get/make transparent hard drive icons - why so difficult? (OS X)
April 6, 2020 1:55 PM   Subscribe

This should be ridiculously easy, and yet I fail every time. 1) Find icon with transparent background 2) Download 3) Copy 4) Get Info on matching drive 5) Select the little pic at the top left in the Get Info window 6) cmd-v to paste the new icon. I can't get past #2 - the transparency's either gone when I download or won't hold through saving as a png. Click for longer explanation -->

I'm using this quick video tutorial. It is very simple. I have Preview and Photoshop.

When I download a transparent icon, such as this one or this one, the transparency disappears and the picture has a white background when I open it on my computer.

I've tried opening them in photoshop and putting a transparent layer underneath the picture and then use the magic wand to get rid of the background, and I save as a png and check "transparency." The picture *looks* like it has a transparent background (checkerboard), but in fact the checkerboard is a part of the picture, rather than a placeholder for a transparent layer.

I'm stymied - help?
posted by tzikeh to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Both examples download for me with transparent backgrounds, no fiddling required.
posted by scruss at 2:09 PM on April 6, 2020

Not all png files are inherently transparent. How are you downloading them? You can't just right-click on the image and do 'save image as'.

Are you using the 'download PNG file' button? I did this and opened it directly in Photoshop, and the file for the red drive was properly transparent. I tested this by adding a fill layer below the drive, and it worked as expected.

I then deleted that extra layer, then "Save As" from Photoshop, save it where you want to, and it's good. This method doesn't give you the option (it's not necessary) of choosing 'transparency'. It's automatic.
posted by hydra77 at 2:21 PM on April 6, 2020

Response by poster: I am using the download PNG file button. They download with the transparent backgrounds (sorry I see I did not explain this well) except for some that download with a white background. I open it in Photoshop, where the checkerboard is transparent. I then save as and the picture still has the checkerboard background. When I go to make it the icon image, the rectangle of the picture *plus the checkerboard background* becomes the drive icon.
posted by tzikeh at 3:00 PM on April 6, 2020

I tried this myself (MacOS Mojave) and it didn't work. I'm not sure if it's possible.

This guy's video implies that they made some changes to how the icons work in Mojave. (tl;dr on the video: make sure your icon images are square or they'll be blurry).

Even making sure my test image was square, I got the same result you did -- an opaque icon with the checkerboard pattern in the background.

(With a non-square image, the background was white.)
posted by neckro23 at 3:31 PM on April 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I just followed the directions from the video to replace an icon with a transparent png from your links. It worked as intended.

I used Preview rather than Photoshop. Photoshop might not be the right tool for the job. It doesn't quite use Copy the same way that most programs do.

Note...I first did this using your png to replace an icon on a file other than my harddrive. That worked brilliantly. But when I tried it on my own with another image for my backup drive icon, the quality was very poor. It worked, but looked low res and horrible. (MacOS Mojave). So I'm really not sure.
posted by hydra77 at 3:43 PM on April 6, 2020

Best answer: Have you tried using Preview instead of Photoshop at least for the Copy step? Does the background show up as transparent in Preview? It may be a Photoshop problem with pngs and copy/paste unrelated to the icon stuff. Could also try dragging and dropping instead of copy/paste.
(Also, thanks for this idea! It's fun!!)
posted by bluefly at 5:41 PM on April 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

For clarification, when I tried it I used Preview to do the copy. Still didn't work.

Dragging and dropping didn't work for me, when I did that it seemed to replace the HDD icon with the icon for the image file (not the thumbnail).
posted by neckro23 at 9:33 AM on April 7, 2020

Response by poster: Solved by hydra77 and bluefy!
posted by tzikeh at 3:37 PM on April 8, 2020

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