I have several shared Dropbox folders. I would like to change the folder icon for each, to be a picture of the people with whom that folder is shared.

I know that I can change the icons for regular folders, so I tried to do that for the dropbox folders... which seemed to work at first. However, I notice that after a reboot, the folder icons reset to the default dropbox shared folder icon.

Is there a way that I can change the folder icons on a more permanent basis?

  • instead of preventing dropbox from changing the icon you should rather just change the icon which dropbox uses. the icon should be located somehwere inside of the dropbox.app. if you need more specific infos just ask - i'm currently on my phone so i can't get the exact path right now
    – konqui
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 18:46
  • @konqui: I'm not sure that would work. I would like a different icon for each folder. Changing the global "shared folder icon" that dropbox uses would simply create a different icon used by all shared folders. What I'm looking for is a solution that lets me set different icons for different shared folders Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 18:49
  • good Point i think i havn't thought all to end, sry what if you just choose a naming pattern for the folder like perhaps ProjectName_NameOfPeopleSharedWith or does the sharing change?
    – konqui
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 19:05
  • @konqui: that's what I currently do. But I have far too many shared folders, so I don't want to have to read each name to figure out which folder I want (let's not forget that others may change folder names). Therefore, changing the folder icon would serve as a more permanent identifier, as well as on that's faster to sort through (I can process many more images than dirnames per second) Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 19:08
  • ok then i guess changing icons is the option for you to go with - just keep in mind the icon of a folder on os x is really just a hidden icns File inside of the folder - i'm not shure what dropbox does with this file wther it is synced or excluded from beeing synced - it may be that your icon will be reset on every dropbox sync since the dropbox of the sharing-user changes it back to the default - i suggest you to test out what grgarside wrote with one folder to test if the icon stays
    – konqui
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 19:42

2 Answers 2


Dropbox likes to reset the images. You can prevent this by locking the new folder icon. After setting the folder icon to your desired icon, run the following command:

chflags uchg /path/to/folder/Icon$'\r'

To unlock, replace uchg with nouchg.

  • Will this work if I delete the image file after I make the change? Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 23:48
  • Also, what's the '\r' for? I didn't seem to need it Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 23:54
  • I changed the folder icon for the dropbox folder, used chflags, and quit and restarted the dropbox application. The changed icon was replaced by dropbox's icon. This does not seem to work Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 20:56
  • Stopped Dropbox, changed the icon, then used the chflags. Worked perfectly (almost)! Folder now seems to be syncing for eternity (I guess it's busy trying to reset to original icon)
    – MensSana
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 22:06

It is an old question. But since the behaviour of dropbox gets increasingly annoying as it now even replaces the folder icon of the base Dropbox folder, I tried to resolve this. The following works for me on macOS Catalina 10.15.4. Unfortunately, one has to do this after every update of Dropbox. It only partially solves the original question, as I can only replace the default folder icon for shared folders. It is not possible to prevent Dropbox from overwriting individual folder icons for shared folders.

The Dropbox app stores its icons in Dropbox.app/Contents/Resources. There, you will find two files for each folder icon, a foldericon.icns file and a foldericon.icns.rsrc file. The latter prevents the simple solution, which worked for years, to simply replace the foldericon.icns files.

Caveat: If you install Dropbox on a machine with several user accounts, the app which actually runs is a copy of this one stored in ~/Library/Application\ Support/Dropbox. You have to do the changes there.

There are currently the following folder icons:

  • DropboxAppFolderIconYosemite.icns
  • DropboxCameraUploadsFolderIconYosemite.icns
  • DropboxFolderIconYosemite.icns
  • DropboxReadOnlySharedFolderIconYosemite.icns
  • DropboxReadOnlyTeamFolderIconYosemite.icns
  • DropboxSharedFolderIconYosemite.icns
  • DropboxTeamFolderIconYosemite.icns
  • DropboxTeamMemberFolderIconYosemite.icns
  • DropboxViewNameOnlySharedFolderIconYosemite.icns

and their respective resource files.

Suppose, you have replacement images and have made them into .icns files. Then do the following for each of them:

sips -i name.icns

which creates a resource fork for this file and stores the image there. Then we have to get that resource fork copied into a file. The difficulty is that it must be copied in binary format. We can do this with a combination of xattr and xxd:

xattr -p com.apple.ResourceFork name.icns | xxd -r -p > name.icns.rsrc

The command xattr reads out the content of the resource fork, but dumps it in hexadecimal form. We revert this with xxd and thus create the content of the resource fork as data of a file.

Stop dropbox. Now copy name.icns and name.icns.rsrc to the above mentioned directory overwriting the folder icons you which to change. It might be wise to make a backup of the originals. Start dropbox again, and the folder icons should have changed to the ones you wanted.

You may put the copy commands all in a small shell script which you can run after you notice that dropbox has updated itself. Don't forget to stop dropbox before running it.

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