How to Change the Mac OS X Mail Dock Icon

Customizing the Look of Your Mac Dock Icons

The Apple Mail icon

photo courtesy of Heinz Tschabitscher

All Mac users are undoubtedly familiar with Mac OS X Mail's standard Dock icon. The hawk in flight against the blue background of a postage stamp is a no doubt familiar sight. But many Mac users find that their Mail icon just doesn't fit with the rest of their desktop's aesthetic. If and whenever you find you have spent enough time gazing at the same icon picture continuously, you will be delighted by how easy it is to change Mail's icon, maybe to one you have downloaded.

Change the Mac OS X Mail Dock Icon

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

  • Ctrl-click ​on the Mail Dock icon.
  • Select Quit from the menu.
  • Ctrl-click on the Mail Dock icon again.
  • Now select Show In Finder from the menu.
  • Select Get Info from the ​Action drop-down menu.
    • In Mac OS X 10.6 and later:
    • Make sure ​Sharing & Permissions: is expanded.
    • Click the lock icon.
    • Authorize with your Mac OS X password.
    • Make sure ​Read & Write is selected for everyone.
  • Find the desired icon in Finder.
  • Again, select ​Get Info from the Action drop-down menu.
  • Click on the small icon in the info dialog of the icon file to highlight it.
  • Select ​​Edit > Copy from the menu.
  • Now click on the small icon in the ​Mail Info dialog.
  • Select ​​Edit > Paste from the menu.
    • In Mac OS X 10.6 and later:
    • Make sure ​Sharing & Permissions: is expanded.
    • Make sure ​Read only is selected for everyone.
    • Click the lock icon.
  • Close the ​Mail Info dialog as well as the icon info dialog.
  • 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:

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