How to Change the Mac OS X Mail Dock Icon

Customizing the look

The Apple Mail icon

The hawk-in-flight against the blue background of a postage stamp is a no doubt familiar sight for users of Mac OS X Mail. But many Mac users may find that their Mail icon just doesn't fit with the rest of their desktop's aesthetic.

If you aren't a fan of the default option, you can change Mail's icon in your Dock. Here's how.

These instructions apply to OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and later.

Change the Mac OS X Mail Dock Icon

To furnish Mac OS X Mail with a custom Dock icon:

  1. Close Mail if it's open.

  2. Ctrl-click (or right-click) on the Mail Dock icon, highlight Options, and then select Show in Finder.

    Apple Mail dock menu with Show in Finder highlighted
  3. Your Applications folder will open with Mail selected. Select Get Info from the ​File menu.

    The keyboard shortcut for Get Info is Command-I.

    Get Info option under the File menu on a Mac
  4. Expand the Sharing & Permissions menu.

    Mail Info window on a Mac with the Sharing & Permissions pane highlighted
  5. Click the lock icon.

    Mail Info window on a Mac with the lock icon highlighted
  6. Enter your administrator password to authorize changes and click OK.

    Administrator permission prompt on a Mac with the OK button highlighted
  7. Make sure ​Read & Write is selected for everyone.

  8. Find the desired icon in Finder.

  9. Again, select ​Get Info from the Action drop-down menu.

  10. Click on the small icon in the info dialog of the icon file to highlight it.

  11. Select ​​Edit > Copy from the menu.

  12. Now click on the small icon in the ​Mail Info dialog.

  13. Select ​​Edit > Paste from the menu.

  14. Click the lock icon.

  15. Launch Mail.

Of course, you can also use icons from other applications by copying them from their info dialogs.

Restore the Default Mac OS X Mail Dock Icon

To bring back the default hawk icon to Mail:

  1. Open the​ Mail Info dialog as described above.
    1. In Mac OS X 10.6 and later: make sure ​Read & Write is selected for everyone following the steps above.
  2. Highlight the small icon image in the dialog.
  3. Select ​Edit > Cut from the menu.
    1. In Mac OS X 10.6 and later: Make sure Read-only is selected for everyone.
  4. Close the ​Mail Info dialog.

If Your Icon File Has No Preview

To convert a PNG, TIFF, GIF or JPEG image to the proper .icns format, you can use the iConvert Icons online conversion tool.

If you do have a .icns file but it still lacks the preview necessary to copy the icon to Mail, you can create it with Image2icon.