Icon Mining

72 hours to go until the InDesign Conference, and I have to take a break from non-stop InDesigning or I’m going to go InDeNuts. Here’s a tip for anyone who has to put together presentations or trainings about software and wants to have some nice visuals.

On the Mac, you can go icon mining by right/ctrl-clicking on an application icon and choosing Show Package Contents from the menu.


When you do this, the application opens like a folder and you can see all the bits and pieces that make up its interface.

Find a folder called Contents. It shouldn’t be too hard. Open it.


Look for another folder called Resources.


Inside Resources you will find all the little picture files and icons that the application uses. For some apps, there will be more than a thousand. The .icns are the big juicy icon files.



When you find something you like, be sure to COPY it to a new location, otherwise you may find the application gets very upset when it goes looking for a resource that isn’t there.

You can’t open .icns files with Photoshop, but Apple’s Preview works like a charm. Open the drawer attached to the right side of the window and you can see all the variants of the icon.


Select the one you want and save it as a PNG. That will preserve any transparency. Now you can open it in Photoshop, place it in InDesign, etc.


Yum. No sloppy screen grabs for you. Now all your presentations and training materials can be visualicious.


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