how-to-change-icons-header

Sometimes a company or developer will put a lot of effort into making an app function well and forget to take the time to design a nice-looking icon. While a utilitarian app is great, you’re not likely going to want it on your Dock unless it has an attractive icon.

Customizing an app icon by changing it to an image of your choosing is not only possible in macOS, but relatively simple. Whether you want to change it because the default icon doesn’t blend well with surrounding icons, it has an outdated design, or you simply dislike it, you can exchange it for a better-looking alternative in no time…

Before you get into the steps of how to change a Mac app icon, you obviously need to have a new icon chosen and ready to use. macOS uses .icns files for application icons, and it’s best to stick with this format if possible, as an .icns file contains multiple sizes of an icon for various uses. If you are using a different file type, such as .png, the image dimensions should be 512×512 pixels to prevent pixelation.

How to change an app icon on Mac

Pre-requisite: In order for this to work, you will first have to disable System Integrity Protection on your Mac. For security purposes, we can only recommend to re-enable System Integrity Protection when you’re done swapping icons.

Step 1: Use Finder to navigate to the Applications folder of your Mac and select the application for which you want to change the icon. In this example, I’ll be exchanging the default iTunes icon for the one in the banner at the top of this article.

Step 2: Right-click the application for which you want to swap the icon, and select ‘Get Info’ (or press ⌘I on your keyboard).

Step 3: In the top left corner of the Info panel, you’ll see the app’s icon. From here, drag the new icon file over the original. Drop it when you see the green + bubble on your cursor.

change mac app icon

Alternatively, you can right-click on the new icon file and choose “Copy”, or select the file and press ⌘C. Return to the Info panel, highlight the original icon in the top left corner, and press ⌘V to paste.

Note: macOS may ask you for your administrative password at this point; enter it to paste the icon.

Step 4: If the application is already in your Dock, the new icon may not show up until you log out. To fix this, open Terminal (Applications > Utilities > Terminal), type “killall Dock” (without quotes), and press Enter.

change mac app icon terminal

Note: Terminal may look somewhat different for you, and that’s fine.

How to revert back to the original icon

If for whatever reason, you decide to switch back to the app’s original icon, you can easily do so.

Step 1: Use Finder to navigate to the Applications folder of your Mac and select the app for which you want to revert the icon.

Step 2: Right-click the application and select ‘Get Info’ (or press ⌘I on your keyboard).

Step 3: In the top left corner of the Info panel, you’ll see the app’s icon. Click on it to highlight it.

Step 4: Press Backspace. The app’s icon should be restored to its original state.

Note: macOS may ask you for your administrative password at this point; enter it to reset the icon.

The same technique also works with folder icons in macOS, should you want to change them as well. Simply apply the same steps to any folder on your Mac.

If this article helped you learn a new Mac tip, let us know in the comments. Additionally, feel free to leave any suggestions for tutorials and how-to articles below.

  • Framboogle

    Or you can just use LiteIcon 3.2, which is free and will save you a shitload of time

    • Or you just don’t change the icon, which is free and will save even more time.

      • Thiago Vaccaro

        Why did you answer like this? He just send a tip…

      • AnArcticMonkey

        He was just making a suggestion no need to get snarky…

      • Brandon Weidema

        ^ sassy as f**k lol

      • brandon

        XD kill em

      • Mini Apple Genius

        I found it super funny!

      • Framboogle

        I found it pretty funny

      • 🙂

      • Dontwannaknow

        Or you don’t need to have this article posted, which is free. haha

      • Kenan

        No articles = No Money.

      • Dontwannaknow

        agree.

      • Bryan James Bassett

        …thats not actually a time saver, because all you have to do is drag an icon… you would technically be wasting time by downloading something…

      • Frank Rizzo

        Or you can lick my balls

    • Ken

      Strange it says that liteicon is not fully compatible with mavericks

      • Framboogle

        It works fine on the latest version of Mavericks

  • Brian 

    If only Apple allowed this to exist for iPhone this easily

    • Framboogle

      That’s why we have winterboard

      • Brian 

        But that isn’t Apple allowing it, it requires relying on a hack and then installing a 3rd party application, Winterboard, which let’s not forget is very messy

      • Kyle

        +1

  • Kurtiz

    Flaticns(dot)com has flat icons for OSX if anybody is looking for some.

  • Felipe Lopez

    Cool tip!

  • chjode

    The copy and paste commands also work to copy icons from one app to another. I’ve been doing it that way since System 7.5 and it still works.

  • Anthony Antunez

    This reminds me, we still haven’t seen any update to iTunes in OS X Yosemite. I hope it turns out nice.

  • Daniel Beecham

    looks nice on my mac =) thank’s

  • Tarek

    i didn’t work
    it stayed like that
    and i restarted also

    • What version of OS X are you running?

      • GoMAD4

        It didn’t work for me until I removed from the dock.

      • Tarek

        the latest one , 10.9.4
        macbook pro retina late 2013

  • BoApp head

    so could I do this with other icons?

  • Bibek Ghimire

    How do you change the icon for Finder?

  • Anonymous

    I like this post, maybe I just haven’t spent the time to learn how to theme my Mac… But this is a good start with that.

  • Ethan Humphrey

    I just get the preview file for pngs image on mavericks

  • Chasiewpow

    How come whenever i reboot my computer, the icon reverts back to the default icon? I’ve changed the iTunes icon by the way, and running OS X 10.9.5
    Can anybody help me with this? Thank you

  • Ilja Shebalin

    Prior to finding this article I tried it on my own by performing the following actions : App ->Show Contents ->Resources and then replaced the original icon with the one I desired by dragging it there. Before this I downloaded png image of the new icon and just changed its tag to .icns. Unfortunately this didn’t work and your so didn’t your method as well. It show up no icon at all. Any ideas?

  • Mohit Mayank

    Disabling of System Integrity Protection is not required