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How to Change the Mac OS X Mail Dock Icon

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Quit Mail

Quit Mail

Heinz Tschabitscher
Wings spread to the flawless dentition and gliding gracefully through the majestic blue of Mac OS X Mail's standard Dock icon, the hawk is a no doubt familiar and welcome sight for many a Mail user.

Even the most welcome company can profit from some variation, at least now and then, however. If and whenever you find you have spent enough time gazing at the same picture continuously, you will delighted how easy it is to change Mail's icon, maybe to one you have downloaded.

Change the Mac OS X Mail Dock Icon

To furnish Mac OS X Mail with a different and custom Dock icon:

  • Ctrl-click on the Mail Dock icon.
  • Select Quit from the menu.
  • Ctrl-click on the Mail Dock icon again.
  • Now select Show In Finder from the menu.
  • Select Get Info from the Action drop-down menu.
    • In Mac OS X 10.6 and later:
    • Make sure Sharing & Permissions: is expanded.
    • Click the lock icon.
    • Authorize with your Mac OS X password.
    • Make sure Read & Write is selected for everyone.
  • Find the desired icon in Finder.
  • Again, select Get Info from the Action drop-down menu.
  • Click on the small icon in the info dialog of the icon file to highlight it.
  • Select Edit | Copy from the menu.
  • Now click on the small icon in the Mail Info dialog.
  • Select Edit | Paste from the menu.
    • In Mac OS X 10.6 and later:
    • Make sure Sharing & Permissions: is expanded.
    • Make sure Read only is selected for everyone.
    • Click the lock icon.
  • Close the Mail Info dialog as well as the icon info dialog.
  • Launch Mail.

Of course, you can also use icons from other applications by copying them from their info dialogs.

Restore the Default Mac OS X Mail Dock Icon

To bring back the default hawk icon to Mail:

  • Open the Mail Info dialog as described above.
    • In Mac OS X 10.6 and later:
    • Make sure Read & Write is selected for everyone following the steps above.
  • Highlight the small icon image in the dialog.
  • Select Edit | Cut from the menu.
    • In Mac OS X 10.6 and later:
    • Make sure Read only is selected for everyone.
  • Close the Mail Info dialog.

If Your Icon File Has No Preview

To convert a PNG, TIFF, GIF or JPEG image to the proper .icns format, you can use img2icns or pic2icon.

If you do have a .icns file but it still lacks the preview necessary to copy the icon to Mail, you can create it with icns2icon.

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