How to Change the Finder Dock Icon in Mac OS X

May 1, 2014 - 30 Comments

Change the Finder Dock icon in Mac O SX

The Finder smiling face Dock icon has been with Mac OS X since the very beginning, and the Finder face itself has been in Mac OS from it’s earliest origins as well. Some users may want to change the Dock Finder icon to something else for customization purposes, but the process is a bit more complex than simply changing an icon elsewhere on a Mac through the traditional Get Info approach.

This is a slightly advanced process that involves editing system folder documents, if you’re not comfortable with that idea, you probably shouldn’t try to change the Dock icons this way. Always back up your Mac before making any changes or adjustments to core OS folders.

Customizing & Replacing the Finder Dock Icon in Mac OS X

For the sake of this walkthrough, we’ll replace the default smiling Finder icon with a picture of a laptop from the bundled Mac hardware icons buried in OS X. Any other PNG image file will work, however.

  1. Have a PNG file that you want to use as the icon handy, name it “finder.png” for a regular Mac, or “finder@2x.png” for a Retina Mac – transparent PNG files that are at least 256×256 pixels work best
  2. From the OS X Finder, hit Command+Shift+G to bring up Go To Folder and enter the following path:
  3. /System/Library/CoreServices/

  4. Locate the file named “finder.png” and “finder@2x.png” (the second file is for retina Macs, not necessary on standard resolution displays) and make a copy of these to the Desktop or somewhere else, this will serve as a backup
  5. Drag & drop your new “finder.png” file that you want to use as the new icon into the Resources folder, authenticate the change and choose “Replace”
  6. Replace the Finder Dock icon

  7. Still in the Finder, hit Command+Shift+G again and this time go to the following path:
  8. /private/var/folders/

  9. In the Finder search box, type “” and choose ‘folders’ as the search parameter (that is, the current directory and all subdirectories)
  10. Trash the “” when it’s found
  11. Remove the Dock icon cache

  12. Now launch the Terminal app, found in /Applicaitons/Utilities/, and type the following to refresh the Dock:
  13. killall Dock

  14. The Dock will relaunch and show the new Finder icon, replacing the smiling face with whatever your choice was

Replaced Dock Finder icon with a custom icon

If you want to revert back to the default Finder Dock icon, simply use the Go To Folder keystroke again, then copy the backups you made of “finder@2x.png” and “finder.png” to the following directory again:


Now you just need to trash the icon cache file and relaunch the Dock. You’ll have your shiny smiling Finder happy face icon back as if it was never replaced.

If you’re feeling like customizing things even further, you’ll find the Dock Resources folder has many other icons to change, including the Trash icon and the indicator lights that appear under app icons in the Dock as well. Happy customizing!


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Customize, Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. nina says:

    I have an imac 2017, intel core
    i5 start disk SSD with monteray 12.6 system. apple system reports that I don’t have access to change system app icons.

    In my opinion, a command in the terminal will help… but I don’t know which one. Does anyone know?

    It is not possible to change the settings of my account so that I can read and write.

  2. Forgotten Trail says:

    Try changing anything in that folder with ADMIN as the USER with Mojave and you cannot do it. Locked out by Apple. Permissions issues.

    Update this please using the latest 2018 Mojave OS.

    ~ Forgotten Trail

    • Miami Nice says:

      You might need to disable SIP first, SIP protects the modern MacOS releases from modification by user.

      My Finder Dock icon is still changed in Mojave but it has been that way a long time, customized.

  3. Dennis says:

    On my Sierra, Command R is bringing up Internet Recovery only. csrutil disable (and csrutil enable, and csrutil status) are not terminal options in this mode. Mac has seized control and is making many customizing options increasingly difficult for users. Would LOVE to find a new csrutil disable workaround… or whatever the new directory is for system recovery!

  4. Phillip says:

    It says I don’t have the permissions to add an icon png to the resources folder and I don’t know how to change it.

    I am on Sierra.

  5. Evelyn says:

    Hi, I have multiple, do I just delete the first one or all of them?

  6. christian says:

    i am changing some system icons but there are some i can’t find
    pdf icon /png icon for example.
    can someone tell me where they are?
    they are not in the : /System/Library/CoreServices/

    i am using el capitan

    the main ones such as folders etc i have found and changed.
    thanks for help ( maybe indicate me a tutoriel )

  7. Matt Farr says:

    I can’t get this to work in El Capitan. Seems like they have locked it down so that you cannot replace the default finder icon.

  8. Cosmo says:

    Is there a hack for changing the generic system folder? This worked great but I replaced the icns file with a different image (with same name) but restarting/logging out/relaunching dock doesnt do the trick – I suspect there is a system icon cache that needs to be trashed maybe?
    Thanks for the Finder hack.

  9. Anoif says:

    I don’t usually comment on things but thank you SO much for this post. The detailed instructions are flawless and is the only one I found on the internet that actually worked. :)

  10. Dannie says:

    Terminal App isn’t selectable, what do I do? D:

  11. Julian says:

    Thank you :]

  12. Johnathon says:

    Does not work in Yosemite. Tried a number of times following the same instructions. And, now I can’t even get the original back.

    • gerp says:

      It does work to change Finder Dock icons in OS X Yosemite. But if it didn’t work, how could you not go back to the original if it was never changed? So yea, you just discredited your inaccurate statement.

      • Johnathon says:

        Hey Perg. I followed the instructions, saved off the original 2 .png files as described. After it didn’t work, I followed the instructions to restore. The icon on the dock is blank. I’m looking for help, not a smart ass comment.

        • Johnathon says:

          The file size for the icon I used was too large and would not render. It works now. Thanks for the original write-up.

          • hawkins says:

            Same issue in el cap. Finder now blank. nothing there. used 512×512 ping. Should I go to 256×256?

        • gerp says:

          So you will need to refresh the Dock cache again, follow the commands. Or restore from your backup you made and go back to normal OS X Dock

  13. superphilman says:

    Thank you. Very clear, and worked perfectly.

    Dam ugly Yosemite finder logo made me want to throw up.

  14. Liam says:

    i can’t seem to be able to trash the “”. It doesn’t go in and when i right click i dont get the option. Any ideas

  15. Make sure to use a lower-case ‘F’ when typing Finder, as a file name, or else non of this will work. Otherwise, super helpful.

  16. DB says:

    This works fine as long as you are not running TotalFinder. If you have TotalFinder, then you must change the icons in the contents folder of TotalFinder as well. Then restart Finder and TotalFinder. Once that is done, then go into TotalFinder Preferences and turn back on “Keep original Dock icon”. Voila, all done. Icon will finally be changed.

  17. RD says:


    I cannot find the file ‘’ in the specified folder. I am using OS X 10.6.8

  18. Mike Alessi says:

    Awesome tip. Do you happen to know how to get folder icons that you put on the dock to remain the folder icons in Mavericks? Default behavior is for them to change into the top item in the folder. So for example, I put the downloads folder on the dock, and rather than looking like a folder, the icon changes into whatever I most recently downloaded.

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