I had to erase my hard drive and restore it from backups. The one thing I’m having trouble restoring is the drive’s custom icon. I have a Time Machine backup that includes the .VolumeIcon.icns file that was in the root directory of the hard drive, but this file itself doesn’t have a custom icon, so it’s not possible to do the usual “copy the icon from one file’s Get Info window and paste it into the other file’s Get Info window” routine.

How can I take the icon from a .icns file and “paste” it onto another folder or file?


3 Answers 3


Using Finder go to the folder where the icns file is located. Open this icns file using Preview. Once the file is open click on select all in the edit menu item. Once you've selected all, open a file in Pages and paste the image in the new or old file. This file now contains the image.

  • This didn’t work for me—I selected all in Preview and hit Copy, but then trying to Paste in Pages didn’t insert anything at all. I also can’t Paste onto the proxy icon in the drive’s Get Info window.
    – bdesham
    Aug 25, 2019 at 23:27
  • I just tried this and it worked fine. What system and machine are you using?
    – Natsfan
    Aug 25, 2019 at 23:35
  • MacBook Pro, macOS 10.13.6. And Pages 8.1, if that matters.
    – bdesham
    Aug 25, 2019 at 23:36
  • I'm running 10.13.6 also. I just tried my method again but this time, after coping the icns image I did 'get info' on one of my files and pasted the image in the box at top of the get info panel and it worked fine that way too. When you click on 'select all' did you then see a box drawn around the icon image?
    – Natsfan
    Aug 25, 2019 at 23:47

I ended up opening doing this:

  1. Open the icns file in GraphicConverter.
  2. Select Edit → Select All (or press Command-A) to select the entire image.
  3. Select Edit → Copy → Copy (or press Command-C) to copy the image.
  4. In the Finder, select Go → Computer (or press Command-Shift-C) to navigate to Computer.
  5. Click on the hard drive you want to copy the icon to.
  6. Select File → Get Info (or press Command-I) to open the info window.
  7. Click on the small “proxy icon” to the left of the drive’s name.
  8. Select Edit → Paste (or press Command-V) to replace the drive’s current icon with the copied image. You may be prompted for an administrator password if you’re changing a drive icon.

The same procedure works on ordinary files and folders, too, not just drives.


The issue seems to be that you first need an original app/file/folder with that icon in order to Get Info and copy the icon to the intended destination.

I would suggest using Automator to create your own dummy "Application", assigning the icon. Once you have that application, you can copy the file to your Volume.

Rename your icon to AutomatorApplet.icns, then add it to the Resources folder of your Automator app.

Explained here:


Create an Application via Automator:

Create an Application via Automator

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