Get Color Sidebar Icons Back in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Finder Windows

Aug 25, 2011 - 127 Comments

Color Sidebar icons in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion

OS X Lion brought greyscale icons to the Mac OS X Finder window sidebar, but if you’d rather have some color back in your desktop window sidebars, you can get this done easily through a third party plugin.

If you’ve been following some of our other Lion tips, you may already have SIMBL installed, otherwise it’s a small download.

One oddity about this solution is that you may need to kill the Finder again to bring the color icons back after a full system reboot, otherwise this works trouble free.

If you ever want to get the grey icons back, you just need to remove the ColorfulSidebar.bundle file from the SIMBL plugins folder and then relaunch the Finder again.

On a somewhat related note, you can also bring back the personal folders in your OS X Lion Finder window sidebars. Those icons will gain color again too.


Related articles:

Posted by: William Pearson in Customize, Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. BenyC says:

    I was working in regular job last 11 years and saved nothing. Now i am working online, quit my regular job, and make average $4800. How? Check this: ˙ţh

  2. juan says:

    Hi, i just made a solution for that just made a simple Automator Application with a terminal script shell executable. just open Automator is located in /Applications/ and choose Application and find a shell just type shell or command, drag it to the right and type Killall Finder, erase the text that maybe you encounter there. save it in documents or whereer you prefer, then go to system preferences and go to user accounts, go to launch items and click on the + icon and look for the new app just created, if you want you can check the box of hide the app. thats it.

    enjoy it!

  3. greypelican says:

    Many thanks. Glad to have found this tip and finally reclaim some colour into my Finder.

  4. Brand new version here.. (
    This one is looking good :)

    (SideEffects Developer)

  5. allsmooth says:

    if anybody is having problems getting this to work with Mountain Lion, make sure you have the latest version of SideEffects (which is version SideEffects1.8.5.1) at the time of this post.

    At first, using Mountain Lion and this, the icons would disappear. After uninstalling SideEffects and reinstalling the version I mentioned above, it all works great!

  6. Lexxie says:

    iTunes 10.7: this color icons method is not as harmless as is presented. iTunes 10.7 gets a bit crippled and loses its own icon, after reversing the rscr files the iTunes remains a bit crippled and requires to be reinstalled completely.

  7. cabalist says:

    Also a “WOW”.

    I get to mark ONE of the things that I hate about Lion off of my list thanks to YOU!

    I really appreciate this.

    And I am running 10.7.4 fyi.

  8. Mike Verble says:

    I used this method and loved the color icons on the Sidebar in Finder with Lion. I upgraded to Mountain Lion tonight and now I have NO icons on the Sidebar in the Finder. How do I restore them for Mountain Lion?

  9. Erik Hoffman says:

    WOW, you are awesome

    Work for me a treat


    Who are you???????

  10. Du says:

    Relaunch script is very good. Thank you so much for your sharing.

  11. fishsticks says:

    To restart finder, hold down the Option key, then CTRL or right click the Finder icon in the Dock and select “Relaunch” at the bottom of the list

  12. […] you want color icons back in your OS X Finder window sidebar but don’t want to deal with the existing procedures of manually installing SIMBL and the other components, grab SideEffects instead. SideEffects is a […]

  13. noc says:

    OK, worked like a charm! Any such fix for Apple Mail? I mean for the icons across the top of the window…

  14. plugz says:

    thx for the tip, i dont feel colorblind anymore !

  15. noc says:

    I don’t have a SIMBL folder in Application Support. Where do I find this?

  16. quantize says:

    What a shame this doesn’t work in 10.7.3

    Lion is the fugliest OSX Apple have ever done…what a massive fall from grace…yeh sure you wanna converge everything to an iOS style, but this IS NOT the way u do it..its a friggin DESKTOP OS

    Massive dropping of the ball by Apple..longtime user and extremely dissapointed..back to snow leopard.

  17. Xaime says:

    It works, but only until I restar the computer :(
    any idea why?

    I want my colours Back!

