How to use custom app icons on macOS Big Sur

With the release of macOS Big Sur, Apple redesigned all of its stock Mac app icons with new colors and a new square shape. As such, many third-party applications have also redesigned their icons to match the new Big Sur aesthetic. Some of these icon changes have proven to be controversial, but macOS Big Sur actually makes it easy to use custom app icons. Here’s how it works.

Where to find custom Mac app icons

A new macOS Icon Pack website has emerged on the web with nearly 3,000 different icons from which to choose. There are icons for a wide variety of third-party apps, such as Adobe apps, Microsoft apps, Spotify, Twitter, and much more.

The macOS Icon Pack website also includes icons for Apple apps such as GarageBand, Pages, and Numbers. Apple allows you to change app icons for some but not all of its applications. For example, you can change the GarageBand icon, but you can’t change the icons for things like Music, Safari, or Messages.

There are other sources for custom Mac app icons as well, including the macOS Icon Gallery, Gumroad campaigns, and more.

How to use a custom Mac app icon

Whereas things are a bit trickier on iOS, it’s actually incredibly easy to change a Mac app icon. In this example, we’ll be changing the Slack icon to one to that matches the Big Sur aesthetic and is more Dark Mode-friendly.

  1. Open the Finder
  2. Navigate to your Applications folder
  3. Look for Slack
  4. Choose Slack and hit CMD + I or right-click and choose “Get info”
  5. Drag the icon you download (it should be in .icns format) to the small icon in the “Get Info” window in the upper-left corner
    1. Alternatively: Copy the new icon, click into the small icon preview, then paste it

One important thing to note is that you’ll need to fully close the app and reopen it for the icon change to take effect. And to revert to the stock icon, simply repeat the above steps, but hit click into the small icon preview and hit delete.

Are there any applications for which you plan on changing the icon? Let us know down in the comments!

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Thu Dec 10 , 2020

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