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Without using a 3rd-party application, how do I go about changing the icon in the sidebar for the Developer folder?

When I click on "Get Info" for this icon it's showing the icon does have the hammer icon but it's not showing in El Capitan in the sidebar when I add it over there?

Does anyone have a solution or can refer me to an article that will provide me with some direct information on how to add/edit this?

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    I believe they're all generic icons, unfortunately - have a look at /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources, all the sidebar icons are there Jun 12, 2016 at 8:17
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    @Danijel-JamesW the icon you see is the generic "Finder" folder icon, named DeveloperFolderIcon.icns. However, sidebar icons are named Sidebar*.icns and are monochromatic. I'm not sure if it's possible to add/edit a sidebar icon without affecting all other sidebar icons. Jun 12, 2016 at 12:50
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    The Dropbox folder has a custom icon in the sidebar? What gives??! dropbox.com/s/xt8u2orepav0p78/… Feb 10, 2018 at 2:58
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    My google drive folder also has a custom icon, so it has to be possible for third-party developers to customize it. Aug 2, 2020 at 3:52

6 Answers 6

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I found a SIMBL plugin that changes the icons on the sidebar to custom ones. By removing the icons from the configuration file, it doesn't replace any icons with custom ones, but only allows the icon of the folder itself to be displayed on the sidebar. Keep in mind that this will also change your home folder, All My Files folder and all other folders to display in colour.

Download modified version here

Remember to use mySIMBL for the plugin to fully work: mySIMBL download

Disclaimer: The original plugin is made by W0lfschild and is open source. I do not own this file, I have only provided a version with pre-edited config files. Original version is on GitHub.

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    @hmedia1 If you have another idea for a better solution to this problem, please let me know or edit my post, and I'll be happy to make that change.
    – user220129
    May 7, 2018 at 4:34
  • What do you mean by "Keep in mind that this will also change your home folder", will that rename or change my root user Home folder. Can you clarify that? As far as I know on Mac, changing or renaming your Home folder is dangerous, and could break your user profile? May 11, 2021 at 10:08
  • @StevenMancera The only thing that changes about the home folder is its icon in the Finder sidebar. At this point in time this solution is quite outdated, however, as it requires the SIMBL addon to inject code into the system, for which to happen SIP needs to be disabled. Adding emoji to the folder names would be much more practical, IMO.
    – user220129
    Sep 17, 2021 at 1:46
  • Modified version file host is defunct and the download is not present in archive.org Nov 12, 2021 at 17:43
  • 1. SIMBL is now discontinued and is now succeeded by github.com/MacEnhance/MacForge. 2. Your link to the modified version seem to have expired/deleted.
    – Fr0zenFyr
    Sep 9 at 11:03
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I'd love to be able to change the icons without an add-on. You get better visibility and much faster access.

Best thing I've managed to do for easy visibility is to add emoji to the names of the folders.

But of course you likely don't want to add emoji to the folders themselves. Instead you can put an alias to the folder in the sidebar, and have that alias contain the emoji.

I created ~/Library/Sidebar Aliases/ folder and dropped a number of aliases in there (Command-Option drag the folder). Then I renamed those to include whatever emoji icons I want to help visibility, and added those aliases to the sidebar.

Works perfectly:

enter image description here

Bonus: You can make the names themselves more descriptive. I've got a number of network folders in my sidebar and they all have the same name "Photos" for example.

Using an alias, I can have my smb://<server>.local/Collating/Photos/ folder appear in the sidebar as 📸 Collating Photos, without touching the actual folder name itself. 👍

enter image description here

Important Note: The only noticeable downside to this approach is that you can no longer drag and drop files into the sidebar aliases, as you can when there's an actual folder in the sidebar. Not a big issue for me, but worth noting.

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  • Just like you, I have a "Screenshots" (located inside Pictures folder) folder pinned on my Finder's sidebar for easy, 1 click access. And supposedly, I would love to customize it's folder icon to show the symbol on the "Screenshot" app icon May 11, 2021 at 10:00
  • @StevenMancera Yeah, you used to be able to customize these icons, but years ago the ability got squashed along with what seems to be a steady decline of visual contrast in MacOS. Which is bizarre to me. So many of these flattening changes are objectively a lot less functional and subjectively I think they're aesthetically worse. 🤷‍♂️
    – MrTemple
    May 11, 2021 at 17:04
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Only items you can activate from Finder > Preferences > Sidebar have custom sidebar icons. If you manually add folders, such as the Developer folder, to your sidebar favorites, they will show up with a generic sidebar icon, even if the folder has a custom Finder icon.

The only way to change this would be with hacks as described by e.g. Keyboard_Gamer's answer.

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    Dropbox is not listed there and has a custom icon
    – ohcibi
    Oct 27, 2018 at 14:40
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    @ohcibi that is probably because Dropbox is installing a Finder extension which makes this possible. Nov 13, 2018 at 21:40
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    Unfortunately this is simply false. My Google Drive folder also has a custom icon. Aug 7, 2020 at 20:45
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    Google Drive may also use a Finder extension.
    – Sam Weaver
    Apr 30, 2021 at 15:13
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In XtraFinder Preferences, check "Show colorful icons in the sidebar". A side effect is that this will make every icon colorful, maybe you like it.

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    I don't think we should just down-vote him because it's not an appropriate answer. It's easier to provide more supporting comments to his answer. Also, it damages your reputation on here too guys. Please play nice to new members. :) Mar 7, 2019 at 4:35
  • Sorry, I didn’t see the requirement of not using third-party app. That’s my fault.
    – Di Liu
    Mar 8, 2019 at 5:41
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    There is no “down-voting him”, just down-voting this answer, so that it doesn’t appear higher than appropriate answers. Nothing personal going on here. Oct 20, 2019 at 14:43
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There is at least one officially supported, modern way to change the sidebar icon for a folder.

If you enable a Finder Sync Extension and set it's directoryURLs to contain that folder, the app's custom sidebar icon should be used instead of the default icon.

This is the method Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. use to change the Finder sidebar icons for their syncing folder.

This does not work for changing the icons of certain folders, such as the root of your System directory or your home folder. But these locations often already have their own custom sidebar icons already.

Finder Sync Extensions

You can also use the extension point’s API to add a sidebar icon for the monitored folder.

enter image description here

You will only be able to have one custom icon per Finder Extension app, so if you were to use this method to customize several folders you would need to use multiple Finder Sync Extensions. A single app won't be able to arbitrarily customize multiple folders.

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  • So this will mean, you have to develop your own little Finder Extension Applet, make it run on the background, so that your Folder will have an icon on Finder's Sidebar, to trick Finder that this folder is a Cloud Storage. I don't know if this is worth the effort or not?? I am no developer, I am just a designer. May 11, 2021 at 9:56
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Just create a Developer folder in your user folder and the developer icon will automatically be on the folder, and when we add the folder to sidebar, it will also automatically be an icon. enter image description here

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    Dec 29, 2021 at 14:55

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