  18. […] did install a hack to get the colored icons back in my sidebar windows. See this post on OSX Daily to explain. It’s super easy, and has not presented any problems as of […]

  19. NMH says:

    Great fix. Thanks. Running 10.7.2 on my new Mac and that gray issue was one of the first things I noticed… Have not tried restart yet. Mac user since 1986. Norm in Texas.

  20. dsg says:

    doesn’t work on 10.7.3 they show but soon as you logout the login there back to stock :'(

  21. rentahippie says:

    Oh thanks you so much I been hate lion and this was one of the reasons. I need to fix the rest of them now.

  22. Neal says:

    I find that Simbl unexpectantly quits every 15 min or so.
    Any suggestions?

  23. Dave says:

    Thanks! worked fine exactly as instructed!, I rebooted then killed Finder and reopened it. (MBA 13.3″ i7 latest Lion OS X 2/12)

  24. smx87 says:

    I’m having an increasingly terrible problem relating to this. when working the screen blinks while moving between spaces, which also seems to make finder consume a vast amount of memory, desktop is visible through windows and desktop items disappear. Though sometimes when i boot and find that the sidebar is in its original dull grey state the problem doesn’t exist. I’m on Lion 10.7.2. Can you help me please to resolve this problem or guide me through removing all the necessary files and folders to completely remove it.

    much appreciated smx

  25. OSXGirl says:

    Yay, this worked like a charm! And now I can use CandyBar to change the icons again. Thank you!

  26. artknox says:

    Hey guys,
    As you may know, or will find out, the icons go back to grey when you restart or boot up Lion. To get the colours back you need to relaunch Finder.
    To get around this, you need to set the Finder to relaunch at every startup. Best and easiest way to do this is to download the script from user Jocelyn above. Here’s the link:
    Once you have it, move it somewhere you’ll keep it for good like Applications.
    Go to System Preferences > Users and Groups > Login Items > click on the + and look for the script and add it > check the box to have it run at every start up.
    That oughta’ do it.

  27. I’m going to be a broken record here, so I might as well start with a “thank you” to all the great people that brought us this excellent tip.

    Now the broken record part: How do we make this permanent?

    I’m really bummed that Apple doesn’t have a simple option to check in the preference panel regarding this and other changes in Lion. It would be great to be able to revert back to the “classic” look if we don’t like Apple’s new design for the OS. I’ve already left them a feature request. Hopefully, I won’t have to pay $30 for the upgrade :)

  28. woj says:

    Oh my gosh! Badabing. I feel like I put on glasses for the first time. I can see so clearly now. No more dropping files on the wrong app to open. Thank you so much!!!!

  29. Ale says:

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No more gray in my MBP!!!!!

  30. Slowboy says:

    So nice to have this back. So ANGRY that they ever did it in the first place! At least they should’ve made it an option. What would’ve been so wrong with having a radio button in prefs? Grey? Not grey.
    NOT GREY!!!!!

  31. David in Delhi says:

    Worked flawlessly. Thanks so much!

  32. indezoo says:

    it worked for me…thank you so much for sharing!!!

  33. Mike says:

    This is great! However I have a question: Has anyone figured out how to change the gray icons in Apple’s Mail program? I hate those damn gray icons SO much. If I can’t figure out a way to fix that I may just switch to Thunderbird – at least they don’t force users to look at an awful bland gray color.

  34. Katbel says:

    Thanks a lot! It works!!!!
    I was tired to be color blind

  35. Jack says:

    Thanks sooooooooooooo much, finally I can use the finder again without ruining my eyes looking for everything. What the f. possessed apple to change to monochrome?

    btw, dev needs to put a donate button, I ll gladly help someone making such a nice gesture.

  36. […] Yes. You can get the color in the sidebar icons here. […]

  37. […] 8-25-11: OSX Daily posted a way to get colored icons back in the Finder using an app called SIMBL and a plug in. I […]

  38. Jo! says:

    thank you so much.

    – Would there be a work-aroundto change it permanently systemwide, like iTunes and other apps with a sidebar
    – will the changes still be there after an update?

