Extract an application’s icon

Written by Vivian in Tutorials Mac

Ever wondered how you can extract an application’s icon?
This tutorial is designed to help you struggle through an application’s hidden files (just kidding, it’s pretty easy) in order to extract a single, elusive icon.

It’s straightforward, beginner friendly, and quick.

Experience required customizing: none
Time needed: less than 2 minutes

In this tutorial, we’re going to use SlipCover as the example, an awesome freeware application that allows you to create custom folder icons for tv shows, movies, etc

The file type we’re dealing with is .icns, which is, in sum, an Apple image file that all applications use to display their icon.

Step 1
Open a new Finder window
Step 1

Step 2
Go to your Applications folder (or wherever else the app whose icon you want to extract is found) and select the app. Here I’ve selected SlipCover.
Step 2

Step 3
Right click (or Control-Click) on the application, and click “Show Package Contents”. Applications are packages, bundles of code and resources, and here we’re going to be taking a look at SlipCover’s innards to get to its icon.
Step 3

Step 4
Now we’re going to open a bunch of folders to get where we need to be. Switch to Column view, as this should make things more clear. Then, successively click the Contents and Resources folders as displayed in the picture below.
Step 4

Step 5
Switch to Cover Flow, as this will make what we’re looking for much clearer, and sort by “kind” in the list below the cover flow box. We’re searching for the ICNS file that looks like the application icon, and what do you know…
Step 5

Step 6
Now that we’ve got our icon, drag it to your desktop or wherever else! Have fun customizing!
Step 5

Final preview of SlipCover’s application icon, in beautiful 512×512 resolution. (icns file)

Closing words:

Like I told you, quick and easy!  Most apps have their icns named after them. If you were going about extracting iTunes’s icon, the filename would be something like itunes.icns.

I hope this tutorial cleared up what’s been a commonly asked question among Mac customization junkies!



  1. Johan says:

    You can also copy the application and click cmd + N in preview. So you can save the picture

  2. Steve says:

    That’s true too! This can also be used to replace an app’s icon or a folder’s icon, but it hasn’t been as effective in 10.6 as it was in Leopard.

  3. Mark says:

    Hi I’ve just discovered SlipCover and love the look of the icons it produces, is there any way to use them within iTunes as the artwork for my movie files?

  4. Vivian says:

    Yes, grab the icns created with SlipCover. Open it with Preview and save the file in png. Then, select your movie file in iTunes and press Cmd+i. Finally, go to the Illustration tab and put your png as Illustration. :-)

  5. Jack Brannen says:

    Is there a way to do this for folder and documents?

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