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Custom app icons that work in the Dock System
I'm sure most people have noticed by now that using the Show Info cut & paste method of changing an app's icon doesn't work quite as well as one would like. Specifically the app will revert to showing its original icon when in the dock. Here's how to change an apps icon(s) permanently...

To do this you may need IconComposer which can be found in /Developer/Applications after installing from the Developer CD. I say "may" because you can do it without this tool if you just want to substitute one app's icons for another's.

For this explanation we will give Sherlock the icons from Chess. Hey, its just an explanation.

Read the rest of this article if you'd like a step-by-step on replacing an app's icon more permanently than copy/paste appears to...

1) In the Finder, select Sherlock (at this point I suggest you duplicate Sherlock just to be on the safe side.)

2) Either click the RIGHT mouse button if you have one or hold down the Control key and click the only mouse button you have.

3) From the menu that appears select "Show Package Contents." A new window will open with a folder called "Contents" in.

4) Navigate to the Resources folder that is in the Contents folder. You will see a file called "Sherlock.icns". (If you have IconComposer you can double-click this file to open it up and see the icons. Click "Proceed Anyway" when you get the warning).

6) Open a new Finder window, find and select Chess, bring up the context-sensitive menu and choose "Show Package Contents."

7) Locate the file named "chess.icns"

8) Back in Sherlock's Resources folder, delete or rename "Sherlock.icns"

9) Copy "chess.icns" into Sherlock's Resources folder (where "Sherlock.icns" was) and rename it "Sherlock.icns".

10) Launch Sherlock and marvel at its new, completely inappropriate icon! By the way, you won't see the icon in Finder windows until you log out and log back in again.

That's it. If you have IconsComposer you can doble-click a ".icns" file to view and change its contents. For some reason it doesn't support pasting in images, you have to double-click one of the icons in the window and import an image file containing your icon art.

Some apps have other ".icns" files for associated documents which can be changed in the same way. I grabbed Music Player off the OS X Beta CD and gave Audion 2 all its icons.

Now I have a request. Anyone worked out how to locate and change other application resources like images etc.? Some are obvious but others, like all the icons displayed in System Preferences and the Music Player interface elements have eluded me, despite opening up various resource files in Interface Builder. Anybody know better?
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Possible Answer & Question
Authored by: DeusExMachina on May 08, '01 03:52:54AM

Well I remember seeing these things somewhere while poking around... If you look for .tiff files instead of .icns files, you can get one in


that seems to correspond with the one displayed by the preferences app. However, I'll admit that after a quick check, overwriting that file didn't seem to have any effect. It may require a logout to flush the image System Preferences uses, but I can't do one of those without abandoning this post :)

Now I also have a conundrum I'm hoping someone has solved before:

Suppose I got all professional about the icon making thing (heh) and actually created my own .icns from a 128x128 4 channel tiff file. This .icns file looks great in icns Browser or in IconComposer (is the former a beta thing? Seems they both perform the same function, almost) but whatever I do, I can't get it to appear in the finder! And I mean WHATEVER I DO! I tried copying and pasting... that's kinda difficult when there's no source to copy from: the .icns file doesn't give itself its own icon. I tried naming it the same thing as the target file (a .term file, FWIW) but with .icns on the end... that didn't work either. I got really pissed off and tried to define it as the icon for the build product of one of my Project Builder projects, and I couldn't even do THAT! (I can go into specifics if you think that's the right way to do it, and I'm just screwing it up) but anyway, I FINALLY got this icon to appear in the finder by making a brand new PB project for a cocoa app this time, and defining the icon in there.... but when I try to copy and paste from the resulting .app, that doesn't work either. To add insult to injury, viewing the icon in the finder made me want to make modifications, so I did, and now I can't even get it to appear on that hello world cocoa app anymore. I'm about to just give up here.

Having a .icns file in the guts of an application package is great and all, and it really simplifies changing app icons, but WTF are you supposed to do if you just want to change the icon on a FILE, and all you've got is a .icns?

Thanks for any help, love this site by the way.

(lover, poet, guy-who-can't-use-icons)

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Somewhat related Icon thingy....
Authored by: MiniD on May 10, '01 10:59:02AM

Hello there, I too (probably among everyone else who purchased OS X) have been messing around with the icons of items, and I have noticed when I pasted an icon, from another file that had the icon I wanted, in the get info window on a folder that I had created (which was also in my dock) the icon changed in the finder, but not in the dock... BUT then I had an idea... I just dragged the folder OFF the dock and readded it with the new icon and it worked fine. This might not work the same way for files though, from what I have been reading. I have also heard that for files... if you close the get info window that you are copying from... it won't work. Hope any of this helps.

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