Folder Factory: Make Your Desktop Your Own

I’m a big fan of UI customization, and I’m always trying to make my desktop look just so. I’ve spent hours searching out just the right icons to match whatever wallpaper I’m using, and a big part of that is finding the perfect set of folders.

That can be a big pain, though, and it can be just as aggravating to switch out all of those folder icons, too. That’s why I jumped at the chance to try out Folder Factory, which promised to be a simple way to not only switch out my folders, but to create new looks myself.
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Tour the Factory Floor

Folder Factory doesn’t create new folders from scratch, so I needed a folder ready to go when I popped the application open. Because Folder Factory completely changes the look of the folder, though, it may be best to try it out on an unimportant folder, not something specific to OS X, especially since there’s no built-in mechanism to revert the folder back to its original look.

Change the folder's color, and control the opacity.

Change the folder’s color, and control the opacity.

Drag the unembellished folder onto Folder Factory. The easiest changes to make are to the folder’s color. Pick a color and set its intensity using the color slider. I can also fiddle with the folder’s opacity, and I’m sure there are reasons to make an invisible folder, but I’m coming up short when I try to think of any. Yeah, I can drag it down to 80% opacity or so, but after that, things just seem to start getting weird. The folder’s color seems to matter less the more transparent it gets, so keep that in mind.

Slap any picture onto the folder, too. Drag an image file into Folder Factory, and then you find a lot of the same controls as before when you were adjusting the color. Set the size for the image, and add a color overlay using the Color Intensity slider. The Opacity slider makes a lot of sense here, as I could make the picture look more a part of the finished object and less like I decoupaged my family snaps onto OS X’s interface. Unfortunately there’s no way to wrap the image to match the folder shape, though, so the picture just sort of sits on the folder and will overhang the edges if it is sized too large.

Stick an image on your folder, but it's not easy to make it look good.

Stick an image on your folder, but it’s not easy to make it look good.

Text is the last embellishment, and it may be the most useful, after the color adjustment, of course. Enter a single line of text, and hit the flower icon to add iOS-style Emoji. Folder Factory let me choose from any of the fonts on my Mac, and I can set the text size myself, too. Folder Factory wouldn’t let me enter line breaks, though, so if I wanted to enter a longer title or description for my folder, I had to get really small with my text.

No Take Backs

Clicking Apply Changes does just that, and the icon for the original folder is replaced with the Folder Factory creation. When I wasn’t happy with what I’d done, and it happened quite a lot that I didn’t like the finished product when I was starting out with Folder Factory, there wasn’t any way to go back or undo anything. I couldn’t revert to my original folder, at least not with Folder Factory.

Text is easy to add to the folder.

Text is easy to add to the folder.

There are a couple of easy ways around this. Hopefully you, like me, are only using Folder Factory to edit folders you’ve created, and not special folders created by OS X, like the Documents or Downloads folders. To get rid of the new folder icon, select the offending folder, hit Command + I, select the folder’s icon above Spotlight Comments in the Get Info window, and just tap the Delete key. The folder should revert to its original look. Perhaps even simpler, just create a new folder named the same thing and copy the contents of the less than attractive folder into the new. Trash the uggo, and it’s done.

Still, I would have liked an undo function. There were a few moments of desperation on my side of the computer screen as I tried to figure out how to rid myself of the hideous creations I’d unleashed upon my desktop. Cooler heads prevailed, but there are users who won’t realize their problems can be solved quite so easily, and, let’s face it, this is an app made for people who need an extra helping hand figuring out their UI.

Folder Factory works great for creating a UI theme.

Folder Factory works great for creating a UI theme.

Final Thoughts

Adding text is a nice bonus if I want to differentiate folders, but they’ve already got names, so it’s almost superfluous. The images can be fun, especially if I wanted to put in the effort to create specially edited images with transparencies that look just great on my folders, but if I had the skills to do all that, I’d probably just make my own folders from scratch, bypassing Folder Factory completely.

Folder Factory is going to be most useful when creating a unified OS X theme. I’ve spent hours hunting down icons to suit whatever look I was going for at the time, and a simple app to customize the color of my folders would have been a huge help. Knowing that it’s an easy task to back out any changes I make, though I can’t do it in the app, I’m even willing to throw those special OS X icons in, too. Folder Factory finds its greatest utility as an app for creating quick and easy UI changes with very little effort.


Change the look of your folders, but it's not easy to add images.