How to Change Folder Icons on a Mac

Use custom images for your folders on macOS

What to Know

  • Open the image you want to use as a folder icon in Preview, and copy it to the clipboard.
  • Right click the folder you want to change, click Get Info, then click the folder in the upper right corner, and press command + V.

This article explains how to change folder icons on a Mac, including how to change the icon of a single folder and how to change the default folder icon.

How Do You Change Folder Icons on Mac?

Changing a folder icon on Mac is similar to changing the color of a folder, but you need to obtain an image to use as your new folder icon. If you have a .ICN file, you can just drag and drop the file into the folder info window. If you have a PNG or JPG file, you need to open it in Preview, copy it, and paste it into the folder info window.

  1. Locate the image you want to use as a folder icon, and double click it to open it in Preview.

    An image icon highlighted in Finder on a Mac.

    Are you using a ICNS file? Skip to step 4, then drag the ICNS file onto the folder in the info window in step 6 instead of clicking it.

  2. With the image open in Preview, press command + A, then click Edit.

    Edit highlighted in the menu bar on a Mac.
  3. Click Copy.

    Copy highlighted in the edit menu on a Mac.
  4. Locate the folder you want to alter, and right-click it.

    My Games highlighted on a Mac.
  5. Click Get Info.

    Get Info highlighted in the folder context menu on a Mac.
  6. Click the folder icon in the upper right corner of the info window.

    The folder icon highlighted in the upper left of a folder info window.
  7. Press command + V.

    A folder image pasted on a Mac.
  8. The default folder icon will now be replaced by the image you selected.

    A folder on a Mac with a custom image.

    To get the old icon back, perform steps 5-7 and press command + X.

Can You Customize All Folder Icons on a Mac?

You can customize any folder icon on your Mac. That means you can customize just one icon, or customize every folder icon. Every icon can be different, or you can use the same image for every icon. However, changing all of the folder icons on a Mac at the same time is a little complicated. The default folder image is located in a protected area, so you have to disable System Integrity Protection to edit it. After you're done, it's important to reenable System Integrity Protection to avoid issues with malware in the future.

Disabling System Integrity Protection is really best left to folks to who consider themselves experts.

If you want to change all of your folder icons at once, you will need to create or download an ICNS file and name it GenericFolderIcon.icns, then use that file to replace an existing file with that same name that can be found in a protected system folder.

Consider backing up your Mac before you disable System Integrity Protection. The following steps should only be undertaken if you consider yourself an expert and are comfortable using the Terminal app.

If you really want to disable the default folder icon:

  1. Boot into recovery mode by holding down command + R while booting.

  2. Open the terminal app.

  3. Type csrutil disable, and hit enter.

    Entering csrutil disable in the terminal on a Mac.
  4. Reboot your Mac.

  5. Replace the file GenericFolderIcon.icns located in /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources with your own custom icns file that uses the same file name.

    Replacing the default folder icon on a Mac.

    Before replacing the existing file, consider making a backup copy of the Mac's folder icon file in case you want to restore the original folder icon later.

  6. Boot into recovery mode.

  7. Open the terminal.

  8. Type csrutil enable, and hit enter.

    Entering csrutil enable in terminal on a Mac.
  9. Reboot your Mac.

  • How do I change folder icons in Windows 10?

    Right-click a folder > select Properties > Customize > Change icon > choose from the available icons > and click OK to apply your choice. Alternatively, choose Browse to search a specific custom icons folder. You can follow these same steps to change folder icons in Windows 11.

  • How do I change folder icons on my iPhone?

    Rather than changing folder icons, you can customize app icons on your iPhone with the Shortcuts app. Select the + (Plus sign) > Add action > Scripting > Open App to create an app shortcut. Then tap the ellipses beside the shortcut name > Add to Home Screen > shortcut icon > Choose Photo.

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