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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.

  1. Jami
    May 10, 2014 at 12:35 am

    Just an FYI... It looks like iCondubber has been updated to work on OS X Mavericks (10.9+). Enjoy, y'all!

    • Justin P
      May 10, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      Good to know!

  2. Kevin
    December 21, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    xtrafinder is interesting -- it almost seems the same as TotalFinder, which I do have. So much the same that I bet that are from the same code base and somehow there are two versions of this "Finder plug-in" in the market. The colorized icons in xtrafinder are identical to my finder's colorized icons.

    I checked my TotalFinder Preferences and sure enough there is a check box to select "show sidebar icons in color" -- so that is where I got them from, for sure.

    I am generally very happy with TotalFinder, though one of my main reasons to get it was that I wanted a tabed Finder window, and now Mavericks supports that anyways. Still, I am so far staying with TotalFinder; I am used to it and it works fine.

  3. Kevin
    December 20, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Somewhere there is a colorizer for the side bar icons -- I have it but cannot off the top of my head remember how I did it. I'm certain that with a couple of internet seraches you will find the package...

  4. Matt S
    December 20, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Now what would really be great is if I could get the icons in the Finder sidebar to show in color. What's with the all gray anyway?

  5. bob
    December 20, 2013 at 5:17 am

    neither of the apps listed for managing the icon look are available for OS X mavericks

    • Anonymous
      December 20, 2013 at 10:07 am

      CandyBar working on my Mavericks…

  6. Jon
    December 20, 2013 at 2:42 am

    I like customizing my folder icons because I'm a very visual person and it makes it easier for me to find things at a glance.

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