Replacicon – Replace app icons with old or alternative versions

Whether on the Dock, in the Launchpad or in the Applications folder: you can identify them by their name Apps on the Apple Mac usually via its icon. But over time, these app icons change, for example to follow new design trends or to make the update to a new version clear. If you want to quickly and easily change the app icons under macOS Big Sur or newer back to old or completely alternative versions, then this is it Replication a viable solution. This software searches multiple web sources for icons for all kinds of programs and assigns them to you with one click.

Abbreviation: You can go directly to the app website here

Download and install Replacicon on Apple Mac

The Replacicon app runs natively on the Apple Mac and can be downloaded under macOS 11 BigSur, macOS 12 Monterey and macOS 13 Adventure can be installed on both Intel Macs and computers with Apple Silicon (M chips). The app has to be purchased beforehand, but it only costs 4,99 euros. You can find a lot of information on how to use it as well as the purchase and download option on the app's official website: https://replacicon.app. 

If you have moved the app to the Applications folder on the Macintosh HD after downloading it, you can open it. Then enter the license key acquired with the purchase of the program.

After installing Replacicon, the license key acquired with the purchase will be requested.
After installing Replacicon, the license key acquired with the purchase will be requested.

Before you can actually use it, you have to make a few macOS settings and install a utility. However, an overview window helps with this, with which the individual steps are easy to follow. Simply click on the individual buttons and confirm the steps if necessary.

To enable app management (first item on the list), you will be directed to the app management of the system settings. There you click on the plus symbol (+) and add Replacicon from the app overview. Your password may be requested as part of the process, this is normal.

If the Helper Tool has been installed, then it must still be allowed to work as a background process. You will also be sent to the system settings for this. You will find Replacicon in the login items area. If its slider on the right is greyed out, you have to click it to activate it. If it is highlighted in blue, you don't have to do anything else.

Finally, you can complete the installation by clicking on the "Done" button. After that you have the possibility to use the Replacicon App on your Mac. Below you will find a few hints, tips and tricks.

Swap app icons with just one click

If you have opened Replacicon for the first time, then you have to be patient. For the time being, you may only see the icons of the installed programs that you already know. It takes a moment or two to load the alternatives from the various web sources tapped by the software. The overview then fills up with a few legacy icons (app icons from old versions) and alternative creations. 

In the Replacicon app you can either display all installed programs with changeable icons - or just those that are pinned to the dock. At the bottom right you can see the field in which the corresponding tick is set.
In the Replacicon app you can either display all installed programs with changeable icons - or just those that are pinned to the dock. At the bottom right you can see the field in which the corresponding tick is set.

Just scroll through the list of installed apps and the icons available for them. If you like one of them, just click on it. It takes a moment for the icon to be accepted because the Finder is restarted. You will then find the selected icon for the respective program wherever you can find it: in the Dock, in the Applications folder, in the Launchpad, and so on. 

Here I have not only displayed the dock apps, but also all the others. Also, I corrected the icon size upwards. If you want to use larger icon previews in Replacicon, select the "Large" option in the menu bar via View -> Thumbnail Size.
Here I have not only displayed the dock apps, but also all the others. Also, I corrected the icon size upwards. If you want to use larger icon previews in Replacicon, select the “Large” option in the menu bar via View -> Thumbnail Size.

I personally have this first Mactrackericon swapped from an old Macintosh for the colorful Apple logo.

Import your own app icons into Replacicon and set them for programs

The whole time I was trying out the app, I was like, This is all pretty cool, but it would be even cooler if I could add my own icons and set them for apps. You can do that without Replacicon, but it would be much easier with this software. And then I read on the website linked above that this should actually work. In the feature overview it says: "Import your own custom icons from disk and manage them along with all the rest."

The option to insert custom app icons is a bit hidden in Replacicon. With a right click on the line of the respective app you will find the appropriate menu item.
The option to insert custom app icons is a bit hidden in Replacicon. With a right click on the line of the respective app you will find the appropriate menu item.

Not much more was written about it and I didn't find the option to import your own symbols in the program's menus. But then it clicked! I just right-clicked (or double-clicked with two fingers on the trackpad) an app from the long Replacicon list. And in the context menu called up in this way I finally have the item "Add Custom Icon…" found. So if you create program icons yourself, open Replacicon, click on the app to be changed with the right mouse button / secondary click and add your little picture with the menu item mentioned. 

Create your own app icons on the Mac: Here's how!

If you want to create your own icons for one or more programs and insert them using Replacicon, it's pretty easy. Simply create square graphics (minimum 16 x 16 pixels, maximum 512 x 512 pixels) in a graphics program of your choice. You can paint them in GIMP, Photoshop, Affinity Photo, Krita, and similar apps—or you can create them by cropping photos or image files. Then simply change the format of the file name from .jpeg or .png to .icns. You don't need an extra app to convert, macOS knows what is meant when you change the format to .icns. You can then use the file as described above.

With a red border you will find an app icon that I made for Word. It is quick to create and should serve as an example for this article. You will surely get more creative creations :D
With a red border you will find an app icon that I made for Word. It is quick to create and should serve as an example for this article. You will surely get more creative creations :D

Application example: App icons for technically not so fit people

Elderly family members who have difficulty understanding app icons and the functions they can be called up, or people who are color blind or have poor eyesight and cannot correctly recognize some app icons can also benefit from Replacicon. An app can be made easier to understand by spelling out the program name or function (e.g. "Email" for Outlook or Thunderbird or "Music" for Spotify). Color codes or other optical adjustments may also help. In addition to individualization and retrieving old app icons, much more is possible with Replacicon. At least that's one or two of my ideas; I haven't tested that.

Native icons cannot be swapped

Due to technical restrictions set by Apple to protect its own programs and their display, no system apps and not all optional programs from Apple can be adjusted. This means that you cannot set new icons for the Finder, Mail, the calendar, music, the weather app or the like with Replacicon. However, some Apple programs can certainly be changed, for example Pages, Numbers and Keynote, which are the iWork programs. Also for GarageBand there are alternative pictures that you can set using the app presented here. Have fun customizing macOS!

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In the Sir Apfelot Blog you will find advice, instructions and reviews on Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini and Mac Studio.