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How to Customize System Icons in Mac OS X [Mac Tip]


After a while those standard Mac OS X icons can get boring. There are a few programs out there that allow you to change your icons such as CandyBar, ShapeShifter, and LiteIcon. CandyBar and ShapeShifter may be out of your price range costing about $13 and $20, respectively. Today I will show you how to use LiteIcon which is available as a free download. Read on to find out how to change your icons and also discover where to download some fun replacement icons.

Note – LiteIcon is known to be compatible with Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger), use at your own risk if you are running 10.5 (Leopard).

Update: A new Leopard-compatible version of LiteIcon is available for download here.

LiteIcon Interface

LiteIcon is easily downloaded here, and after installing and opening this application you’ll see an interface that looks like this
LiteIcon Main
You have the option to replace many of your standard OS X icons, and there are plenty of options out there for you to choose. Now the question is where do I find my replacement icons?

Free Icon Downloads

Two sites that provide free downloads of icon packages are IconFactory and InterfaceLift. Both allow you to search for and download sets of icons that can help brighten any Dock and/or Finder. Here are some nice options available from IconFactory:





There are also quite a few festive options to “decorate” your computer for different holidays:


Change Your Icons Using LiteIcon

I used some of the free services described above and successfully downloaded some sleek new icons and saved them in an appropriately-named folder on my Desktop. Now suppose I want to change my old “Finder” Dock icon. With LiteIcon open to the Dock icon tab I just click-drag-and-drop my new and improved icon-of-choice from the Desktop folder to the LiteIcon interface:


Change whatever icons you like, and to see your changes click the ‘Relaunch Finder’ button in the top right corner of the LiteIcon interface and your Dock will change before you eyes. Check out these screen captures of my Dock to see before and after shots:

Lite Icon Dock Before
Lite Icon Dock After

Now suppose you are like me and enjoy the Holiday themed icons. Come November 1st you are probably tired of the Jack-O-Lantern that has served as your Home icon for the past month and want to move on to a friendly Tom Turkey. You can simply download another new set of icons and re-do the drag-and-drop process described above. If you ever feel like you went overboard with your new icons and you want those old standards back? With LiteIcon open, simply click File-Restore all icons and your standard Mac OS X icons will reappear–after relaunching Finder, of course.

I hope you enjoy your new icon freedom; now go have fun finding some new favorites! Hmm, maybe this new icon idea would work well as a Mac OS X Prank!

Have something to add? Send me a message on twitter or leave a comment below.

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