  39. daniel.dizzy says:

    thanks for the tweak ur good

  40. […] nervous. But having color on the sidebar is worth it. You can find all the info for doing this at OS X Daily along with installation […]

  41. Charly says:

    Hey, I am really happy about this. I have been using it for a while now. Today I updated and restarted my machine and it reverted back to the grey color. Any kind of help would be much appreciated. Thanks

  42. dobes says:

    Thank you, thank you! So much easier to find items on *ahem* Finder now! And prettier, too.

  43. Garry Anderson says:

    For me, I think Apple should provide a checkbox for classic operation for everything they changed in Lion. My solution for the loss of colour in all instances is to NOT upgrade to Lion until they have corrected their oversight. Perhaps everybody should not upgrade to Lion until Apple addresses the issue. It would be interesting to see what effect that would have on their sales, wouldn’t it?

    • Jacques says:

      None. They don’t make money on the OS. They make it on the hardware. And all new Macs ship with Lion, and all the currently shipping MacBooks and Mac Minis can’t even be downgraded.

      Apple has no interest any longer in Mac OS X. They have committed so many fundamental errors in this OS. They seem only to care about iOS.

      A really pity, because it used to be an excellent product.

  44. tcart says:

    if your don’t want to use terminal to relaunch Finder just hit CMD +ESC tabs to bring up Force Quit window, scroll over Finder and the “Force quit’ tab changes to ‘Relaunch’
    Works perfect for me! ..I’m still scared of Terminal ;-)

  45. Jocelyn says:

    There’s an easier and cleaner way top make the finder relaunch on every boot, use a launchagent plist.

    I have two available for download (one for regular use and one for people using totalfinder) here:

    cheers :)

  46. […] many people have already written (and made youtube videos too) about how to use the bundle, so this post is just for on additional […]

  47. […] ที่มา OSX Daily รีวิว Pocket RPG เกมส์ RPG เล็กๆ มันๆ สมชื่อ /* […]

  48. […] you want to restore colour icons in the Finder follow the instructions here. The usual caveats apply. SIMBL has caused problems in the past as it is an unsupported hack for […]

  49. […] flat and grey, did I mention grey. UPDATE: you can get the colour back by following instructions here.• Reverse scrolling, on a touch interface yes (feel completely natural on my iPad), but with a […]

  50. Anonymous says:

    This is so great – thanks for the tip!

  51. […] that's pretty easy to fix, and ZDnet has a few good ways to do it. This SIMBL plugin will put a little color back in those icons, if you like, and you can do a little plist tweaking in […]

  52. […] that’s pretty easy to fix, and ZDnet has a few good ways to do it. This SIMBL plugin will put a little color back in those icons, if you like, and you can do a little plist tweaking in […]

  53. Chris says:

    This was pure gold!

    I like to use colors to quickly identify the items under favorites (and elsewhere), and the gray was really a pain in that regard.

  54. Tony says:

    Sorted! main library not user library.

    Now how about colourful icons in mail app?

  55. […] Get colour Sidebar icons in Lion […]

  56. Jeff says:

    Can’t find the colorfulsidebar site/file anywhere… is the site gone or just swamped?


  57. Dominic says:

    Yes worked great, happiness ensued all day…until I restarted and they reverted. This happen to anyone else?

  58. Michael Eck says:

    Brilliant! Worked perfectly. Thanks for the tip.

  59. Cara says:

    When I download SIMBL I can’t find it’s files anywhere. Colorful Sidebar downloaded fine but can’t find SIMBL anywhere!!

  60. Dave says:

    I moved the SIMBL to other library than the one it installed itself in, works now, sometimes you have to relaunch the finder twice (mere seconds) – so not yet permanent better than the gray anyday. Alternative is using Path Finder or Forklift apps as partial replacement for finder – they are both very worthy beasts. Those who chastise we gray-dislikers should fade to it…
    THANKS FOR THIS FIX! If God wanted a gray sidebar…

  61. Frank says:

    I have tried to install SIMBL several times and it does not show up. I am running Lion

  62. Jenny says:

    Ditto – I’d love a way to make the changes permanent, rather than have to re-start the Finder every morning.

