I have moved certain sections (downloads, music, pictures) of my user directory from my SSD to my HDD via symlinks. I have successfully changed over the image of the folder which can be seen in the finder.

After removing the original folder the item is also removed from the sidebar, after creating the symlink I have added the folder back to the sidebar but have noticed that the default icons for such folders is no longer present and simply presented using a blank blue folder.

How can I get the original icons displayed in the sidebar?

  • What OS are you on? I can just upload the icon files. OR boot from a backup. though this is not considered "proper" anymore, in this case it seems to work (not so with applications any longer). Gett info on the backed up folder while booted from the backup, selecting the icon, but clicking on it (in the Get Info window) and making a new dir for each one in Home and pasting the right icon on it. The folder will then contain a "icon" file. You can also create a temp user and do the same thing, or even try to move the folders (but this gets 'unixy'). I saw nada interesting in '...finder.plist Commented May 16, 2013 at 15:29

4 Answers 4


Goto your Home Folder > Library > Preferences and delete the files:


If you can't find the files use this method: from the Finder menu bar, select Go > Go to Folder and copy the following line into the text box that opens:


Then, restart, or log out and in again.


Select Go > Go to Folder and copy the following line into the text box that opens:


Here is where you will find all the sidebar icons - .icns

Now you will have to manually change the icons for the respective folders by using Get Info on the folder that is in your sidebar and by dragging and dropping the icns file onto on the Inspector panel.

  • This solution did not work, it did make the download folder reappear in the sidebar automatically, but this I had already done myself by simply dragging the Downloads folder to the sidebar. It has not made the icon associated with Downloads reappear.
    – Imran
    Commented May 16, 2013 at 13:09
  • 1
    by doing this it only changes the folder icon within finder window and not the sidebar icons, what this has merely done is display the sidebar icon as the folder icon in the finder window.
    – Imran
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 19:06
  • This did not work for me on Yosemite. It changed the icon in the Finder "window?" area, but not in the sidebar. See screenshot. I'm interested in preserving the look of the sidebar. Does anyone have an answer on how to do that?
    – Stew
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 18:44

This is a lot easier than my comment, so I thought it was worthy of answer status:

  • go to /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources
  • there you will find:

    ApplicationsFolderIcon.icns* DesktopFolderIcon.icns DocumentsFolderIcon.icns DownloadsFolderIcon.icns LibraryFolderIcon.icns MoviesFolderIcon.icns MusicFolderIcon.icns PicturesIcon.icns PublicFolderIcon.icns SitesFolderIcon.icns*

  • open each one of these in Preview.app.

  • click the disclosure triangle so that you are only viewing ONE version (not all the sizes) in the sidebar of Preview. ( Don't worry, the other ones are underneath)
  • select the now only visible image in the sidebar (aka the Drawer inside applications)
  • copy
  • go to your Home folder and and select the folder who's original icon you just copied
  • Get Info by pressing ⌘-i
  • select the folder's normal un-decalled icon and paste
  • repeat for each folder.

* some people have an Applications folder in their Home folder, some do not.
* some have a Sites folder, some do not. Whatever is there will reflect your current OS, but
* will probably still have both of those for Legacy compatibility.

To Verify you have done this correctly, switch to Column View in your home folder, select one of the special folders, make the preview column and the window very large. If it's not pixelated, you'll be fine.

  • 1
    Thanks for the reply, however this is to change the picture of the folder (which I have done already). It seems that by doing this it does not get reflected on the sidebar icon for that folder which is what my question is for
    – Imran
    Commented May 16, 2013 at 23:45
  • So sorry! I got the the two reversed! Did you try creating a test user and changing the owner/permissions, then copying that dir over then moving the files into it? There might be some Extended attributes as well (type xattr -h on the commandline to check that out). Commented May 17, 2013 at 1:47

The method in this video works for me (10.9).

Below are the steps:

  1. Drag your folder to the sidebar to create a link.
  2. On the normal folder that have the icon on it, press Cmd-I, click on the icon, and press Cmd-C.
  3. Right click on the new link in the sidebar
  4. Click "Get info"
  5. Click on the folder icon at the top, and press Cmd-v
  6. Now the folder has an icon
  7. Drag the folder with Cmd and Option pressed to create an link the the fold
  8. The link will have the same icon as the folder

I am pretty sure none of these approaches actually works, at least in El Capitan. The best approach I have found is to keep the special folders in your home directory and sidebar, and symlink out the subfolders. So, e.g., I have a real Music folder in ~/, but inside that is a symlink to /Volumes/[external]/Music/iTunes/. That gets the 100Gb of iTunes content off my main volume but keeps the sidebar icon.

Less elegant but I don't think anything else works.

Note that if you already screwed up and deleted the special folder in your user directory, you can indeed su cp an empty special folder (e.g. ~/Music) from a new user you create, and it will work - even the permissions will probably automatically update, but check.

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