How to Change Folder Color on Mac in 7 Easy Steps [3 Ways]

Key Takeaways
  • To change folder colors on Mac, use the Preview app to edit the default folder icon, find a colored icon online, or use a third-party app like "Folder Color."
  • Customizing folder appearance helps with organization and system aesthetics; methods include editing with the Preview app or using pre-colored images.
  • Mac offers simple folder color changes without external apps, differing from Windows, which may require third-party solutions; macOS also allows file organization with colored tags.

Users often want to personalize their PCs according to their preferences by changing the look and feel of the OS. However, macOS does not offer many options for customization, but there are still some ways to personalize the system, such as changing the colors of folders. This not only helps in organizing files better but also changes the overall aesthetic of the system.

How Do Folders Work on Mac?

In any computer, a file is the most common storage unit for data, be it documents, pictures, music, or apps. To organize these files, macOS allows you to segregate them into folders. These folders can perform multiple operations based on how you find your data to be stored conveniently.

To create a new folder, you can use the shortcut Shift-Command-N, select the files, and drag them into these folders. You use “Finder” on macOS to view and manage your folders. On Windows, this is called “File Explorer.”

Folders on macOS

For folders, you have some default, pre-defined set of useful folders listed in Finder. These include Documents, Desktop, Applications, AirDrop, and your Mac’s HD. All in all, the core functionality for folders is similar to that of Windows.

READ MORE: How to Make Files/Folders Undeletable in Windows? ➜

How to Change Folder Color on Mac

On a Mac, there isn’t a built-in way to directly change the color of folders. While you can’t modify the existing icon’s color, you can achieve a similar effect by replacing it entirely with one of a different color. This process involves editing the default folder image and applying it to the file.

Alternatively, you can also use an existing image from the internet if you can access one that suits your needs. If you’re looking for a more efficient method that saves time, there’s a paid option available. An app named “Folder Color” on the App Store essentially does the same thing for you.

  1. Change the color of the existing folder icon using the Preview app
  2. Use a suitable image from the internet.
  3. Go for a paid app, “Folder Color,” which automates this process.

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Method 1: Using the Preview App

In this method, the basic outline is to copy the image file of the folder icon into the Preview app and, from there, adjust its color settings. This will give you an image of the folder icon which, although seems identical on the outside, will have a different color applied. This image will then be set as the icon for the folder in question.

To change the icon color for a folder using the Preview app, follow the steps down below:

Step 1: Access the Folder’s Properties

First off, you will need to identify the folder you want to edit, and access its properties. You can do this by control+click or right clicking the folder icon.

  1. Right-click (or Control-click) the folder icon.
  2. In the context menu that appears, select “Get Info.
Accessing Folder Properties
A window will pop up displaying details about the folder, including its size, location on disk, and creation/modification dates. The default icon for the folder will also be visible in the top right corner of this window.
Folder Info (Properties) on Mac

Step 2: Copy the Default Folder Icon

Once you’ve opened the folder properties, the next step is to copy the icon image to clipboard. This is the image that will be edited later. To do this,

  1. In the Info (properties) menu, you’ll find the folder icon on the top left-hand corner.
  2. Click on this folder image. The icon will be selected (indicated by a blue outline).
    Select the folder icon in the top right corner.
  3. Copy this image. You can either use the keyboard shortcut (Command + C) or use the Menu Bar (shown in the reference image below).
Copying Folder Icon Image

Step 3: Open the Preview App

After your image has been copied, you will need to edit it inside the Preview app. This application comes pre-installed on all systems running macOS. To do this, you can either use Spotlight Search to quickly access the app (Command + Space), or go to Launchpad and search for “Preview.

Accessing Preview via Spotlight Search

Step 4: Paste the Image in Preview

In the Preview app, you’ll need to paste the image from your clipboard. You can do this using the menu bar at the top of the screen.

  1. In the Menu Bar, go to File and click on “New from Clipboard.
  2. The image files will be pasted to the Preview app.
Pasting the Copied Image in Preview

Step 5: Adjust the Image’s Color

 This is the main part where you will need to change the color of the image. To do this, you will need to use the Markup tool built into the Preview app.

