How to extract great hi-res icons from Mac apps

Updated July 16th, 2020.

You can easily extract hi-res icons for any app on your Mac, then use them somewhere else (maybe in a how-to document). By “hi-res” I mean 1024 x 1024 pixels. It’s easy as 1-2-3. Well actually 1-2-3-4-5.

  1. Click once on the app you want an icon for.
  2. Get Info (either under the File menu, or ⌘-I)
  3. Click the icon at top left of the Get Info window
  4. Edit menu/Copy
  5. Go somewhere and Paste.

What you are actually doing is copying an “ICNS” file. That’s an icon file. If you paste into Word, you’ll get a 1024 x 1024 icon. If you paste into Preview, you’ll get something else: multiple versions of the icon, in sizes ranging from 1024 x 1024 to 16 x 16, because that’s what an ICNS file is. (After pasting into Preview, show the thumbnails so you can see these different sizes. That’s “Show Thumbnails” in the View menu.)

In Preview, do an Export (File menu) and save as a PNG. The resulting file will be just one size (1024 x 1024) and is something you can drag into Pages, or just about anywhere else. Or, Show Thumbnails (in the View menu, or using the View button in the Toolbar), click on the thumbnail that’s the size you want (test by going to View/Actual Size), copy it, and then make a new document with just that one size under File/New from Clipboard.

Want to know more about the Preview app? Of course you do. Watch my video and learn all about it.

Some of the icons are incredibly detailed. Look at this one, for the Pages app:

Pages app icon. Look at the detail!
Pages app icon. Click to see full-size version.

Of course this method of Select, Get Info, Click, and Copy isn’t restricted to app icons. You can get icons for folders, documents, whatever. All with the same method. Check out these beauties:

Dropbox folder icon
Dropbox folder icon
Text Edit document icon. Here's to the crazy ones.
Text Edit document icon. Here’s to the crazy ones. Click to see full-size version.
Excel document icon
Excel document icon. Click to see full-size version.

There’s more to it but this is “”, not “,” and this is enough to get you on your way.

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