Blog Post

How-To: Change the Default OS X Boot Icon

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!


The OS X boot image epitomizes the simplicity and elegance of the operating system itself, showing a basic Apple (s aapl) logo set against a light grey background. I’m a huge fan of this simple layout, but was very interested to hear about BootXChanger, a tiny application that can alter the boot image to anything you’d like.

BootXChanger comes with an excellent set of PNG images already at a boot-screen-appropriate size and resolution, along with a set of instructions for creating your own. It makes this Mac customization, which would otherwise require some fairly complex digging around, remarkably simple.


Installing the application follows the standard “Drag to Applications” process and, after double clicking the BootXChanger icon, you are presented with a very straight forward interface.


You’re able to drag-and-drop any PNG file into the window before clicking “Apply” and entering your administrator username and password. If you’re unhappy with the outcome, reverting to the default image only requires one click.

Available Images

BootXChanger comes bundled with a range of nostalgic Mac icons, bound to recreate a few memories.

Included Boot Images
Included Boot Images

It also has a range of limitations, put in place deliberately by the developer. The most notable is that BootXChanger will not change the background color of the boot screen (it remains the standard #BFBFBF hex color). This is done so as not to damage the appearance of the loading spinner, displayed as your computer boots. It means that the background of your images must be the same if you’d like them to blend in with the background.

Other limitations center around the number of colors that can be used in the image. The developer suggests that you keep it below 100, and stick to using GIF or PNG-8 image formats.

Intel Macs also have further limitations as images must be compressed to fit inside the boot file. Images that are overly complex may not be suitable for use. BootXChanger checks all these possibilities for you, and will refuse to alter your system if the chosen image is an incorrect format.


Here are a variety of different examples, showing the outcome of various BootXChanger images:




Backup First!

As with any software that alters system or boot files, I would certainly recommend making a backup of your system prior to experimenting. If anything goes wrong (and your Mac won’t boot), insert your OS X installation CD and select your hard drive as the startup disk for the subsequent restart.

BootXChanger is a fantastic, simple application to make adjusting your boot icon a straight-forward process. It’s likely to automatically prevent you from making any problematic changes, so have fun experimenting!

11 Responses to “How-To: Change the Default OS X Boot Icon”

  1. It sort of works, as in, it does change the image, but system won’t boot. Xp on boot camp won’t boot either. SL 10.6.2… Of course, my back up is 5 days old. Crap…

  2. I don’t really like hacking my system, but this is sort of interesting. I don’t boot my Mac often enough to even see the boot image. Having a computer that doesn’t crash has that side effect :) I still remember the bitching and whining from a lot of people when Jaguar released in 2002. They were so pissed that Apple had done away with the happy Mac. I thought that reaction very pathetic.

  3. Adam Jackson

    I haven’t used this app since 10.3 panther when they changed it to the apple from the Mac classic icon.

    I didn’t know it was still around and was afraid to try on an Intel Mac.