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You’ve got a lot of folders on your Mac. They’re in your home folder, sure, but you’ve also been known to add a few folders to your dock. One holds all your games; another holds the things you’re currently working on.

And they all look the same.

Change that, and the way your external hard drives look on your desktop. I’ll show you how to do the replacing, but first lets take a look at some alternative icons.

Finding Alternative Mac Icons

Folder Icons

If you’re looking for custom folder icons that blend into your existing Mac’s look and feel, look no further than Myssynen’s Leopard Extra Folder Icons. This set offers visual highlights for everything from games to movies, all matching perfectly with your Mac’s existing icons:

leopard-extra-folders

This is perfect if you want to add a custom games folder to your dock, or for anything else really. The same artist offers coloured folder icons that match Apple’s default look, so check those out if you want to extend your variety beyond blue.

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If you’d like far more selection for custom folders, I recommend checking out the folder icon page at Icon Archive. You’ll find a lot, including these wood folder icons:

mac-wood-folders

Hard Drives

By default, all your internal and external drives basically look the same. That’s okay, but if you give your drives some personality it’s easier to tell them apart at a glance. I recommend Slick Drives by Thvg as a place to start:

slick-drive-icons-mac

Three different colors are offered, and various icons mean you can change things up.

Internal drives all have identical icons, and those icons look old-fashioned to anyone who installed an SSD in their MacBook How To Swap Out Your Macbook's DVD Drive For An SSD How To Swap Out Your Macbook's DVD Drive For An SSD Is your old Apple laptop starting to struggle? Is the boot time so long that you can actually go out and buy a coffee? If so, perhaps it's time to think about upgrading your main... Read More . Happily you can find a set of custom solid state drive icons for Mac:

ssd-icons-mac

Of course, if you’d also like your traditional drive to have an accurate icon, you should check out this set of realistic internal drive icons. It’s… extensive.

Random Stuff

Appstorm has an excellent roundup of alternative Mac icons, including everything pirate flags to various devices from Star Trek.

Yes, you read that correctly:

star-trek-mac-icons

If you want to pretend you phone is a Communicator, this is where to start.

How To Replace Mac Folder Icons

Apple explains how to replace icons on their site, but here’s a quick visual guide. Replacing an icon is easy: just right/control-click the folder, drive or app you’d like to change the icon for, then click Get Info. You an also use the keyboard shortcut, Command+I:

get-info-mac-icons

A window with a lot of information will show up, but you’re only interested in the icon at top-left. Click it and you can paste any image to become that item’s icon:

folder-info-mac-icons

Even easier, however, is to drag an icon here:

drag-icon-mac-icons

Want to go back to normal? Click the icon in the Get Info box, then press your Mac’s Delete key. The folder or drive will revert to its default look.

This doesn’t just work for folders and drives – you can do it for apps too – but it’s worth noting that this process won’t work for apps you download from the Mac App Store.

Apps For The Job

Don’t want to replace all those icons manually? There are apps for that, and even replace an entire set of icons. For example, Icondubber, which makes managing icons and themes for Mac simple Manage Mac OS X Icons & Themes For Free With iCondubber Manage Mac OS X Icons & Themes For Free With iCondubber Mac OS X is already a very beautiful operating system. Perhaps that's why it's so hard to customize its interface elements, especially compared to other operating systems. It's easy to understand where they're coming from,... Read More .

There’s also Candybar, which is now a free icons manager for Mac CandyBar Mac Icon App Is Now Free [Updates] CandyBar Mac Icon App Is Now Free [Updates] Read More . It can manage entire collections of icons, which you will find in many of the download links above.

Is This Necessary?

Of course customizing your icons isn’t necessary, but it can be fun. It can even be productive, if you’re the sort of person who responds well to visual cues.

What I’m wondering, though, is how many of you found vastly superior icons to the ones I outlined above. Chime in, people! Use the comments below.

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