In this tutorial, we will walk you through the steps on how to change the default icons for your Mac apps to something more personalized and unique. Whether you’re looking to give your desktop a fresh new look or simply want to make it easier to find specific apps, this guide will show you how to do it quickly and easily.
The method highlighted in this guide works not only for third-party apps, but also for system apps. It even works for individual folders and files.
Why change an app icon on Mac
Changing Mac app icons does nothing functionally, but it does change the aesthetic, which means you get to look at something different. The change will appear in Finder, Dock, Launchpad, and anywhere else that you can launch the app from.
Many people may want to change an app’s icon for the following reasons:
- They don’t like how an app icon looks
- They want to theme their Mac with a new look and feel
- Most of their apps have an iOS-style look, but some un-updated app icons look different
- They have an app like Tyke with a transparent app icon which isn’t properly visible on some wallpapers
So if you fall under one of these reasons, then it’s time to change an app’s original icon to a custom icon.
Before you begin
You can change the app icon of third-party apps with ease. But to change the app icon of built-in Mac apps, you’ll have to disable System Integrity Protection on your Mac. For security purposes, we can only recommend re-enabling System Integrity Protection when you’re done swapping icons.
Change the application icon on Mac
1) Make sure you have the new app icon or image (JPG or PNG) you want to use. You can download it from the internet or create one in Photoshop or similar apps.
2) Find your app either in Finder or on your Desktop. Right-click or control-click on it, and then click Get Info.
This will open the Info menu for the app you just queried:
3) Next, open the image or icon you want to use as an app icon with the Preview app.
4) With the image open in the Preview app, go to Edit > Select All in the top menu bar to select the entire image.
5) Next, with the image selected, go to Edit > Copy from the menu bar to copy the entire the image to your Mac’s clipboard.
6) With the image in your clipboard, go back to the Info window you had opened in step 2 earlier, click on the icon at the top left of the window, and then go to Edit > Paste from your menu bar.
7) Depending on the location of the app you’re trying to change the icon of, you may be asked to enter your password. Go ahead and enter it, then click the blue OK button.
8) The new image should now be applied to the app, but for it to fully take effect, you should restart your Mac. After you get logged back in, you can go to Launchpad or the Dock, and you’ll see the changes.
Another method: Drag & drop the app icon
1) Use Finder to navigate to the Applications folder of your Mac and select the application for which you want to change the icon.
2) Right-click the application for which you want to swap the icon, and select Get Info.
3) In the top left corner of the Info panel, you’ll see the app’s icon. From here, drag the new icon file over the original. Drop it when you see the green plus (+) bubble on your cursor.
Note: macOS may ask you for your administrative password at this point; enter it to change the icon.
4) If the application is already in your Dock, the new icon may not show up until you log out. To fix this, open Terminal, type killall Dock and press the enter key.
How to revert back to the original icon
If you decide to switch back to the app’s original icon, you can easily do so.
1) Use Finder to navigate to the Applications folder of your Mac and select the app.
2) Right-click the application and select Get Info.
3) In the top left corner of the Info panel, you’ll see the app’s icon. Click it to highlight it.
4) Press the delete key on your Mac’s keyboard. macOS may ask you for your administrative password at this point; enter it to reset the icon.
The app’s icon should be restored to its original state.
You’ll also like:
- How to customize desktop icons for hard disks and other storage devices on your Mac
- How to personalize your iPhone Home Screen with custom app icons
- How to create blank, empty, transparent app icons on your iPhone Home Screen, no jailbreak required