    Can someone write an Automator/AppleScript that can be put in the “launched at login” user panel?

  63. ChrisR says:

    This works great in Finder until, as others have pointed out, you restart. Is there any way to make this a permanent change? I can’t believe there isn’t a way to customise on a permanent basis, this most ugly and anti-user-interface feature in Lion.
    There must be some wizzo guy out there who can tweak it?

  64. Bill says:


  65. Brandon says:

    Woohoo!! It worked!
    I ran into a problem after installing SIMBL. The folder wouldn’t show up in my Finder. I had to open Finder, hit CMD+Shift+G and type “/Library/Application Support/SIMBL” (without the ~ in front) in order to get to the folder).
    Thanks so much for this!

  66. Ravi says:

    Excellent. Works like a charm and brightens up finder windows. Can also home into the right icon without searching(after all humans are visual beings).

    Frank says:
    August 26, 2011 at 3:38 pm
    What an absolute waste of time! Good grief!

    Take a moment to enjoy the little pleasures in life. As you rightly say, Life is too short.

  67. Frank says:

    What an absolute waste of time! Good grief!

  68. media_lush says:

    thought I’d add that this didn’t work for me either

    • media_lush says:

      oops, put the bundle into the SIMBL folder – should have put it into the actual plugin folder there…. now it works!!

  69. […] elements and icons, some people like the change and others don’t. We just showed you how to get color icons back in the OS X Lion Finder sidebars, and in the comments, Perez Fox posted a resource file that works to bring the color sidebar icons […]

  70. Bart says:

    As soon as I changed the icons back to the coloured version, I noticed it made me much more happy with Lion than I was up till now! However, same problem as Prescott. All the icons are still grey in the Save and Open dialogue boxes.

  71. bliss says:

    i can’t to leave the icons of finder to color,

    i need to this definitively, please.

  72. I can’t seem to get the colour back in the Save and Open dialogue boxes. Anyone else had this problem?

  73. Imran says:

    Installed and beautiful color icons but after restart system again grey icons…..!!! Any update or I missed any installation…?


    • Imran says:

      After “killall Finder” in Terminal… again color icons. Every time I have to do this terminal action at system restart…?

      • M says:

        Yes, as mentioned in the article it’s a quirk with SIMBL. You could always make a small startup script to kill the finder automatically though.

    • word is bond says:

      If you don’t feel like launching Terminal every time or writing a script, you can just press Cmd+Opt+Esc to bring up the force quit menu, select finder and press “relaunch”

  74. Mulyono Herman says:

    Nice, now my finder has color again .. many thanks for the tip :D

  75. MizuInOz says:

    Interesting turn of events in regard to this “hack”… when I did a disk repair with Disk Utility – all was still good. Then I did a full-on maintenance with the Lion version of Onyx and all was grey again on start-up. I did a “killall Finder” in terminal and wa-laa (sp) when the Finder rebooted, all the colour was back. Maybe it is because we spell colour here with a “u”.



  76. MizuInOz says:

    Interesting turn of events in regard to this “hack”… when I did a disk repair with Disk Utility – all was still good. Then I did a full-on maintenance with the Lion version of Onyx and all was grey again on start-up. I did a “killall Finder” in terminal and wa-laa (sp) when the Finder rebooted, all the colour was back. Maybe it is because we spell colour here with a “u”. ;)


  77. But now that enterprise is going after Apple the grey works really fine.

  78. Richard says:

    Fantastic – Love it! Just done the same for iTunes too!!
    Thanks again and again and again!

  79. Jaco says:

    This is not working for me. After a full shutdown and restart the changes don’t stick.

