Liam Newmarch

Front-end Web Developer

Pimp your VNC (Screen Share) shortcuts with OS X system icons

I use VNC (aka Screen Share) a lot, so I keep a folder of frequently accessed machines on my Dock.

The default VNC location file icon for OS X is a bit dull. Fortunately, OS X has a folder of system icons we can use instead. Even better, this folder contains icons for all recent Macbook, iMac and Mac Pro models.

VNC Icons

The folder can be located here; hit ⌘⇧G in Finder and paste to jump right to it:

/System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources

Creating a VNC shortcut file

In order to access VNC locations from the Dock, we can create a .vncloc file. Use a text editor to paste the following into a file and save it with a name ending in .vncloc, e.g. user-hostname.vncloc:

<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
  <dict>
    <key>URL</key>
    <string>vnc://user@hostname.lan</string>
  </dict>
</plist>

Note: you’ll need to change the vnc://user@hostname.lan to the remote host’s details.

You can save this file wherever you like. I, for instance, keep all my VNC location shortcuts in a VNC Locations folder in Documents.

Changing the icon

First choose an icon from the folder above. These are .icns files, a wrapper format that contains the same icon in multiple image sizes. They should open in Preview by default; on the largest size hit ⌘A to select the image and ⌘C to copy it.

Next, with the .vncloc file we created above, right click and choose “Get info”. There is a small icon preview top-left; click to select it and hit ⌘V and it should paste the new icon. You can drag the location file to the right of your Dock for quick access.