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This is fairly trivial question, but I’m curious about how this works.

I just wanted to change an icon used by a Chromium App created from a web address. The .desktop file refers to an icon with a name made from the app id…

Exec=/usr/bin/chromium --profile-directory=Default --app-id=ocdlmjhbenodhlknglojajgokahchlkk
Icon=chrome-ocdlmjhbenodhlknglojajgokahchlkk-Default

…but there is no icon with this name that I can find in $HOME/.icons (just a link to…), $HOME/.local/share/icons, /usr/local/share/icons, /usr/share/icons or /usr/share/pixmaps.

I did eventually find them in dedicated app folders under $HOME/.config/chromium/Default/Extensions but they don’t have the names referenced in the .desktop file (e.g. 32.png, 64.png) so how does the system find them?

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Did you notice if there is a $HOME/.local/share/icons/hicolor directory? It's where third party applications should store their icons, following the FreeDesktop specifications (if you need more information regarding this matter, you can find it at https://specifications.freedesktop.org/icon-theme-spec/icon-theme-spec-latest.html#directory_layout )

Inside that folder you can find other folders with various size; I guess most the icons are on the 128x128 format, even though some have bigger and smaller size

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