How to Change Folder Color on Mac

Organize and customize with color-coded folders for your Mac

What to Know

  • Use Preview App: First, copy folder. Next, in Preview app, go to File > New from Clipboard > Markup tool icon. 
  • Then, select Adjust Color icon > adjust with tint slider. Copy colored folder. Go back to Folder Info box > select folder > paste.
  • You can also use apps like Folder Color to automate the process.

This article explains how to use Mac's built-in Preview app to color-code your folders to any hue in the rainbow, or even replace the default folder icons with your own images. If that's too complicated, you can also accomplish the same task much faster with a premium app from the App Store.

Ways to Customize Folder Colors on Mac

Folders in macOS are all a pleasant shade of blue, which can lead to a sea of sameness on your desktop that eventually becomes difficult to navigate. If you have a few important ones you want to keep track of, you can change folder color on Mac without too much trouble.

Apple gives you a few different ways to change folder colors in macOS, and you can also use custom non-folder icons in place of the traditional folder icon. Here are the main ways to customize your folder icons:

  • Use the built-in Preview app: This method uses the Preview app to tweak the color of a folder icon.
  • Copy a different image using the Preview app: This method copies a photo or icon using the Preview app, so it can change the color of a folder icon, replace it with an image, or even replace it with a custom icon.
  • Use a premium app like Folder Color: This method requires a premium app like Folder Color, which you can buy from the app store. It automates the process and makes it easier.

How to Change Folder Color on Mac Using Preview

Using the preview app, you can customize the color of any folder. This is a multi-step process that's complicated enough that you will probably have to refer to this guide the first couple times you do it, but it isn't difficult.

  1. Right click or control+click on the folder you want to customize.

    A screenshot of the macOS desktop.
  2. Select Get Info from the context menu.

    A screenshot of a folder context menu.
  3. Click the folder icon in the upper left of the folder info window so that it is highlighted.

    A screenshot of the folder info box on macOS.
  4. Click Edit in the menu bar near the top left of the screen and select Copy from the drop down menu.

    A screenshot of copying an icon on macOS.
  5. Locate and open the Preview app.

    A screenshot of the Applications folder on macOS.
  6. With Preview open, click File in the menu bar.

    The File menu in the Preview app on macOS.
  7. Select New from Clipboard.

    New from Clipboard menu item selected in the Preview app on macOS.
  8. Select the Markup tool (looks like the tip of a pencil).

    The Markup tool highlighted in the Preview app on macOS.
  9. Select the Adjust Color icon (looks like a prism with light shining through).

    The Adjust color tool highlighted in the Preview app on macOS.
  10. In the Adjust Color window, slide the tint slider from left to right until you find the color you want, then click the X in the upper left corner of the window to close it.

    A screenshot of Tint slider in Preview app on macOS.

    You can use the other sliders, like saturation, to fine tune the color of your folder. You can also use the image editing software of your choice if the options in the Preview app don't give you the color you want.

  11. Select the colored folder, and press command+C to copy it.

    A screenshot of copying from Preview on macOS.
  12. Return to the Folder Info box from earlier. If you have closed it, get it back by right clicking the folder you are trying to customize.

  13. Click the folder in the Folder Info box, and press command+V.

    A screenshot of a customized folder color on macOS.
  14. You can now close the Folder Info box, and your folder will have the new color. If you want, you can repeat this process to customize as many folders as you like.

Customizing Folders With Images and Icons

You can customize your folders with your own images and custom icons using this same basic process. Instead of pasting a copy of your original folder into Preview, you need to open a photo or icon with Preview, and copy it. You can then paste it into the Folder Info box just like you did in step 11 above. This will replace the original folder icon with a custom photo or any other icon you like.

Changing Folder Colors on Mac With Apps

If the process outlined above seems too complicated or time consuming, you will find apps like Folder Color in the app store that are designed to automate the process. Folder Color in particular allows you to change the color of a folder, add small icons and decorations to a folder, replace a folder with an image, or even quickly edit one of your images into the shape of a folder.

  • How do you delete folders on a Mac?

    Right-click the folder you want to delete and select Move to Trash. To permanently delete the folder from your trash, select the trash can icon and choose Empty.

  • How do you make a new folder on a Mac?

    Click anywhere on your desktop screen. In the top menu, select File > New Folder. The folder will appear on your desktop, allowing you to rename it and drag in files or images.

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