  80. Darren says:

    Thank you for passing this on. Apple made some nice design tweaks in Lion but also some horrible, horrible choices. Which is it? Is the UI “getting out of the way” of the content? Or is it going skeumorphic and being quite happy to be the star of the show, as in Address Book and iCal? The thing about the Finder sidebar icons is that they are NOT a distraction from the content. In the Finder, they *are* the content. Glad to have the color back.

    Now we just need to find a way to make the sidebar icons regain their color in Open/Save dialogs.

    • jamin says:

      oh? I am about to download and install this thing and I assumed it would also fix the open/save dialogue box… hmm, most of my “quick nav” use for the side bar are coincidentally in said “open/Save” dialogue boxes. dang.

      and like they all say, we need those devices backup on top. Darren, i’ve been a huge super user of macs since 2001 and this is the first time i’ve been pissed about apple’s choices in os design. I agree with everything you’ve just said up above. i’m glad to have my colors back.

  81. duds says:

    Awesome, thanks for this tip. This shouldn’t have been left out by Apple.

  82. Jaco says:

    Nice SIMBL plugin. A snap to install especially if you had previously installed SIMBL. I wonder if Apple was going for a ‘minimalist’ look with Lion? which doesn’t bother me.

  83. Dean says:

    Works like a charm.

    Thanks for all the ongoing Lion tips, they’ve been great. Keep it up!

  84. Rob says:

    You are my hero of the day. Thank you !!!

  85. […] First, and perhaps most importantly for me, there’s now a way to get your coloured icons back in Finder’s sidebar! It’s done via a SIMBL plugin. Dead simple to use. Via OS X Daily, this post has all the details and downloads. […]

  86. Albert says:

    Will this work with Snow Leopard?

  87. Kent Allard says:

    Thank you!!!

    Now does anyone know how to do this with the current version of iTunes?

  88. Robert Elliott says:

    Yes, thank you developer and for notifying us all. I hate the bland icon color…or lack of.

  89. Cristian says:

    this doesn’t work for me!

  90. THANK YOU!!!! I knew it would it would take someone with skills to create a third-party workaround. So relieved I can’t even tell you.

    Now if there was only a way to get Devices back on top with Places/Favourites next in line…

  91. rascal01 says:

    When I enter ~/Library/Application Support/SIMBL/Plugins/ I get an error back saying that “the folder can’t be found”. I really hope I can get it to work because I’m not a big fan of the greyscale icons too.

    • rascal01 says:

      Never mind, when I searched for the folder manually I found it and got it to work. Thanks! That’s really a great tip.

      • guoke says:

        When I enter ~/Library/Application Support/SIMBL/Plugins/ I get an error back saying that “the folder can’t be found”,so I searched for the folder manually but I cannot found it ,why?where is the finder?

  92. Russell Tolman says:

    Super tips thanks so much. I really hated the gray.

    • ro1960 says:

      I too am glad someone found a workaround for this. Thank you for posting it.

      However my sidebar icons revert to grey, I believe when restating the computer. I tried to lock the ColorfulSidebar.bundle file but it doesn’t help.

      • ro1960 says:

        I add this : the ColorfulSidebar.bundle only affects the Finder windows. It doesn’t colorize the open/save dialog boxes. Too bad. :-(

        • Ben Katz says:

          In my case, it didn’t work even when I took all of the recommended steps….
          Very disappointed

          • dpyakurel says:

            Me to same here as you have experienced Ben.
            Guys, is there any solutions ?

          • Rick Wagner says:

            I am not able to locate through Finder or searching my computer for hours the appropriate folder /Library/Application Support/SIMBL/Plugins/. I followed another posters suggestion to drop the tilde but still can’t find it. Can anyone tell me the best/easiest way to locate it? Would love to apply this to my Mac on Lion. Thanks,

    • I hated the gray also and this changed it on the Sidebar, but not on the top bar where I have the Delete button, Get Info and New Folder icons.

      I’d love to figure out how to re-colorize those icons on the top of a Finder window

      • Robert Brodie says:

        I too would love to have colour available to make me faster as icons are easier to discern. And have a more enjoyable experience. This is why I have liked mac forever and now its turning bleak and pathetically uniform.

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