macOS - How to change the icon of files and folders

This is how to change the icon of files and folders in macOS

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Did you know that you can change the icon of files and folders in macOS? If you did not, in this article I will show you how it is done!

Out of the box, macOS uses a generic blue icon for folders. That’s perfectly fine as you can always identify the folder by its name. Well, not always, and that’s where the ability to change folder icons comes in handy.

Why change the default folder icon?

I added a couple of frequently used folders to the Dock, right next to the Trash can and the Downloads folder. The problem is, that without hovering over the folder with the mouse, I don’t see the name of it. True, the preview of the folder’s contents sometimes gives me a visual clue, but not always. As a result, when I try to drag and drop a file into my “Scans” folder, I have first to confirm which one the correct folder is. I figured it would be much easier if each folder had a unique icon that would relate to its name.

macOS - How to change the icon of files and folders
My original Dock

How to change the icon of files and folders

To change the icon of a folder, open Finder and select the folder you would like to change the icon of. Then press COMMAND + I or use File –> Get Info to bring up the Info Sheet. In the upper-left corner of the Info Sheet, you will see a smaller version of the folder icon.

  • Open Finder and select folder
  • Open Info Sheet (COMMAND + I)
  • Drag and drop image file onto folder icon on Info Sheet

Next, pick an image file that you want to use as the new folder icon. I typically go to iconfinder.com to find free icons I can use. Then drag and drop the image file onto the folder icon on the Info Sheet to replace it. I have found that ICNS files work best, so make sure you select the correct file type when downloading the icon. The same principal applies to files, but I haven’t had the need to replace file icons yet.