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How to change icons for files and folders on Mac

Sick of the boring folder icon on Mac? Here’s how to change it.

Both sizes of 2021 mac macbook pro models
Image: KnowTechie

Even those familiar with macOS may not be aware of all the configuration options available. For example, items in Finder are more customizable than they appear at first glance, and you can easily alter your Mac’s visual elements, such as file and folder icons.

You can likely come up with several good reasons to make such a change. Perhaps you want to give your tired old user interface a makeover. Maybe you want a particular item to stand out among the rest. Or you might want to mess with someone by changing all of their folder icons to files and vice versa. You really should try that one.

Whatever your reasons for doing so, changing file and folder icons on a Mac is not only possible but quite simple. Let’s run through the process.

Change file and folder icons in macOS

The method for changing file and folder icons on a Mac isn’t obvious, but the process is easy enough once you know how it works. With a few clicks and a bit of dragging and dropping, you can customize the look of any item in Finder. Here’s how:

  1. Source an image or icon you want to use How to change folder icons on macos

  2. Control-click the file or folder you want to change and choose Get Info. Alternatively, click to select the item and press Cmd + I Finder control click menu on mac

  3. Drag the image you want to use into the Info window and drop it onto the current icon Macos get info how-to

It’s as easy as that. If the item you drag and drop isn’t an image, the icon will change to match that of the source file. Ideally, you’ll want to use a picture that’s simple enough to discern at a small size, but you can pretty much use anything you want.

Have fun by changing file and folder icons in macOS

Now that you know how to alter file and folder icons on a Mac, you can use your newfound knowledge for mischief. The options are endless.

As mentioned, changing file icons to look like folders and folders to look like files will effectively confuse most people. You could also use Windows icons to make a Mac user question what operating system they’re using.

If you’re feeling really diabolical, you can create a completely blank image—no background, nothing—and use it for every icon on the device. It’ll look like icons no longer exist and cause a level of confusion well worth the effort.

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Matt is an Australian writer with a degree in creative and critical writing. Prior to commencing his studies, he worked in tech support and gained valuable insights into technology and its users. He is also an editor and author coach at Dean Publishing.

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