Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Can anyone link me to a document or otherwise provide information about what the license is for the generic icons included in OS X (Lion)? I tried searching at but nothing relevant came up.

To be specific, I'm wondering about GenericFolderIcon.icns. If I copy it and customize the look, would distribution be restricted somehow?

share|improve this question
Have your lawyer look at the License for the entire OS. Unless you get something else in writing from Apple, that is your starting point as well as what your local laws say about licenses. – bmike Oct 6 '11 at 18:06
This is for a hobby project, but even if it wasn't I'd still have to point him to the right document. I did find this document: which says "system provided images" are allowed to be used to develop mac software. But they have a list of the system provided images, and the generic icons are not in it, with a few notable exceptions – Per Johansson Oct 8 '11 at 10:39
When you enter into a developer agreement with Apple - things change a bit (you will be presented with those terms and conditions when you join that program.) I was assuming you meant as an end user (even though you listed developer) since this site isn't really meant for questions developers face - just end users. My apologies - I didn't want to go into a deep answer to a brief question. Feel free to answer your own question - edit it to make your use case less vague. Lots of people have experience with using Apple images in their software. – bmike Oct 8 '11 at 14:32

IANAL but I would guess that all the graphical assets in OS X are copyright Apple just like everything else in the OS.

Any assets that you are entitled to use are listed on the developer sites for which typically a licence must be signed.

share|improve this answer
"Just like everything else in the OS" isn't strictly true -- there is a great deal of open source software in OS X that does not belong to Apple, for example, plus other technologies that are licensed from elsewhere. However, I agree that Apple's own icons are very unlikely to be anything other than Apple's intellectual property. If in doubt, you can contact Apple's legal department here. – scottishwildcat Oct 6 '11 at 17:01
It's their IP ofc, but I think there's several reasons for them to allow use of it. Consistent looks for the software for example. – Per Johansson Oct 6 '11 at 17:37

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.