I want to add a smart folder for each label in the sidebar (I believe there is no way to directly to add the labels, so I have to resort to smart folder). However, all of them have the gear icon in the sidebar, even if I changed its icon and the icon is correctly shown in finder itself.

Note that I am NOT changing the smart folder's default icon, I just want to change them to a red, green, blue ... dots, just like the labels.

How can I achieve this?

More info: Changing the icon itself does not affect sidebar look. I tried to change to a red circle:

How it looks like in fider.

Info window

It's info

However same look at sidebar:


  • As far as I'm concerned you can't change the sidebar icons, which really annoys me since they removed the icons for sites and library
    – Luke
    Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 0:25

2 Answers 2


How can you change the colors of the glyphs in the Finder sidebar, while leaving them as their default icon? You can't (unless there's a third party tool about which I am unfamiliar). However, you can change the default icons to your heart's content. Here's how:

As a test, I created a Smart Folder that finds all PDFs in my home directory. The default glyph for the Smart Folder is a gear, as noted in the OP.

Here are the steps to change the glyph:

  • Locate the directory /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources
  • Locate the file called SidebarSmartFolder.icns

enter image description here

  • Rename it to SidebarSmartFolder_old.icns
  • Paste into Resources folder the glyph you want to use in its place.
  • Rename it to SidebarSmartFolder.icns
  • Reboot your Mac.

You'll see now that my Smart Folder glyph in the sidebar has changed to the new one.

enter image description here

  • Per the question he is not looking to change the default Smart Folder icon, which is what these steps do.
    – tubedogg
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 16:07
  • That depends on your interpretation. The explanation does say that he does not wish to change the icon, but the question clearly says "Change Smart Folder's Icon".
    – Dave
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 16:10
  • Now that the OP changed the question, that changes my answer. I'll edit it accordingly. (Interesting that I was modded down for.... erm, answering the actual question. Strange, that.)
    – Dave
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 17:40
  • I don't think I changed anything... However your method will still make smart folders have the SAME icon, while I want them to have different ones, i.e., red, blue, green circles.
    – Ivan Xiao
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 20:00
  • Yes, I am aware of that. Thus, my qualifier... you can't, but you CAN change the icon.
    – Dave
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 20:01

You can create your smart folder and then change its icon in the same way you can with any other icon on OSX:

1) Copy any image or icon and copy it to the clipboard (Cmd+C)
2) Select your smart folder and press Cmd+I to show its information window
3) Click on the icon on the top left
4) Press Cmd+V to paste the image/icon from your clipboard

I just tried it and works : )

Update: I am using OS X Mountain Lion

  • 4
    I would think this should work, but it doesn't change the glyph in the Finder sidebar.
    – Dave
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 13:04
  • Did you kill Finder and restart it? Hold down Option, right click on the Finder icon in the dock and click Relaunch.
    – tubedogg
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 16:09
  • I already tried this, however the icon shown in the sidebar is not changed.
    – Ivan Xiao
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 20:00
  • How funny... it works for me. dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/18885/test.png I use Mountain Lion though...
    – ozke
    Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 9:27
  • Yes, unfortunetely this stopped working with Mavericks. :(
    – wedi
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 19:02

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