  1. On the top right corner, look for a small icon resembling a marker’s tip — this is Markup tool. Click on it.
    Accessing the Markup tool in Preview
  2. A bar will appear. Click the “Adjust Color” icon within this bar.
    Opening the “Adjust Color” menu
  3. A menu will pop up, allowing you to edit the color to your preference.
    Edit your folder’s color in the “Adjust Color” menu
For a basic color change, use the “Tint” slider. However, for a more nuanced adjustment, use other sliders too, like “Saturation” and “Exposure.”

Step 6: Copy the New Folder Image

 Once you have changed the color of the folder icon, copy the image from Preview.

  1. Click on the image to select it.
  2. Use the keyboard shortcut (command + C) or the Menu Bar (as shown in the reference image below) to copy the image.

Step 7: Apply the New Image as the Folder’s Icon

 Now, go back to the directory where your folder was located and paste the new, edited image there.

  1. Right-click (or Control-click) the folder icon.
  2. In the context menu that appears, select “Get Info.
  3. Select the folder image in the top left hand corner.
  4. Use the keyboard shortcut (Command + V) or the Menu Bar to paste the image into the location of the older file.
Pasting the image to replace the older icon

After you have pasted the image, the folder’s icon will change to the newly applied color, as shown below.

The new folder icon

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Method 2: Using Pre-Colored Icons

The other method for changing folder icons is essentially similar to the one detailed above. However, the key difference is that you don’t need to adjust the color manually. Instead, you can find an image with the desired color online and paste it in place of the original icon.

  1. Locate a PNG image online that you’d like to use as your folder icon.
  2. Copy the image. (You can usually right-click and select “Copy” or use the keyboard shortcut Command + C.)
    Finding and copying a PNG icon from the internet.
  3. Open the folder’s properties by right-clicking on the folder and selecting “Get Info.
  4. Click on the small folder icon at the top left corner of the “Get Info” window to select it.
    Select the folder image to replace the existing icon.
  5. Paste the copied image by right-clicking and selecting “Paste” or using the keyboard shortcut Command + V.
    • The folder’s icon will be replaced with the PNG image.
      The new folder icon.
The main advantage of this method is that it allows you to not only change the folder’s icon image, but also use any kind of image as the icon.

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Method 3: Using Third-Party Apps

If you find the methods listed above too lengthy or want to automate the process of changing the colors of folders on your Mac, you can use third-party apps. Remember, though, that most apps on the App Store are paid applications, so you might need to spend some money out of your pocket to get the job done.

Third-Party apps on the App Store to change folder colors on Mac

Bonus: Using Colored Tags to Organize Files

On macOS, you can use a predefined set of colored tags to segregate and organize files effectively. The process is not as lengthy as changing the entire color of the folder, but it essentially serves the same purpose.

Tags add a small marker alongside the folder icon to easily identify the file. This way, you also have the option to individually view all files for a specific color in Finder.

Tags in macOS

Changing Folder Color: Mac vs. Windows

Changing folder colors on Mac is a relatively simpler process compared to Windows. For starters, you don’t need any external applications or services. On the other hand, Windows doesn’t have a built-in and definitive way to modify folder colors directly.

The method for setting or changing folder colors on Windows is similar to Methods 2 and 3 listed above. It involves either using an icon image from the Internet or a third-party app that essentially does this for you. Either way, you’ll need outside assistance.

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The process of changing folder colors and making them distinctive is straightforward on Mac. If you can follow the steps correctly, it’s possible that you won’t need to rely on any external services and will most likely find the color that matches your requirements for the kind of folder you want on your system.


What is the default color for a folder on a Mac?

The default color for any folder on macOS is usually light blue.

How to better organize my folders on Mac?

While changing the colors can be one way, you can also use tags, stacks or simply switching up the icon size, grid spacing and text size.

Can I use an image instead of a different color as the icon to my folder?

Yes, you can achieve this by following the Method 2 in the guide above.


Muhammad Qasim

Qasim's deep love for technology and gaming drives him to not only stay up-to-date on the latest developments but also to share his informed perspectives with others through his writing. Whether through this or other endeavors, he is committed to sharing his expertise and making a meaningful contribution to the world of tech and gaming.