Color Sidebar icons in OSX 10.7 Finder

A few weeks ago I was determined to find some way to bring back custom icons in some form to the lion finder sidebar. Alas, someone else beat me to it, and rightly so since it turned out to require a decent bit of coding, and well, I’m not a programmer in any way.

The solution is a SIMBL plugin for finder, that you can find here:

Many, many people have already written (and made youtube videos too) about how to use the bundle, so this post is just for an additional tip that I’ve been using personally for the past week. For some unknown reason, SIMBL on lion isn’t holding settings, so when you restart, logoff, etc., the finder reverts to grey icons, requiring you to force-quit or “kill” the finder and relaunch it for the sidebar to load.

And a lot of people have thought up using applescript to relaunch the finder automatically. I just took it one step further, and combined a shell script with a launchagent plist to automate the relaunch of finder. This way you don’t see any annoying icon in your dock, even temporarily, while the script to kill and relaunch finder is executed.

Download one of the two files below, and copy to:


Then simply reboot, and enjoy your colorful sidebar by default again!

ColorSidebar Plist for normal finder
ColorSidebar Plist for TotalFinder

25 thoughts on “Color Sidebar icons in OSX 10.7 Finder

  1. Radi 14 September, 2011 / 23:15

    As plist file is executable. Thanks

    • jocelynmallon 15 September, 2011 / 11:44

      Hi, thanks for pointing that out, I’ll update the post to remove the need to set it executable.

      Cheers, πŸ™‚

  2. dax young (@eighteesix) 15 September, 2011 / 14:52

    thank you so much!

    on another note, what set of icons are you using? where can i get those sidebar icons as well? very good looking! i havnt been able to find any good ones as of late. thanks! πŸ™‚

  3. Bill Kochman 1 December, 2011 / 01:10

    Hello Girl Introverted. I was directed to your blog via a tip on the MacUpdate website. Thanks for the plist file for TotalFinder. I am happy to report that I now have colorful icons in my sidebar again. Would you happen to know of a way to also get back more colorful scrollbars? I have never liked the new style since Apple introduced it, or the very drab maximize box in the lower right corner of windows.

    I don’t know if you are really a “28 year old failure at life, with depression, sever social anxiety, agoraphobia, mild paranoia, and who knows what else”, but going by the image, if you love cats, you’re a pal in my book. πŸ™‚

    If you are interested, I have a category on my blog which is dedicated to my cat family: mama cat Socks, and her two kittens, Smokey and Bandit. They are purebred boonie cats. In case you are not familiar with the term, a boonie cat is the same as a stray cat here where I live. Here’s the URL if you are interested:

  4. Helen 20 January, 2012 / 14:44

    Sorry to be a pain over this, but what else do I need to install apart from your file? I’ve tried installing SIMBL and it doesn’t work, and installing your file alone has no effect for me, so am I missing something obvious?


    • jocelynmallon 23 January, 2012 / 16:16

      Hi, did you download and install the ColorfulSidebar.bundle for simbl too?

      you need to download the file here: (I linked to this in the original post) and install the file to /Library/Application Support/SIMBL/Plugins/ColorfulSidebar.bundle

      If any of the folders in that path don’t exist, you might need to create them first.

      Hope this helps, cheers πŸ™‚

  5. Helen 23 January, 2012 / 16:44

    I’ve done all that but still no joy. I guess I’m stuck with the grey icons 😦 Thanks for taking the time to help me – much appreciated!

  6. Drum51 10 February, 2012 / 09:22

    Thx !!!!!

  7. Caleb 10 February, 2012 / 21:10

    A little late to the party and probably a bit of a dumb question, but how did you get your finder windows to be coloured as well? I’m very curious about that, seeing as it seems to be a feature that was removed for standard users from Lion.

    • jocelynmallon 14 February, 2012 / 18:53


      Sorry for the late reply, I don’t really check this blog daily.

      I’m not sure I really understand your question though, what exactly do you mean?

