How to Change Default App icons on macOS

If there’s one thing to hate about the new macOS Big Sur release, I’m sure most of you would agree that it’s the default app icons. The default app icons on Big Sur have received polarizing reviews; many users even describing them as outright “ugly”.

How to Change Default App icons on macOS

If you feel the same, you’ll be glad to know that Apple does provide a way to change the default app icons in macOS, and it’s fairly easy to do once you know.

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Set custom app icons on macOS Big Sur

Step 1: Collect custom icons for your apps in PNG format

Before you change the default app icons, you need to collect the custom icons that you’ll use as replacement icons for your apps on macOS.

You can do this from several sources. Many web-based icon repositories offer free downloads; while some may allow you to directly download icons in various formats, others might require you to sign up for a free account. Some of the popular icon repositories where you can download a variety of icons include, IconsDB, PNGTree, FlatIcon, Icons8, and more.

Ensure that you download your icon images in PNG format and store them in a distinct location on your Mac. Apple uses a unique format for its icons on macOS, and let’s just say it’s easier to convert and set up when your images are in PNG.

Step 2: Convert icons from PNG to ICNS

Apple uses a proprietary file format called the Apple Icon Image format (ICNS) for icons on macOS. To convert our downloaded icons, we can use a web-based PNG to ICNS converter tool. Here, we’ll use the free image converter tool provided by CloudConvert. The below steps will guide you to convert the PNG files using CloudConvert PNG Converter.

  1. On your Mac, navigate to the CloudConvert PNG to ICNS Converter web app.
  2. Click on “Select File” and browse for the downloaded icons in PNG format; you can select multiple PNG files at the same time. Alternatively, you can also drag and drop multiple PNG files into the web interface.
  3. Click “Convert” and wait for the conversions to complete.
  4. When the conversions are done, you can either download the converted files individually by clicking on the “Download” button adjacent to each file or download them all at once as a ZIP file by clicking on “All Files” from the bottom-right corner and selecting “Download All”.

Step 3: Set custom icons for macOS apps

Follow the steps below to change the default app icon for apps on macOS:

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  1. Open Finder on Mac, and navigate to the “Applications” folder.
  2. Select an app for which you want to change the icon. Right-click on the same, and choose “Get Info”.
  3. Drag the desired custom icon file (in ICNS format) that you’ve converted earlier from Finder to the app icon placeholder near the top-left corner of the Info panel.
  4. Close the Info panel when done.

The app icon should be changed to the new desired one and reflected throughout macOS. Repeat the same steps for all of the apps for which you want to change the default app icon.

Note: You can use a similar approach to change the icons of any file or folder on macOS. For details, check out Apple’s support article on the same.

Revert to default app icons on macOS

If you no longer wish to keep custom icons for your apps, it’s rather easy to revert to the original app icons. Follow the steps below to do so:

  1. Open Finder on Mac, and navigate to the “Applications” folder.
  2. Select an app for which you want to remove the custom icon. Right-click on the same, and choose “Get Info”.
  3. In the Info panel, select the app icon placeholder near the top-left corner, and hit the “Delete” key.
  4. Close the Info panel when done.

The app icon of the particular app should be reverted to the original one. Repeat the same steps for all of the apps for which you wish to revert the app icons to their originals.

By changing the default app icons, you’d probably do away with one of the biggest annoyances of macOS Big Sur. If this was a helpful tip for you, let us know in the comments below.

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