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How to Add Custom Icons and Cover Images to Notion


One of the main things that attracted me to Notion was how visual it is. A workspace or app that is visually appealing to me makes it more likely that I will use it, and enjoy myself while doing it. Looking at a pretty picture of a European coffee shop while also staring at a task list makes it more enjoyable for me.

The most visually versatile part of Notion is its page icons and cover images. They are what can make one page look completely different from another, and it’s my favorite part of setting up a new page.

When creating or updating a Notion page, you can choose a page icon and cover photo.

Page cover and icon

In this article, I am going to discuss the different ways you can use Notion’s icons and cover images to customize your Notion space, and even how to create custom icons.

Notion Icons

There are four main ways to make your Notion page icons shine with customization:

  1. Use Emojis
  2. Use the native Icons
  3. Upload a custom icon
  4. Import an icon from the web

When you create a page, you add an icon above the page title. This icon will show up wherever the page is mentioned. This is a helpful way to distinguish between different pages, especially if you have pages with similar names.


When you choose your icon, you have three options.

First, you can choose an emoji. They give you the complete emoji library to choose from. Thankfully there is also a search bar to find the exact emoji you’re looking for.

The second option is Icons. This is a newer option, and new icons get added pretty frequently. These are different than emojis in that you can decide the color of any icon and they don’t have the same icon look. It’s a diverse collection of free Notion icons.

Once you select the icon you want, you can choose between 10 different colors.

Icon color

This is great if you’re going for a certain vibe or aesthetic on your page.

The third option is Custom. When I’m building out a fun or fancy page, this is usually what I use. You can upload your own custom icons. I create my own icons all the time.

You can also paste the link to an image you want to use as the icon. If I’m being honest, this isn’t a super useful feature. You have to have the URL for the image, which can be hard to get if you are looking for an image of ice cream on Google. It’s also not ideal because the space for the icon is a bit small and you cannot adjust the proportions or reposition the image you upload.

If you are looking for a custom icon, I recommend making it yourself, which I will show you how to do now. There are probably loads of people who sell custom icons you can buy, but between the native, free icons inside Notion and spending a few minutes in Canva, you can easily make the perfect icon.

Create your own Custom Icon

I use Canva for creating my own icons. Canva is a pretty powerful and easy-to-use tool. If you’re not a graphic designer, Canva is probably one of the best places to create pretty much anything.

Quick note: I have the Pro version of Canva, which allows you to download images as a .png with a transparent background. This means that only the icon will show up once you upload it (no white or colored background). You can technically create the icon with the free version, but you cannot download an image with a transparent background.

To create your own icon, head over to Canva.com or the Canva desktop app (my preference).

Click Create a Design in the top right corner. Search for Logo and click on it.

Create design in Canva

This will present you with a blank canvas. You can now upload an image you want to use as the icon or search for an Element that you want to use.

I usually start by searching for an Element (or multiple) to create what I want.

Search for icon

Once you find what you’re looking for, you can resize it on your page and change the color by clicking on the image and dragging it or editing from the menu panel on the top.

Edit element

You can add more than one element to your design by repeating the same process as above.

Add element

Canva also has tons of templates and design capabilities. Try messing around with it to discover all the tools and create exactly what you want. You can make pretty much anything you want, depending on the look you’re going for. You can create informative icons (such as a calendar image) or something just beautiful or cool looking. I’m a big fan of beautiful icons.

Once you’re satisfied with your design, export it as a .PNG format. These are the format options that let you download the design with a transparent background.

If you don’t have a Canva Pro account, you can download it as a .jpeg, but it will have a background color. So keep that in mind when you’re designing it.

To download your design, click Share in the top right corner, then choose Download.

Choose your format (.PNG) and click Transparent background and then click Download.

Download icon

Once you’ve downloaded your icon, head back to your Notion page and upload your new icon.

Upload new icon to Notion space


Finished icon

It’s a great way to make your Notion pages truly yours.

If you are one of the Dark-Mode people out there (I am not one), make sure to test how your images and icons look in Dark Mode. Some colors don’t show up really well.

Cover images

The second way to customize your Notion workspace is with cover images. Unlike icons, you’ll only see your cover image when you are on the page or when you view database entries that have cover images items in the Gallery View.

When choosing a cover image you can:

  • Upload your own
  • Link to an image from the web
  • Or use their native Unsplash integration

When you click on Add or Change Cover image, you’ll see a handful of images or colored backgrounds you can choose right then. If you don’t see something you like, I recommend going straight to the Unsplash option.

Unsplash has millions of images to choose from.

Cover image

If even after you search through Unsplash and your own photo library and can’t find the perfect image, you can create a custom cover image.

The process is very similar to creating a custom icon in Canva. The main difference is that you start with a background image.

Custom cover images are best for when you want to add text to an image. Or if you want to create a never-before-seen-masterpiece, such as this one:


All joking and unicorns aside, you can make cool images in Canva.

Create a Custom Cover Image

I start by going to Unsplash and finding an image for the background.

Once you find one and download it, head over to Canva.

Click Create a Design in the top right corner and click Import File. Choose the image you just downloaded from Unsplash.

Upload image to Canva

Once you upload your image, choose custom size. If the image is too big (which can be the case with Unsplash images), decrease the design size.

You can add any text or element you want to make it custom.

But do note, most likely the entire image will not display on the Notion page. The cover image is pretty narrow, so only a portion will display on the page. The entire image will show when you view the page in a Gallery View.

You can, however, reposition the image once you upload it to your page to choose which part will be displayed.

Feel free to use some of the templates or ideas in Canva to make the image extra special.

Finished Canva Image

(Photo by John Fowler)

Once you’re done editing your image, download it as a .jpeg or .PNG (we don’t need a transparent background) by clicking Share and then Download.

Upload it to your page and reposition it by hovering over the image and clicking Reposition.

Final image

Wrap Up

The level of customization inside of Notion, not only for design, is pretty much endless. I can’t stand looking at a sterile task manager all day. I need to see something that sparks joy. I usually spend a decent amount of time thinking through my icons and cover images to make them sparkle ✨

We use Notion at The Sweet Setup and The Focus Course every day, and it helps that my workspace reflects my personality and brings me joy.