I have several virtual machines shortcutted on my dock. By default these are all named "VirtualBoxVM" and have the same icon, it's difficult for me to tell them apart. I'd like to give them all at least a different name, hopefully also a different icon.

My question is, can you customize dock icons and labels?



Icons on the Dock are pulled from the icon of the item. You can change the icon of the item using the Get Info page.

  1. Get the icon/image that you want to use for the icon on the Dock and open it in Preview.
  2. Press ⌘A to select all of the image and ⌘C to copy it.
  3. ⌘-click the item in the Dock to open its location in Finder.
  4. Open the Get Info window with ⌘I (or right-click → Get Info).
  5. Select the icon in the top-left of the Get Info window and press ⌘V to paste.
  6. If the icon in the Dock does not update, log out and back in, or restart the Dock with killall -HUP Dock.


The name of the item on the Dock is pulled from the name of the item itself. You can rename the item by ⌘-clicking on the item in the Dock and renaming it from Finder.

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  • Do you know the path to the dock items? (IE. in Finder?) Are the dock shortcuts in a folder or config file somewhere that I can modify? (sorry, new to OSX) – Juicy Sep 2 '15 at 19:18
  • @Juicy They're set in ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.dock.plist. You can modify this file directly, but once the Dock reloads the cache of the item from the original item as I described in my answer, it will be updated and overwrite the preference in this file. – grg Sep 2 '15 at 19:22
  • Hmm I understand so essentially this will not work then. These shortcuts I want to modify all point to the same executable (although with different parameters) so they will always each have the same icon, am I correct? – Juicy Sep 2 '15 at 19:25
  • @Juicy Nope, you can change the icon of the shortcut independently from the original file. Open an icon in Preview, select the document and copy-paste it into the Get Info icon of the shortcut. Does that help? – grg Sep 2 '15 at 19:29
  • I think I get it but you'll have to pardon my ignorance: when I right-click my icons on the dock they do not have a "Get Info" option. (Files in my Applications folder do, but those are the applications and not the shortcut.) – Juicy Sep 2 '15 at 19:35

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