What Is an ICNS File?

How to open and convert ICNS files

What to Know

This article explains what an ICNS file is and how to open one on your computer, plus how to convert one to a different image format like PNG, ICO, etc.

What Is an ICNS File?

A file with the ICNS file extension is a macOS icon resource file (often referred to as the Apple icon image format) that macOS applications use to customize how their icons appear in Finder and in the OS X dock. They're equivalent in most ways to the ICO files used in Windows.

An application package typically stores the ICNS files in its /Contents/Resources/ folder and references the files within the application's Mac OS X Property List (.PLIST) file.

One or more images can be stored within the same icon file, and are normally created from a PNG file. The format supports the following sizes: 16x16, 32x32, 48x48, 128x128, 256x256, 512x512, and 1024x1024 pixels.

ICNS files in Windows 10

How to Open an ICNS File

ICNS files can be opened with Folder Icon X and the Apple Preview program in macOS. Adobe Photoshop can open and build these files, but only if you have the IconBuilder plugin installed.

Windows can open ICNS files using Inkscape and XnView (which can both be used on a Mac as well). IconWorkshop should support the Apple icon image format on Windows, too.

Considering that this is an image format, and several programs support opening it, it's possible you'll find that one program on your computer is configured by default to open ICNS files, but you'd prefer a different one do the job. If you're using Windows, and you'd like to change which program opens it by default, learn how to change file associations.

How to Convert an ICNS File

Windows users should be able to use Inkscape or XnView to convert the ICNS file to basically any other image format. If you're on a Mac, the program Snap Converter can save the file as something else.

Regardless of the operating system you're on, you can also convert an ICNS file with an online converter, like CloudConvert or CoolUtils.com, the latter of which supports output formats like JPG, BMP, GIF, ICO, PNG, and PDF. To do this, just upload the file to the website and choose which format to save it in.

Alternatively, if you want to create an ICNS file from a PNG file, you can do so quickly on any OS with the MiConv website. Otherwise, we recommend using the Icon Composer tool that's part of the Apple Developer Tools software suite.

Still Can't Open It?

If your file isn't opening properly with the programs mentioned above, look at the file's extension again to confirm that you're not misreading it. Some files might at first appear to use this extension, when really it's just spelled similarly.

ICS, INC (Total Commander settings file), and LCN (license file) are some examples. They are very similar looking, but have nothing to do with Apple icon files.

Your file might instead be an InCopy Document Preset file that uses the ICST file extension. If so, you need Adobe InCopy on your computer to view it.

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