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Customize your icons on macOS 🔧
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README.md

customize-icons

Github Issues Pending Pull-Requests License

Use the ChangeIcons.command in this folder to customize and change your macOS app icons in a jiffy.

El Capitan introduced a new security policy preventing users from changing any system icon.

However, you can still continue to change your apps and volumes icons normally.

Apps like LiteIcon still work pretty well for this sort of thing, but it requires a lot of manual dragging.

If you're like me and enjoy using the Terminal to automate work-flows, I think you'll enjoy what's to follow.

Installation

Step 1 - Download Icons

DeviantArt is my go-to place for icons sets, but you can also try IconArchive for a broader range of options.

Step 2 - Edit Files

I include this command file in the repo under ChangeIcons.command

Now here comes the tricky part.

This command relies on a JSON file that is named icon-data.json and a UNIX Executable File called setfileicon.

All The Icons Folder Screenshot - 1

All The Icons Screenshot - 2

These files are both included in a folder called set_icon in the ZIP file provided in Step 1. The icon-data.json file looks something like this:

{
    "1Password 5.app":"1Password 5",
    "Alfred 2.app":"Alfred 2",
    "Amphetamine.app":"Amphetamine"
}

It is formatted with the name of the app first in quotes followed by a semi-colon and then the name of the icns file.

Edit this icon-data.json file to include your own apps or create it yourself using your favorite text-editor.

Here is how the JSON file for the Utilities looks like.

JSON file

It is case-sensitive, so make sure to type everything correctly to suit what the app is called and what you named the corresponding icns file.

When you are editing this file to add on your own apps, make sure there’s not a comma on the last line or there will be an error.

Now, using Terminal, type in the following: defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles YES.

Once you press Enter, this command will show all the hidden files on your Mac.

I would not recommend messing with any of these hidden files.

The reason Apple hides them is so that the user has less of a chance of messing things up.

To make the files hidden again later, type in the same command but with a NO at the end like this: defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles NO.

After that, type in killall Finder into Terminal for the command to restart the Finder and have the hidden files be revealed in your Finder.

Show Hidden Files Command in Terminal

Now that you have your Finder revealing all the hidden files - in the folder where you have all your icons properly named, copy and paste the folder set_icons from the ZIP file mentioned in Step 1, and rename it to .set_icons.

Adding a period in front of the folder name makes it hidden and you will therefore not be able to see it anymore.

It looks exactly like the .set_icons folder already included within the folder called Utilities that can be found in the ZIP file.

Utility Sub-Folder

So if you want to change your Utility icons as well, the .set_icons folder located in the sub-folder Utilities already has the json file with all the necessary modifications.

The only difference between the ChangeIcons.command within the All The Icons folder and the ChangeUtilityIcons.command located within theUtilities folderis that on Line 36, the app path is listed asapp_path = “/Applications/Utilities/#{key}”`.

Step 3 - Edit Command

Now you probably have something like the following:

  • a folder called All The Icons with
    • all the icons you want to replace your old ones (in icns format)
    • the ChangeIcons.command that was included in this ZIP file
    • a hidden sub-folder called .set_icons with
      • a modified icon-data.json file to include your own personal apps
      • the setfileicon UNIX executable file

At this point, if you’ve done everything right, you can “hide” your hidden files again in your Finder by executing the command defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles NO in Terminal.

Make sure to execute killall Finder as well so that your Finder restarts and shows the changes.

Now go ahead and click the ChangeIcons.command to change all your icons simultaneously.

ChangeIcons.command in Terminal

You will be prompted to enter your password and walla you have all your snazzy new icons in place in seconds!

Troubleshooting

  • You tried to edit the command files and now have a syntax error, like in the form of quotes - just make sure to use straight quotes.
  • You have a syntax error in your icon-data.json file, like a comma on the last line.
  • You forgot to include a certain app in your icon-data.json file and so the icon does not change when you execute the command.
  • An app is locked and, therefore, the icon cannot be changed. To unlock an app, go to the app, right click,  Get Info. Uncheck the Locked button.

Locked App Error In Terminal

Locked App - Dropbox

Contributing

This is the icon_data.json. This contains all the necessary information the Unix executable file setfileicon will need to change your Mac App icons. You will never be able to see either of these files because they are hidden in a system folder called .set_icons. To be able to view and edit these files, you will have to run the following 2 commands in Terminal to temporarily reveal all hidden folders/files:

$ defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles YES
$ killall Finder

To undo this, enter the following into Terminal:

$ defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles NO
$ killall Finder

On the left we have the name of the Mac App with the .app extension.

On the right we have the actual name of the icon we want to use for that Mac App except without the extension of the image which should always be a .icns extension

{
    "1Checker.app": "Calibre",
    "1Password 5.app": "1Password 5",
    "Alchemize.app": "Alchemize",
    "Alfred 2.app": "Alfred 2",
    // and so on
}

So if we wanted to add an icon for the Ember Mac App, then we would just add the following line right after the line that has EasyImageConverter (so that it stays in alphabetical order):

    "Ember.app": "Ember",

There would have to be a file called Ember.icns in the directory and the user would need the Ember.app installed on their Mac's Applications directory for this icon change to actually work.

If Ember wasn't installed, then the script would just skip that line.

To submit a successful pull request, you have to do the following:

Credits

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