open an information panel for your folder which includes many options such as name, location etc. The only option you are interested in is ‘Custom Icon’, click this button located at the bottom of the information panel beside ‘Anywhere’ and then simply select an image that you want to use for that particular folder.

The brand new window that opens up contains all your different types of images including JPEG, GIF, BMP etc. Most users will be able to select their desired image type and simply browse for the folder that they would like to create an icon for. You can then choose one of the many images that you previously selected (or even take a photograph) and click ‘Use’.

Now whenever you go into your chosen folder, you will see the new custom icon rather than the default picture which is attached to all folders by Apple in order to provide uniformity across all files. As this tutorial has shown, changing folder icons on a Mac is very simple but it’s likely that you’ll have to play around with different types of images until you find something suitable. The best advice anyone can give when attempting this is not to get frustrated if it doesn’t work first time.

Once you have successfully created a new folder, don’t forget to rename it so that you can find it easily among all the others of its kind on your hard drive! As with most tasks performed in Mac OS X, this one is just about as easy and quick to complete. Good luck!

How can I restore the original folder icon on a Mac?

If you wish to restore the original folder icon, simply right click on the folder and select ‘Get Info’. Once done, uncheck the box next to ‘Locked’ and press OK. The folder icon will now revert back to its previous state.

You can also restore all subfolders by ticking the box next to ‘Show icon preview’ in ‘Get Info’.

If all this is a bit daunting for you not to worry, our technicians service Macs in your area.

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...