Using Those Application Icon Images … Anywhere!

11 years ago in Articles, How do I?, Tutorials by Brent | 16 Comments


Have you ever wanted to use an Mac Application Icon in a presentation or a design (as long as it’s not conflicting with some crazy copyright law)? We’ve all done the screen snaps and hack jobs. Some have even been able to navigate through the huge App package file folder and find the icon files. Others hack away at the icon in some image editor and get stuck settling for a near-close representation. I was fortunate enough today to stumble upon a nifty trick that saves me quite a bit of time and effort so I thought I’d share my new found wisdom with the rest of the planet. Here’s a quick and easy way to get those icons in whatever size there is available.

Small Disclaimer: This appears to only work on OS X 10.4 and above

Quick Glossary: CMD = The Apple Key

You may use Preview for a quick view of something you downloaded off the internet but it does have more uses than just “previewing”. This little trick is quite possibly one of the most useful tips I have here on iBAM. I just wish I would have discovered it a long time ago. Would have saved me a lot of effort!

1. Find the Application/Copy it’s icon. Right Click (or Control+Click) on the app icon and choose “Get Info”. A window will come up with the Application information. At the top you will see the application name and icon. Click it, it will highlight. Copy (CMD+C) the icon to the clipboard. (This update provided by: Austin Baker – Thanks Austin!)


2. Open Preview I do this with spotlight (CMD+Spacebar and then typing “pre” usually will find it for me). You can open it up from your Applications folder though (since you’re already in there).

3. New From Clipboard Once Preview is loaded, create a new document from what you have on the clipboard. (File > New From Clipboard or CMD+N). This will then load in all of the sizes of that program’s icon into the preview window. If the program has multiple sizes of icons, they will be presented on the right in a sidebar. You can choose whatever size you need for your usage.

4. Save As… From the File menu, select “Save As…” (or CMD+Shift+S) and you can then choose the format and location of where you want to save the image file.


I personally like a PNG file with Alpha so I can then use the icon seamlessly in an image I am preparing using Photoshop (my program of choice, but you can use whatever program you choose of image editing)

In minutes flat, I am designing away with a nice clean image file for whatever use I can think of. Of course, if you’re not interested in using the icon for something, it’s still a great way to get a closer look at those 512×512 versions of some of your favorite OS X icons.

Here’s the final image I whipped out for demo purposes. I can’t wait to use this technique again. Good times!


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