I've created a folder in Finder with aliases of several apps. I want to add this to my dock so that those apps are grouped together and the dock isn't quite as messy. No problem; I added the folder to the dock and it's displaying as a stack. The only problem is, the icon displayed in the dock is the icon of the first app in the folder, rather than the custom icon I assigned to the folder in Finder. Is there a way to force the dock to display the custom icon?

6 Answers 6


You need to change the icon of the folder that contains the items in the stack. This can be done in several ways, but perhaps the easiest is to start by navigate to the folder of the stack, change that icon, and set the stack to display the folder instead of the contents.

Click the stack, click "Open in Finder" in the stack, and then press the keystroke + . The key press will take you "one level up" in the directory hierarchy so that you are now looking at the folder that houses the items in the stack.

Next, select the folder (If it's not already selected), and "get info" on it, by typing + I, or right-clicking and selecting "Get Info". At the top of this window will be a miniature icon of a folder. You can click on this and copy it via the keyboard shortcut ( + C), or paste in an image that you copied from somewhere else.

Finally, you need to right-click on the stack and set it to display "folder" and not the stack contents.

  • Does anyone know how to type the special characters for "command key", "up-arrow", etc.? Please help me. Is there an article on this here?
    – Jamie
    Aug 5, 2011 at 18:49
  • I had already changed the folder icon; as I said in the OP I had a custom icon assigned to the folder in Finder - I just wanted that icon to display in the dock as well. Changing the stack property to display as folder and not stack, as you suggested, did it. I had assumed that setting would make the folder open in Finder when the icon was clicked, rather than displaying the contents in a grid/fan/list.
    – EmmyS
    Aug 5, 2011 at 18:52
  • OK, glad it worked. :)
    – Jamie
    Aug 5, 2011 at 18:55
  • Jamie, you need the character viewer. That's available from the 'Edit' menu under 'Special Characters' (depending upon the application). Or in the Keyboard System Preferences check 'Show Keyboard & Character Viewer in menu bar'. The relevant characters are mostly in Technical Symbols, the ⇧ (shift) symbol is in Arrows.
    – MJeffryes
    Aug 5, 2011 at 23:31
  • Thanks for the help Ziggamorph, but I want to know how to put them on AskDifferent, not just on my mac.
    – Jamie
    Aug 6, 2011 at 0:21

Right click (or ⌃ ctrl-click) the folder in the Dock, and select Display as: Folder from the menu that appears.

  • That's it! As far as I understood, this is the exact answer to the question.
    – Martin
    Feb 17, 2014 at 3:44
  • Under Yosemite, this was the solution that worked for me.
    – mozz100
    Nov 11, 2014 at 8:56

You can't really. What you can do is add another item to the folder that has the custom icon, and then give it a name that would make it show up alphabetically first.

For example, this is a set of icons that make your stacks look like the files are in a box: http://t.ecksdee.org/post/19001860/stacks-overlays

enter image description here

  • 1
    I usually call the file __icon -- that sorts first and stays on top of the stack reliably.
    – Ian C.
    Aug 5, 2011 at 18:49

I may be wrong, but Candybar should work.

  • Not what I needed, but interesting nonetheless.
    – EmmyS
    Aug 5, 2011 at 18:53
  • Ok, sorry. I haven't completely explored Candybar.
    – daviesgeek
    Aug 5, 2011 at 19:06

Yes, you CAN do it. You don't have to use the "put the picture in the stack" option. The trick is HOW you copy and paste.

  1. Go to the folder enclosing the files of the stack. Open "info"
  2. OPEN the jpg you want as the folder icon
  3. Click "edit, COPY" (copying in finder WILL NOT WORK)
  4. Click on the icon of the folder in the INFO window
  5. PASTE

You're done. I've done this on multiple folders in my dock.


The dock folder icon is taken from the first item in an alphabetical list of its contents. When the one you want isn't the first in the list change its name to begin with a space character. It then is moved to the top of the list and its icon is used on the dock folder. eg. here's my Video Live dock folder. I want the most used to appear at the top.

screengrab of reordered folder contents list

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