I am so bored of the blue folder icons on my Mac system. Is there any way to use custom graphics or otherwise change the folder icons on MacOS X?
User interface design for the last decade has been fighting between offering lots of customization and having a clean, standardized look to improve the overall aesthetic. Think MySpace versus Facebook. Yeah, I know, green text on a black background and flaming skulls never helped anyone’s profile page, but there was a certain fun and freedom to having lots of flexibility with your design that’s lacking in the more modern simplicity.
There’s no greater example of that than the increasingly uniform design and interface of your Mac system. Whether you’re talking about a modest MacBook Air or the huge screen of an iMac, icons are the same, folders are the same, the window theme is almost identical to what we were using four years ago, and everything seems to be blue. While you can’t completely change things – like Windows theme packs – you can change your folder icons, at least!
Since Apple basically doesn’t understand why non-developer people would do so, however, the tricks to get it to work well are buried in developer documentation and the (in)famous Mac user interface style guide. Don’t worry, though, I’ll interpret as we go.
To start out, pick the folder you want to change and use either Command-I or File -> Get Info to show this information panel about the folder:
In this case, it’s a folder called “Nissan Murano” and it contains 40.9MB of data and information. It also has one of those dull blue folder icons, as you can see on the very top left of the window. You may not realize it, but that’s an element that you can paste new graphics onto! Here’s how…
To start, I’m going to find a photo of a Nissan Murano using Google Image Search. But since I want a transparent background, I’m going to add that to the search term “nissan murano transparent background”:
Lots of really good results, as you can see. Since the Murano in question is that striking orange color (well, technically it’s called “sunset drift”) I’m going to use the first image shown, from purepng.com, as the new folder icon. In Image Search, simply click once on an image and you’ll gain more information about it along with a larger preview:
As you can see in the menu, once you confirm that it’s the image you want – and the checkerboard background means that the background is “transparent” in the graphic too – simply Control-Click and choose “Copy Image“. Almost done.
Now, with that in your copy/paste buffer, go back to the Get Info window, click once to choose the existing folder icon, then use Command-V or Edit -> Paste to replace it with the image you just copied!
See it with the cool blue edge? Blue, it’s always blue. 🙂
Open up a Finder window and zoom in on the icons to see how it looks!
Meh, it’s blurry. Technically we’d call it “pixelated” but either way, the problem is that the MacOS X Finder isn’t finding sufficient graphical information to have it look really good.
This is where we bump into the developer side of things. To fix this, you’ll need to save the image to your Desktop, then, in your favorite graphics editor – I use GraphicConverter – resize it to be 1028 x 1028 pixels at 72dpi. Then copy and paste into the folder icon again and it’s A LOT better:
So a little bit of fiddling to get great results, but it’s pretty darn cool, ya gotta admit, so it’s worth the extra few minutes of fiddling around, I’d say!
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing handy Mac help tutorials for a really long time. Please do check ’em out while you’re on my site!