    • Matthew 20 February, 2012 / 19:27

      You’re probably talking about the blue-grey background behind the icons, right? I’m not 100% sure, but I’m guessing it’s a preference for TotalFinder, the software that gives finder tabs.

      • jocelynmallon 24 February, 2012 / 13:28


        I don’t think it a preference within totalfinder, even when I kill TotalFinder, the background option is still there:

        Uploaded with Skitch!
  8. radi 27 February, 2012 / 01:10

    Any modification to Mountain Lion?. I have tested and icons disappear leaving only the names. Thank you.

  9. BoekMarc 2 March, 2012 / 13:46

    Thanx a lot! Great to have my icons back. In return I’ve made some dividers for the Favorites section. Will only work together with ColorfulSidebar. In the .zip file are 2 different folders with the dividers inside. A ” ” and a ” –––––” version.
    Drag each dividers to the place you want in the sidebar like you do with normal folders.
    You can use each one only in 1 place. They all differ by 1 “space” in the name πŸ˜‰
    Writing permissions are disabled so you can not “lose” files by dragging on to them.
    Hope you all like them!
    (Do hope they work ouside my mac as well. Wasn’t able to test it)

  10. Roberto 16 March, 2012 / 04:34

    I made a divider folder with a custom icon that matches the sidebar light blue shade and a thin black line, with the name of the folder as “β€”β€”β€”” to act as the divider. Feel free to use it but I am not sure how to make it available.

  11. Dean 22 March, 2012 / 02:42

    Hi Girl Introverted. I was very excited about your hack… However its been a few startups since and it seems the code is not being run. If I run killall for finder I get colorful icons however for some reason this script is not running at startup. I run 10.7.2 lion.

    • jocelynmallon 6 April, 2012 / 09:51


      I’m sorry its taken me so long to reply, but I’ve not really been maintaining this blog anymore.

      I don’t know what might have changed, I’m running 10.7.3 on my OSX partition and my script still works fine, but I also use totalfinder.

      That alone shouldn’t really matter though, since fundamentally the script is the same for using with normal finder, just calls a different application to relaunch.

      I’ll try to look into it later today or this weekend at the latest, and I’m sorry again for taking so long to reply.

  12. plsh2me 29 April, 2012 / 05:51

    If I run killall for finder I get colorful icons, then when close the Terminal seems no effect at all on Mac OS X Lion 10.7.4.

    • jocelynmallon 29 April, 2012 / 21:45


      I’m sorry its not working for you, I really don’t even know what to suggest. I don’t have a paid apple developer account, so I can’t test 10.7.4 until its released to the public.

      To be honest though, I know that finder is being updated in 10.7.4 (well, at least the release notes for the latest version of totalfinder said it was) to it could have broken the actual simbl bundle, in which case my automation hack won’t work at all.

      Like I said though, I won’t really know until 10.7.4 is released, or someone with way more knowledge of OSX than me chimes in.

      Sorry 😦

  13. plsh2me 3 May, 2012 / 10:24

    Thank you very much for your replay. Hopefully i will wait for good ;D

  14. papley 2 June, 2012 / 19:36

    I’m very interested in these hacks, but I have read that SIMBL is ‘not compatible with LION whatever anyone says.’ And the SIMBL web site, though I’ve been unable to find anything specific about LION, ends it’s compatibility list (as of today) with 10.6. Is there reason to believe installing SIMBL won’t create a problem in the long run?

    • jocelynmallon 3 June, 2012 / 12:46


      I’ve been running the most recent/last available version of SIMBL on lion, 10.7-10.7.4 without any problems. However, the only bundle I use is the colorfulsidebar bundle, I don’t bother with any other plugins, I just use it for colored icons.

      Hope this helps, cheers πŸ™‚

  15. D 30 November, 2012 / 17:27

    this happened to me too on 10.8. It worked fine at first. Then after a restart and a permission repair I can’t get it working again.

    Do there need to be specific permissions set on the folders or file?

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