This is a really petty complaint, but in macOS, a file will assume the icon set for it by the default application set to open that file, but on my Mac certain file types, the icon seems to be generated on the fly to a very basic generic icon. The only file types that this happens with are files that Quicklook can view.

For example, a JSON file can NOT be previewed in Quicklook and the icon on my computer looks like this: JSON file type icon

Now, an HTML file which can preview in Quicklook has the generic icon with the file extension type written at the bottom of the icon like this: Generic File Type Icon

However, the default application that is set to open HTML files on my mac has the icon set to look like this: What HTML File Types Should Look Like On My Mac

I have doubled checked the default application set to open HTML files, but it's not just HTML files. It is any file that can be previewed with Quicklook.

Another Example With What A PHP File Icon Should Display As VS. What It Actually Displays As:

What The PHP Icon Should Display As The Generic Icon For A PHP File Generated Displaying The File Type At The Bottom Of The Actual Icon

I believe these icons are being generated on the fly because it is the same generic looking icon, but the file extension is written at the bottom of the icon. Second, it only happens with files that can be previewed with Quicklook. Third, if the OS doesn't seem to have it cached, or I haven't opened the file for a while it will display the correct icon for a split second and then switch over to the generic icon. Lastly, I did find some strange icons that looked like they were the corners for that icon when digging around in /Library/Core Services ( It was for sure in the /Library/ folder, but I can't 100% remember if it was inside one of the bundle file's resources folder ). It looks like Quicklook does generate the preference panes icon on the fly, found in /Library/Quicklook/StandardBundles.qlgenerator/Contents/Resources . By looking at the plist located here: plist and as you can see the gear icons here: Quicklook Gear Icons

I really want to stop macOS from generating these icons. I just want my system to display the correct icons that are associated with the file type. I don't care for the generic icon, and although it does not make any difference it bothers me, and I would be interested in how this actually works.

  • By the generic icon, do you mean the white one? If you look really closely, it's actually previewing the file contents. (:
    – SilverWolf
    Nov 4 '18 at 17:03
  • @SilverWolf yep you are right. It is creating a little preview. I gave up on the issue, but I realized by turning off show previews in the folder view options the preview icon is no longer generated, but an undesired side effect of this is now Quick Look no longer will preview the file. I really wish I could prevent Quick Look from creating the small preview icon, but retain the ability to use Quick Look to view the file without having to open the file. Maybe I'll look more into the bundle file in the future unless anyone has any suggestions
    – mcbeav
    Jun 19 '19 at 4:41

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