I’ve always used customized drive icons on my Mac even though the default drive icons are pretty good. At least the default drive icon is detailed. I just hate accepting the default Apple user interface on anything from my old G4 PowerBook to my current MacBook Pro, iPhone, and even iPad. I feel compelled to re-skin everything I can and tinker forever with those that everyone says I can’t . Where there’s a will, there’s always a way. As promised I’d like to take a look at some of the best minimal Mac drive icon sets and how you can use them to change the look of your desktop.
Changing your drive icons is pretty easy when you use an icon management application like CandyBar from Panic Inc. or IconBox from The IconBlock Ltd. I’ve written about both of these handy icon managers in the past and both have a free and functional trial version to download. PimpMyMac can show you the laborious manual way to change your Mac icons without using any application but I don’t recommend it for anything other than changing one or two. Go ahead and use one of the available tools.
First you need to download your favorite drive icon set, unpack the files and import them into your icon manager. I keep a collection or box for my favorite drive icons so I can easily switch depending how I want my desktop to look. Now run either tool and find the system customization area. All you have to do is drag and drop your favorite drive icons on each of the available drive types. There are 10 (or 11, SharePoint, is it a drive, is it a folder) drive types to change with these apps. The best sets will offer a unique icon for each of the major types including Firewire, USB, internal, external, removable, iDisk, Airport, Time Machine, server, and network. I highly recommend you use a set with drives that have unique glyphs (badges) for each of these types. This makes it easy to find your Time Machine drive on your desktop. As an added bonus you can also change the icons for your favorite SDRAM cards, thumb drives, and even CDs. You will find these are available for theming in your icon manager when they are mounted.
The hardest part is always “the list”. I always struggle with this step. It’s always hard to compile both a list of the very best icons (I prefer minimal styles) and their authors as well as dig up a working download. Thankfully the great icon sets never really go away and there is almost always a working link somewhere if you Google around enough. Actually that’s a part of measuring their greatness, seeing how much staying power they retain over time. So once again I’ve done some leg work for you. Here’s my list of some of the greatest replacement drive icons sets out there:
Obviously I am a minimalist when it comes to my icons (themes and wallpapers too, we’ve got tutorials for those coming too). If you are into the more colorful drive icon sets out there you will want to take a good look at the Uni drive icon set shiizun. These are great looking rounded drives that follow the Mac color scheme. I especially like the AirPort and iDisk icons. You can see a preview of them below, they are very sexy.
You don’t have to use drive icons at all either. You can try using any kind of icon for your drives once you’ve mastered the technique of using an icon management application to customize your icons. Below you see the Uni drives in action on a minimalistic desktop along with some random icon ideas for your drives. It’s a good way to assign a unique style to your drives and give you quick visual ques to what you store there. Anyway you like it there are good sets out there for you. The best place to start your search is right here on iconpaper.org. Start with the drive icons tag and you will find some great works. Now get your icon manager and start changing your drive icons. I promise you’ll like the look and won’t be at risk of blowing up your system. This is one of the safest mods you can start with. Enjoy!