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Author Archives: Jonathan Chu

Replacing those blurry icons!

When we have the chance, we like to post tips and tricks to help you get more out of your VMware Fusion.

Today, we’re discussing an issue, where when using VMware Fusion to run Windows on Mac, in Unity mode, the icons for Windows applications show up blurry. A helpful anonymous user already posted a solution for this on macosxhints.com, but we wanted to highlight it here and provide a bit more background. 

Explanation: Why are those icons blurry?

The issue is the following. In Unity mode, the icons for Windows applications show up blurry on the dock and in the application switcher (when you command-tab). Let’s take a look at some images so you know what we’re talking about:

Screen shot of the application switcher (Command-Tab) with fuzzy Windows application icons.

Here is a close-up of the application switcher.   

Close up of the application switcher (Command-Tab) with fuzzy icons. 

Do you notice how the Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer and Windows Explorer icons are less sharp than the Finder and Firefox icons?

The reason for this is fairly simple. Icons are just small images and the icons for Windows are generally smaller (typically 32 pixels by 32 pixels) than ones for Mac OS (128 x 128). As a result, Windows icons need to be scaled up to a larger size when viewed in Mac OS X. Here’s a quick demonstration:

Comparison of Microsoft Word icons at original size (32x32) and scaled up to Mac OS X icon size (128x128)

The Solution

The workaround for this issue is fairly simple: replace the old small icons with larger ones.

One small hitch to this is that it’s fairly difficult to obtain larger versions of the same exact icons. However, fortunately there are a number of free alternative icons on the web, some of which look arguably even better than the originals. Below we use a few icons made by Benjigarner and TpdkDesign.net, available on iconarchive.com.

Step 1. Find new replacement icons

First you will need to find replacement icons. As we mentioned above, there are a number of well-designed and free icons on the web. Just do a Google search for "free icons" and you’ll be sure to stumble upon icon-focused websites. A number of designers on these websites design icon sets so that the icons for multiple applications will have the same look and feel.

When looking for replacement icons, you will want to download versions that are at least 128×128.

Step 2. Find the Windows applications in your Virtual Machine

These will be located inside the .vmwarevm file of the relevant virtual machine. Typically, the .vmwarevm file is located in: ~/Documents/Virtual Machines. For those with a Bootcamp partition, you can find the .vmwarevm file in: ~/Library/Application Support/VMWare Fusion/Virtual Machines/Boot Camp/Boot Camp partition.vmwarevm.   

Ctrl-click (right-click) this file and select "Show Package Contents." Go to the Applications folder and you should see a list of Windows applications.

Select the application which icon you would like to replace and choose Get Info (Command-i or File » Get Info). The window that pops up should have an icon in the top left; this is the icon that you will replace.

Step 3. Replace the Icon!

Leaving the "Get Info" window up, open up your replacement icon in Preview. Go to Edit » Copy to copy the image to the clipboard. Go to the "Get Info" window and click once on the top left icon. (You will see a subtle shadow around it indicating that it has been selected.) Finally, press Command-V to paste the image.

Copy the new icon image. Click on the old icon in Get Info window and hit Command-V to paste. 

The "Get Info" window should update to show the new icon.

Get Info window with the new icon.

Step 4. Repeat steps 1 – 3

Repeat steps 1-3 for each application you would like to change. If you change your mind and would like to revert to the old icons, just go to Get Info again, select the icon and press Delete.

Step 5. Enjoy your new icons

When you are done, you should now be able to interact with a new sharp set of icons.

Screen shot of the application switcher (Command-Tab) after replacing the icons.

Close up of the application switcher (Command-Tab) after replacing the icons.

PS. We would love to hear about the icon packages and icon websites that you like.  Feel free to post in the comments.