I understand that with most apps etc. you can simply press CMD + I to get the Get Info and then from there you can simply select the icon and copy and paste it into another file so that the icons match. However, I have noticed that with files such as PDFs, Images etc, you are unable to get the actual image for the PDF like the one below:

enter image description here

But instead, when you try and copy the icon from Get Info, you simply get given the stock "PDF" icon like below:

enter image description here

My question is: is there a way to get the specific PDF icon for a specific document and copy it across to another PDF even if the contents is not the same?

Thank you in advance for any help,

Kind regards, Rocco

  • I am confused exactly what your question is. I do not see where you can copy and paste. I can drag and drop. Does this problem occur for just one PDF file for all PDF files? For where are you coping and where are you pasting? I ask because I am not having any problems changing an icon displayed for any PDF files. Aug 17, 2018 at 20:48
  • @DavidAnderson What I am trying to do is take the icon from one PDF and make that the icon for another, unrelated PDF. However, you cannot simply copy. and paste the icon from Get Info like you may if you were copying the icon from an application as you just get provided with an icon saying "PDF"
    – Rocco
    Aug 17, 2018 at 21:02
  • 1
    That's not a file type icon that the Finder is displaying, it's a preview of the document. That's why you can't copy it from one PDF to another; you wouldn't expect one document to have the same preview as a totally different document. Aug 17, 2018 at 21:37
  • @PatrickWynne Ah, I see. Would it be possible to copy this preview of a document to another document though?
    – Rocco
    Aug 17, 2018 at 21:39

1 Answer 1


Here is the two ways to apply an icon to a file.

Note: To get a better view of any image shown below, click on the image or open the image in a new window.

  1. Start with the Get Info windows for a PDF file and PNG file, as shown below.


    To copy the current icon from the PNG file to the PDF file, click on the PNG file icon, as shown below.


    Drag the icon and drop on the current icon for the PDF file, as shown below.


    The result is shown below.


  2. To change the PDF icon to be the preview image of the PNG file, create an image of what is shown in the Get Info window. To do this, use the Grab application to capture the selected part of the screen containing the preview. This will create the Grab window shown below. Look for the windows titled Untitled 2 - Edited.


    To make this image the icon for the PDF file, click on the image, as shown below.


    Drag the image and drop on the current icon for the PDF file, as shown below.


    The result is shown below.


  • Thank you for your answer! I have upvoted it but due to my low level, I am afraid you will not be able to receive it. However, I am sorry to say that this is not exactly what I am looking for. I apologise if my question was not clear, but I am trying to apply the icon that one might see on a PDF file as shown in the first picture in my original question, onto another file so that they would look identical in that sense. Thanks once again
    – Rocco
    Aug 17, 2018 at 23:28
  • This is what the second part of my answer would do. Use grab to create an image of the preview and then apply the image as an icon of another file. You could also apply the image as an icon of the same file. An applied icon will have precedence over a preview icon. Aug 17, 2018 at 23:38
  • The mistake you are making is that you are trying to copy a preview icon. You have convert what is being previewed to an actual image. The image can then be applied as an icon. This applied icon can then be copied to other files. Aug 17, 2018 at 23:51

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