How To Create & Change Mac Icons Quickly & Easily

Jeffry Thurana 19-11-2009

00-Mac-Icons-s.jpgHumans are, by nature, good visual learners. That’s why visual things are engraved easier in our brain. We will recognize faces in photos easier than listening to the description. That is also why the first thing that we will remember about a certain type of file or application is its icon.


In the computer world, icons are an app’s visual representative and personal identity. In terms of marketing, icons are the packaging and one of the selling points. I know some people who would try out (or even buy) applications just because of the beautiful icon. If you think I’m exaggerating, visit the iTunes Store and go to the iPhone applications department.

Mac is famous for its good looking icons. Apple has set its icon standard so high that third party developers have to match or surpass the quality if they want to survive in the demanding community of Mac users.

Giving Files & Folders Some Personalities

Even though Mac users can feast their eyes with tons of beautifully crafted Mac icons, some general items always use the same old icons. I’m sure that, just like me, sometimes most computer users would love to give their personal files and folders unique personalities.

mac icons


I’m not talking about changing the whole set of Mac icons for the whole system using some icon packages. I’m talking about changing icons for individual items using your own customized creation.

There are at least two ways to do that quickly and easily in Mac, manually and automatically. The first method could be done if you’ve already have ready to use Mac icons.

Getting Mac Icons

Due to the different file format, you can’t just use Windows icons in Mac – and vice versa. Mac icons are in .icns format while Windows’ is .ico.

While a great number of sites with free downloadable Mac icons are only a search engine away, a free web service to create your own Mac icons is a rare breed. The only one that I could find is iConvert. This service will help you to convert images into Mac icons. The service is also able to convert images to icons, and icons to icons for other platform like Windows and Linux.


create new icons mac

So we can use this service to convert and use Linux and Windows icons in Mac (should you ever need and want to do that :)), or convert Mac icons to be used in those other platform.

To use iConvert, you need to browse and upload the image or icon file and click “Convert“. As simple as that. After the converting process is done, the icons are available in Mac, Windows and Linux formats, ready to be downloaded.

mac icons


With the icons ready, we can continue to the next step: replacing the old icons with the new.

Changing Icons

Replacing icons in Mac is very easy. You just choose a file or folder with the icon that you want to change and hit Command + I (or File –> Get Info menu) to open the File/Folder Info window.

icons for mac

Then drag and drop the new icon to replace the icon image at the top left corner of the Info window.


icons for mac

That’s it.

And as if the above method is not simple enough, the second option of changing an icon is even easier.

The Automatic Method

All the above steps can be done offline in a more simple manner using the help of a small application called img2icns. The app is available in the paid version and the free version – with some features disabled. But the free version is more than enough for daily uses.

Just drag and drop the image that you want to change into icon to img2icns and it will be automatically converted.

icons for mac

The next step is another drag and drop. This time, ‘the victim’ is the file or folder which needs the facelift. The new icon will be attached without all the hassle.

free mac icons

Alternatively, you could save the new icon as an .icns file to be used later.

Do you know of another application to create and change Mac icons? Share using the comments below!

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  1. Paul
    January 27, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Top method no longer works in Snow Leopard. Mac help tells you how to copy and paste

  2. mac user
    November 19, 2009 at 9:30 am

    pinki is also good for converting images to icons, i have both img2icns and pinki, but i prefer pinki.