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Customizing Logic Pro X Icons

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The jury is still somewhat out in regards to Logic X. Although there are some exciting and novel features which have been added, some rather obvious past functionality which needed improving has been unaddressed. In certain instances, past functionality which some users took as necessary mainstays has been eradicated entirely. The one feature I found to be most jarring on first inspection (aside from no longer being able to openly choose a track/region color pallet - no great work around yet exists to my knowledge) is the inability to easily customize track icons.

As it stands, the Logic X developers have diminished the number of available track icons and greatly increased the difficulty of adding new ones. As I am a fairly visually oriented person, my track icons are necessary to quickly pick out track and instrument types and are something I rely on more so than labeling (and as the track/region colors are currently hyper limited, icons are an absolute must for me).

The Image

The first thing to know in dealing with the icon issue is that Logic X has replaced the PNG filetype for a five layered TIF format for track icons. This immediately causes problems if one wants to use any of the standard or customized PNG icons from Logic 9.

The easiest image edit available to remedy this is to simply convert your PNG icons to a single layer TIF format in an image editor of your choice. However, this may and will cause grain problems when the 128 x 128 legacy icon is zoomed in fully to the 512 x 512 maximum pixel resolution which X now offers.

As image editing is somewhat beyond the scope of a music program tutorial (and this one is already purely functional), I am simply going to use some commonly used pre-made icons here. Basically, you are going to need a layered square TIF file with a 512, 256, 128, 64 and 32 pixel size. Be aware that the blurriness of the image will become apparent with the track zoomed all the way in in Logic X, if there is a problem with the resolution of the larger images.

The Native Instruments Suite offers a few choice examples to immediately work with as they are multi-layered. To access them, go to the application file, right click on the icon and select 'Show Package Contents'. In the package contents, navigate to the .icns file by going to Contents/Resources and copy the .icns file to a separate folder on your desktop or anywhere else which is convenient. If you do not have NI instruments, you can grab an icon of your choice elsewhere.

The file path to the Absynth icon.The file path to the Absynth icon.The file path to the Absynth icon.
The file path to the Absynth icon.

To save time and (more or less) batch process, I have collected all of my NI icons.

The collected NI icons.The collected NI icons.The collected NI icons.
The collected NI icons.

The next step in this particular process is to open each individual icon in Preview and export it as a TIF (File/Export/TIFF). Import these TIF icons into X by opening X's package contents and going to Contents/Frameworks/MAResources.framework/Versions/A/Resources – this is where all of Logic X's track icons reside.

The Logic X icons file path.The Logic X icons file path.The Logic X icons file path.
The Logic X icons file path.

Hack It

Now comes the tricky part, but do not be discouraged as it is relatively simple once you try it once or twice. If you do not have it already, download the free application Xcode from the App Store (a few gigs surprisingly). You can also use TextEdit - or various other editors - if you are low on disk space, though they are a bit more difficult to use.

Open the MAResourcesMapping.plist file which resides in the same folder as the Logic X icons with Xcode. Open AssetSets/InstrumentIcons/AllInstrumentIcons and highlight the last on the list, which should be 'InstrumentIcon_0423'. Right click it and copy it. Right click and paste it.

You should have a new row labeled 'InstrumentIcon_0423 – 2'. Delete the last portion of the label to read any number higher than 0423. I have labeled mine 'InstrumentIcon_0500' to keep it simple, and to also leave room in case future updates of X add additional icons.

The next step is to open the disclosure triangle and edit the contents. In the description row, change the wording after the 'NSString' to the filename of your icon without the TIF extension. In the id row, change the number to the number you changed the InstrumentIcon to without the preceding 0, in this case, 500. In the image row, change the name to the image file once again. The last row should remain as is.

The edited .plist file.  You will have to create a unique icon number and subtext for each icon you add. The edited .plist file.  You will have to create a unique icon number and subtext for each icon you add. The edited .plist file.  You will have to create a unique icon number and subtext for each icon you add.
The edited .plist file. You will have to create a unique icon number and subtext for each icon you add.

The final step is to navigate to the 'InstrumentIconGroups' section just below and click the disclosure triangle where you want the icon to show up in X's menu. For the NI icons, I want them on 'Other', so I have clicked the 'BasicSetOther' disclosure triangle. I then click on the bottom most icon, and once again do a copy/paste. The final step is to change the last four digit number to the same one I used previously, in this case, 0500.

The final .plist edit.The final .plist edit.The final .plist edit.
The final .plist edit.

Save the .plist, and start Logic Pro. When you navigate to the Other icons in the selector, you should see your newly added icon.

The NI suite of icons in Logic X.The NI suite of icons in Logic X.The NI suite of icons in Logic X.
The NI suite of icons in Logic X.


It's as simple as that. There are two important things to remember however:

  1. Make a backup of your original .plist file before you do anything and keep it in a safe place. This is incase something does go wrong, you can simply replace it and start anew.
  2. The second is to make a backup of your edited Resources folder, as future updates of X are likely to overwrite any customizations you have made. In that case, simply replace the updated Resources folder with your customized folder and you will regain both your customized TIF's and your .plist.

All in all, I do hope the Logic developers render this tutorial useless by way of an icon customization app or other, but until then (and I would not hold my breath), this is the best solution available. If your icons are at all as important to you as they are to me, this little bit of knowledge of Logic hacking should go a long way.

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