MacMost Now 465: Creating Custom Folder and File Icons

Learn how to replace a folder or file's default icon with one from another file, or one you create in a graphics program. Find out how you can use a free graphics program to create your own icons and use them to make it easier to identify folders in the Finder.

Comments: 19 Responses to “MacMost Now 465: Creating Custom Folder and File Icons”

    Drew
    9 years ago

    Hey Gary,

    When I paste a folder icon into Photoshop, it appears with a garbled border. Same thing happens when I paste in the Chess.app icon. The few third party app icons I’ve pasted appear quite small and have a black border. Same behavior in another user account on the same machine. Any Idea as to what’s happening?

    Thanks!

      9 years ago

      Odd. Are you creating a new document as an RGB? I just tried it and the folder showed up fine. Which version of OS X are you using? I wouldn’t be surprised if older apps had a less-then-512×512 icon.

        Drew
        9 years ago

        Yep, I created a 512×512 RGB document with the background set to transparent. I’m running OS X v10.6.4 & CS3 v10.0.1. Based on what you say, it sounds like there might be some sort of corruption with my system. If so, then this is the first symptom I’ve seen of anything amiss. Hopefully this will be the only problem I’ll encounter!

          9 years ago

          Or, in your Photoshop. Have you tried to copy and paste it into something else? Seashore? Preview?

      Mike McKnelly
      9 years ago

      A work around for this problem is to paste into Preview and save as a PNG. Then open in Photoshop to finish making the icon.

    Drew
    9 years ago

    You are correct, icons paste properly into Preview and Seashore. Something is rotten in Photoshop-land.

    MIchael
    9 years ago

    can you just paste a jpg? I tried and doesn’t work

      9 years ago

      Do you mean paste a jpg FILE? No. You can’t paste a file. You need to paste the graphic image itself. So open the jpg in something — like Preview — and copy it from there, then paste it.

    MIchael
    9 years ago

    Thanks, worked perfectly

    Salty
    9 years ago

    Nice tutorial, but could you tell me if I need to have Xcode installed to be able to do this? When I paste a normal file icon into either Photoshop or Seashore the pasted item just appear as a blank square. Any ideas???
    Many thanks.

      9 years ago

      No, you don’t need to have XCode installed for this. Not sure why the icon isn’t showing up for you. Are you selecting the icon at the top of the info window? Do you see it highlight when you select it?

    Clash
    9 years ago

    Wow! I already knew this, but you really gave me a good idea when you added the Photoshop icon to the folder. I also like Seashore. (Random lol.) I created my own icon, that says CS5, and is black and gray. Thanks, Gary!

    AdrianG
    9 years ago

    I’m having an issue: I create a custom icon and apply it to a file, then send the file out to a client to review and the custom icon is missing. How can I embed the custom icon into the folder/file so I can email it?

      9 years ago

      Right. You aren’t actually changing the file. You are changing how you see the file icon on your Mac. The file itself doesn’t have an icon. It is a type, such as a Word document. The user on the other side will see an icon that matches how their computer sees Word icons. Only applications have their own icons embedded inside them. Documents do not.

    Lydia
    8 years ago

    I just got a new MacBook Pro and find that when I try to paste the newly created icon into the Get Info window I can’t because Paste is not an option. Help?

      8 years ago

      Have you selected the icon (clicked on it). It is not enough to simply have the window open. Also, this could be happening if you are not using a admin account, then you don’t have permission to change the icon (I think).

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    8 years ago

    I must have made well over 400 customised folders using Photoshop and Preview, and i put them in a folder that i downloaded from Apple years ago. These folders stand out a mile,and i have Star Trek folders Example- The Phaser it does not even look like a folder,and if you want more you just duplicate them. In Garys video you can enlarge the icon of say iTunes take a snapshot of it,and i finish it off in Photoshop. I have very few of the ordinary Blue folders in use. You can buy Coloured Folder Creator Extreme for about £7 but you still after do all the art work

    Dave
    8 years ago

    Is it possible to change the finder Icon without installing any third party software?

      8 years ago

      I don’t think so, no. YOu’d have to work hard to hack a change in OS X for that probably.

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