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How do I assign custom icons to folders, as well as the default folders Desktop, Downloads, Music, etc.? I know that one way is to assign the properties of folders, but I want to assign icons in the same way that are assigned the default folders, so the custom icons will also appear in the Nautilus bookmarks. I've also seen this question >> custom icon in "Places" menu <<, but that is not what I seek.


My main intention is this: a busy cat

I want the markers to display custom icons like the dolphin. I know it's possible, because the folder "Desktop", "Documents", "Music" has its own custom icons in bookmarks. How?

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See also:… – Wilf Oct 8 '15 at 23:20
up vote 38 down vote accepted

Custom icon selection

In the file manager (nautilus):

  • right click a folder's icon
  • click on properties in the contextual menu
  • in the properties window click on the framed icon (top left)

that should open the dialog to choose a new icon

Pick an icon from /usr/share/icons

Note - the default folder icons are in the Humanity sub-folder.

Nautilus bookmark icon screenshot

Custom icon backup & restore

The informations seems to be saved by nautilus in ~/.local/share/gvfs-metadata.

Note that the directory contains lots of other data (emblems and more). As far as I know they are in binary format so I wasn't really able to pinpoint what's really needed in a backup. Still file path of the icons shuld remain exactly the same between backup and restore for this to work


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I know change the icons that way, but it's not what I'm looking to do. I want to create other folders in my home folder and assign icons that are also seen in nautilus bookmarks. – Frank Souza Nov 15 '11 at 14:29
Probably this is related to dolphin/nautilus incompatibility? I added a link to a screenshot that shows what happens following my solution. In which file manager do you set the icon? – Matteo Scotuzzi Nov 15 '11 at 16:11
Oww man, this my question was based on the previous versions of Ubuntu 11.10. I did not know it was possible to do this in 11.10. I'm an idiot! I did now the standard way: in the folder properties and surprise ... it worked! Ok I apologize for lost time, and much, thank you! Now the question is: Where are these customization settings are saved? In which file? For some day I will reformat my machine and would like to maintain those customizations. Thank you very much – Frank Souza Nov 15 '11 at 17:20
I added some info on backup&restore of custom icons to the answer, hope it helps – Matteo Scotuzzi Nov 16 '11 at 14:25
Thank you @matteo, definitely solved my problem and took my question. Thanx – Frank Souza Nov 17 '11 at 18:08
  1. Right click on the folder whose icon you want to change and select "Properties".
  2. In the properties window, click on the image of the icon (The icon which is in the "Basic" tab which is opened first by default). An icon selection window will open.
  3. In the icon selection window, choose the icon or image you want to set for the folder.
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