Can you make the Dock icon for an app appear different? Obviously you could copy the whole app or symlink parts of it, but I don't want to have to create a symlink for every single file in the Resources directory.

I tried pasting an icon into the "Get Info" window of an alias or symlink, but that just triggered the bell noise.

2 Answers 2


The bell sound suggests you do not have the right to alter the application. A command line approach will allow you to gain the appropriate rights.

AppleScript App Trampoline

For a per-user approach, consider creating an small trampoline application using AppleScript. Using AppleScript Editor, create an application that launches your desired application.

The AppleScript can be as little as:

tell app "/Applications/Original.app"
end tell

You can apply a custom icon to your trampoline application and place this application in the Dock. When launched, the trampoline application will in turn launch the original application.

Command Line Approach

The approach below will change the application icon for all users.

Try setting a custom icon on the application using the command line tool SetFile and super user rights, sudo.

See How can I change a file or folder icon using the Terminal for a few approaches for setting an icon via the command line. Below is the most highly rated response:

# Take an image and make the image its own icon:
sips -i icon.png

# Extract the icon to its own resource file:
/Developer/Tools/DeRez -only icns icon.png > tmpicns.rsrc

# append this resource to the file you want to icon-ize.
/Developer/Tools/Rez -append tmpicns.rsrc -o file.ext

# Use the resource to set the icon.
sudo /Developer/Tools/SetFile -a C /Applications/MyApp.app

# clean up.
rm tmpicns.rsrc
# rm icon.png # probably want to keep this for re-use.

I have appended sudo before the SetFile command to elevate your rights.

  • I know I can do those, but I want to do this for only one user and the Applescript/open -a will make both icons show up when the app is running.
    – 0942v8653
    Jun 26, 2014 at 13:28
  • Your best option then is to duplicate the entire application and customise the duplicate as required. Jun 26, 2014 at 13:42
  • Exactly what I was hoping to avoid :)
    – 0942v8653
    Jun 26, 2014 at 16:02
  • Would hiding the running application's icon entirely from the Dock help? This is possible by inserting a value in the application's Info.plist file. Jun 26, 2014 at 17:11
  • Yes but that would ruin the command-tab switcher.
    – 0942v8653
    Jun 26, 2014 at 17:12

Well, there is a new little 3rd party app called cDock that does remarkable things to the dock. Things that used to be routine. I, for one, love having no backdrop at all to my small left-side dock.

  • 1
    How does this application solve the problem described in the question?
    – nohillside
    Jun 26, 2014 at 9:22
  • 1
    I've looked at all the source and documentation I can find and it says nothing about changing icons, unfortunately. Just changing the dock background and things like that.
    – 0942v8653
    Jun 26, 2014 at 13:25
  • You're right, I was off-topic.
    – Zo219
    Aug 8, 2014 at 23:04

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