I want to change the default folder icon to something nicer. please help

3 Answers 3


Most standard system wide icons for the macOS are stored here: /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources

The folder icon in which you're interested is named GenericFolderIcon.icns.

If you're running Mac OS X El Capitan (10.11) or later, due to System Integrity Protection, you won't be able to modify these files.

However, if you turn off System Integrity Protection, you'll gain the ability to edit the icon files. Here're instructions:

  1. Boot into recovery mode (boot while holding down ⌘R)
  2. Open the terminal
  3. Type csrutil disable.
  4. Reboot normally.
  5. Now edit the icon file(s).
  6. Repeat steps 1–4 to re-enable System Integrity protection, except that the Terminal command you'll use is csrutil enable.

Needless to say, be very careful when turning off System Integrity Protection and editing system files. There's a lot of potential to royally screw things up when doing so.

For step 5, you'll need some sort of program that can edit or generate ICNS files. Your best bet is probably to search around this site or with Google to find recommendations. You may have to try several options before you find something that fits your needs.

  • 1
    I've updated to Mac OS Catalina. I have successfully turned off SIP via csrutil disable, however I still can not modify the folder icons. Is it not possible to do in Catalina or is there an additional step now?
    – user906357
    Oct 13, 2019 at 16:45
  • @user906357 Changes to the security of Catalina and later make modification of the system impossible.
    – benwiggy
    Dec 17, 2021 at 12:39

Liteicon automates all of this and works on the latest update (High Sierra). CandyBar is an older program for versions below 10.9. http://freemacsoft.net/liteicon/

I believe you might still have to disable system integrity first though

  • An update to this answer: The linked page states it's unfortunately not possible for Big Sur, so they've stopped development, though they apparently still offer downloads for Mojave and Catalina.
    – Jacob C.
    Sep 14, 2021 at 20:21

jefe2000 provides an excellent step-by-step overview of the process you will need to follow.

However, if you already have an icon file you want to use, or you don't wish to use other software to edit/create your own, for Step 5 in jefe2000's instructions you may find it easier to do as follows:

  • Browse the web for an already existing icon file (.icns file). There are millions of .icns files that you can download.
  • Now when you're at Step 5 of jefe2000's instructions, rename the existing GenericFolderIcon.icns file to something else (e.g. OldGenericFolderIcon.icns)
  • Add the newly downloaded icon file you want to use into the same directory and rename that file to GenericFolderIcon.icns.
  • Continue on to Step 6 of jefe2000's instructions

Finally, you may want to test how an icon will look (or you may only want to change the icon of a specific file or folder. To do so you can follow these instructions.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .