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How to Customize Mac Folders Icons and Desktop


So, you are tired of looking at blue folders too?  I have made a custom desktop theme for my work computer.  I wanted a way to access my folders via image rather than reading the print underneath of a blue folder each time.  Keep in mind that these are my most used folders.  Therefore, I created some icons that went along with a background I had made.  Below is what I came up with and an explanation as to how I did it (as well as some files for you to grab if you don’t feel too creative today).

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 4.55.09 PM

 What’s the what?

Replacing a folder with an image/icon is quite easy.  You can take any image off of the web or one that you have created and make it your folder icon in OSX 10+.  Did I mention that this is completely free?  It is.  No programs needed to accomplish this whatsoever.  Don’t waste your money.

How to change a folder icon:

1.  Select the image you want to use and open it in Preview (double click the image if Preview is your default image viewer).

2.  Select the image with ⌘+a.

3.  Copy the image with ⌘+c.

4.  Go to the folder you wish to add the selected image to and click once then press ⌘+i to bring up the info.

5.  Click on the folder image in the top left corner (once) and then press ⌘+v.

This will work for all folders on your desktop including your Macintosh HD icon.  However, you may have to insert your password to make the change there.  In the same way, if you have any aliases on your desktop you will have to navigate to the original folder and change it’s folder icon and then drag and drop that new folder to your desktop.  This will create a new alias with the new folder icon.


What you need to create icons:

Any image editor will work.  You probably have your favorite, the image editor I use is Photoshop CC.  I then pulled some of my images and logos for use on certain folders, created a couple, and then grabbed a couple images/icons off the web.

I would suggest starting with a template size of 200×200 pixels or larger.  This way your images will never be blurred.  You can create the icons as large as you want and then scale them with the “icon size” option in view options (right click > “show view options”).

Notes on creating a desktop theme:

I would suggest selecting a background that you like/love first.  This will make creating your icons easier knowing what background they will be placed on.

You may have to play with the icon size and grid spacing in order to get your newly created icons laid out the way that you want them.  To do this right click on your desktop and select “show view options”.  From here you can select how your folders are laid out and the spacing between them.


Grab some of my files below if you want to have something to start with or make your desktop look just like mine.

Please share your creations, I would like to see what you come up with!


The photoshop template for icons that I created:


The background that I created for use with the icons:


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