I have an external drive that I frequently have plugged in to my MacBook Pro and it works great, except the icon that appears on the Desktop is ugly. Can I change its icon?
Used to be that every external device you plugged into a Mac system had the same generic hard drive icon, but you’re right, now a lot of drives seem to have their own icons. I think many of them have the icon added when the drive is first formatted by the manufacturer, actually, because it’s sometimes weird how similar the icon is to the physical device, even to the color of the case.
Still, I can appreciate your desire to do something more interesting with a drive icon, particularly the one that’s shown for the built-in hard drive. I mean, who wants a clunky metal square sitting on their desktop all day?
There are some hiccups in the process – and sometimes it seems you need to restart your Mac to get the change to “take”, as I’ll explain, but generally it’s as simple as copy and paste. Well, sort of.
I have a Nifty Drive plugged into my MacBook Pro, a hard drive that’s permanently plugged into the SDCard reader on the system. Handy and with a newer micro-SD card inside, it gives me an easy additional 64GB of storage space. Darn helpful! The icon, however, is tedious, as you can see in this “Get Info” window:
Looks exactly like an SDCard. Which I guess is fair, since that’s what it is. But it’s not what I want it to be.
This is where Google Image Search is your friend. Simply search for the icon you’d like. I searched for “red hard drive icon” and got a ton of results:
Interesting how a blue and green hard disk icon show up as matches, but we’ll cut Google slack on this one.
The important thing is that there’s an image shown – the very first one! – that’s a good fit.
If you haven’t used Google Image Search before, a single click on an image brings up a pane of information and larger version of the image both:
At this point I could click on “View original image” but instead, I’ll actually just grab the displayed image instead. Easier, faster.
A Command-Click sequence on the icon graphic itself and the contextual menu pops up in the Web browser, including these options:
As I’ve highlighted, choose “Copy Image” and the hard disk graphic is now in the clipboard.
Back to the Get Info window for the hard drive. Here’s where it’s a tiny bit tricky: Click once on the icon shown in the top left of the Get Info window. Scroll back to see what I mean if needed.
Then choose Edit > Paste or, if you prefer, Command-V to paste the new image into the hard drive’s icon space.
If it works properly, you’ll see the result of your efforts immediately. Like this:
You’ll notice there are still some oddities, like having a December 1979 date of modification even though my system has the correct time and date. Weird.
If you don’t see the icon change, there’s a good chance it’s changed anyway and you’re just not seeing it. To find out, restart your computer and see. I find that most of the time that fixes the “problem” and I’m good to go. Should I need to do that? Of course not. But…
If you still don’t have the new icon, try the copy/paste again (or even look at the Clipboard to make sure the image has copied properly) and keep your fingers crossed.
Still not working? Bah, pesky operating system. For reasons I can’t figure out, some images just don’t seem to work as icons. Get another image and try that one instead.
Eventually, you’ll have success, I’m sure, and then it’ll be changed forever. Which is good, especially if you’ve had to fight the OS for things to work properly!