Macs aren’t known for being easily customizable, but if you put a little work into it and have the right tools, you can make some great changes to really make you Mac your own. This is especially true with your application icons. With the exception of your wallpaper, switching out the icons that represent each of your applications is perhaps the easiest change you can make to your interface. Sometimes, though, the image or icon you want to use isn’t in a format that’s going to work as a Mac application icon.
iConvert Icons wants to fix all that. I’ve been using their webapp for years to convert images and Windows icons to something I could use in OS X, and I’ve never found a Mac app I’ve liked near as much. They’ve finally released an app that can live on my Mac, though, and save me the trip online every time I need a change of scenery in OS X. But will the new Mac app be as good as (or perhaps even better than) their webapp?
Converting Icons to .ICNS
Let’s say you found an awesome icon of a flying bison from a pretty popular cartoon show, and you want to start using this cool icon for maybe all of your apps, or at least the ones you like the most, differentiation be damned. Unfortunately, the icon is in .ico format, which would be great if you had a PC, but it’s not going to work on your Mac.
That’s where iConvert Icons comes in. When the app opens, there’s really only one thing to do: drag an icon into the window and wait for it to convert. But there’s more to it, and this little tool packs a big icon punch.
If you have an image that’s anything but a Mac .icns format, iConvert Icons will handle it for you. The checkboxes on the right let you choose whether you want a Mac icon, a Windows icon, a .png for use on Linux or the web, or if you want to create a favicon for use as a URL or website icon. Select a single format or multiple formats and drag your image to the left window.
That starts the conversion process. The only thing you’ll have to do is choose a destination folder. iConvert Icons won’t navigate to your new icons, though, so choose your folder wisely or you’ll have to hunt your icons down. Batch conversion, impossible on the webapp, is also super simple here. Select the images or icons you want to convert and drag them to the conversion window. The output process is the same as with a single conversion. It’s good to note that if there’s already a file in the destination folder with the same name as one of your new files, iConvert Icons will ask before overwriting anything.
Creating Images You Can Actually Edit
Because I do tend to customize all of my icons and try to get a really specific look on my Mac, I like to be able to edit my icons before implementation. Unfortunately, neither .icns nor .ico files are compatible with applications like Photoshop. This is where iConvert Icons can make itself useful again. Even if the icon or entire set you’ve downloaded is already in a Mac compatible format, you can convert all of them into files you can edit.
Just select the .png checkbox in iConvert Icons and drag everything to the conversion pane. Once complete, open the new files in your image editor of choice. Once you’ve gotten everything how you like it, save the edited files and convert them back to Mac .icns icons. (Remember to save them with different filenames, though, or you’ll be overwriting the originals!)
Quick Tip: This can also be handy if you need to use an icon from an app, say, in an article, and you want it in an image format.
Digging into the Preferences
There are some really useful preferences, especially if you’re going to be converting a lot of icons at once. You can tell iConvert Icons how to figure out the icon source, or you can just leave the app to auto-detect the source by default. iConvert Icons will also export icons of different types into separate folders, handy if you’re creating Mac and Windows icons at the same time.
The export format checkboxes are repeated in the application preferences without any additional utility. However, this is where you also can find the advanced size selection preferences. Depending on the output format and the OS you’re optimizing for, you can adjust the size and color depth of the finished icons.
Another Quick Tip: Once you have the icons you want, you could use iCondubber to tweak your Mac with them for free.
Any concerns I had that iConvert Icons would lose functionality with the move to the Mac were misplaced. All of the great features have been preserved with the addition of batch conversion and increased control over the output format. Whereas before you could only ever get one icon at a time and just took the sizes the webapp gave you, the Mac app will handle as many images as you throw at it and lets you take the wheel when deciding how your icons turn out.
The biggest drawback of the webapp was that it was, in fact, a webapp. I had to stop what I was doing and upload my icons one at a time. Now with iConvert Icons right on my desktop, icon conversion is seamless and no longer removes me from my editing or customization workflow. I really couldn’t be happier with the move of iConvert Icons to the Mac and would recommend it to anyone needing to customize icons for any OS.
Great app for converting among different icon formats and creating files you can actually edit.10
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