Many people who use macOS like the way it looks, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to personalize it. Sure, you can choose between Light and Dark mode, or change the wallpaper, but what else can you do?
Changing your icons to something more personal isn’t just fun, but it can be useful as well. Using a different icon for a folder, for example, can be a visual cue to display what you’re storing inside. You may not have even known it was possible to change file and folder icons on macOS, but it’s surprisingly easy.
How to Change File and Folder Icons
Most of the time, if you’re changing a file or folder icon, you want to use your own photo or a photo from the web. We’ll cover that first, but we’ll also look at how to copy and use the icon from another file or folder. These instructions work for changing Application icons as well.
First, you’ll want to choose the image you want to use. Then, go to the file or folder you wish to change the icon for and right-click on it. Choose Get Info from the menu.
You’ll see the file or folder icon in the upper-left of this screen. As one option, you can drag and drop an image on top of it to change the icon to that photo.
You can also copy an image (from the Preview app, for example), then select the icon in the upper-left, then press Command + V to paste it. Alternatively, you can go to Edit > Paste in the menu.
If you’re having trouble, make sure to select the small icon in the upper-left, not the larger image below.
Using Another File or Folder’s Icon
Using the icon from another file or folder is similarly easy. Find the file or folder you wish to copy the icon from. Right-click, select Get Info, then select the small icon in the top-left of the screen.
Copy it by pressing Command + C. You can also copy by choosing Edit > Copy in the menu bar.
Now locate the file you plan to change the icon for. Right-click it, select Get Info, then click on the small icon in the upper left to select it.
Now paste the icon from the other file by pressing Command + V or selecting Edit > Paste from the menu bar.
How to Restore Default Icons
If you want to restore the default icon to a file, it’s easy, but may not work how you would image.
Find the file you want to restore the default icon for, then right-click it and select Get Info. Select the icon in the top-left, then select Edit > Cut in the menu bar. Now the file should be back to its default icon.
If you want to customize your phone too, don’t forget to check out our guide to changing iPhone icons.
Kris Wouk is a writer, musician, and whatever it’s called when someone makes videos for the web. He’s an Apple nerd with a fondness for hi-res audio and home theater gear.