Tired of seeing the same old app icons on the iPhone home screen? Yes, this view can get boring over time. However, if you are willing to accept a few caveats, it is possible to change the look of an app icon with a simple workaround.
Provided you are prepared to spend a few minutes, you can also use this workaround to customize all of the app icons on a home screen page. Add a matching wallpaper and some customizable widgets, and the possibilities are endless.
What do you need
To change an app icon on iPhone, you need to use the Shortcuts app. It is pre-installed on your device. If you can’t find it, go to the App Store, search for “ shortcuts, ” then download the app.
You should also have some icons that you can use while working on the workaround below. Websites like Flaticon, Iconfinder, and Pngtree are great sources for downloading free icons. Save them in the Photos app or in the Files app.
How it works
Using the Shortcuts app, you can create a shortcut to open any app on your iPhone. But this is where it gets interesting: you can also replace the standard shortcut icon with any icon you have on your device. Then you add the shortcut to the home screen.
Since you’re not changing an app’s original icon, but instead creating a custom app icon, here are a few things to keep in mind.
First launch the shortcuts app
Tap a Home screen shortcut with a custom icon to display the Shortcuts app for a split second before launching the app it’s linked to.
No context menu option
Custom app icons will not display the context menu options that you would otherwise get by long-pressing or tapping the original 3D Touch app icons. For example, you can’t open a new private tab or your reading list directly with a custom Safari icon.
No notification badges
You won’t see any notification badges on custom app icons. However, you will continue to receive notifications as usual.
Here are the steps to change an app icon (or create a custom icon from scratch). Although they look rather long and complicated, you should be able to repeat the process easily once you’ve built a few icons.
Note: The following steps show the Shortcuts app running on iOS 14. If you are using an older version of iOS, the screenshots might look slightly different.
Step 1: Open the Shortcuts app. Then tap the + icon at the top right of the screen. If you don’t see this icon, make sure the My Shortcuts tab is selected in the bottom row.
2nd step: Tap the search bar at the bottom of the screen and type “open apps”. Choose the option titled Open Apps in Search Results.
Step 3: Tap the Choose field, then choose an app. As an example, let’s select Safari.
Step 4: Tap the three dots icon at the top right of the screen.
Step 5: Tap the default shortcut icon and choose a color. If you add an icon in PNG format (which has transparency), consider selecting a color that matches your iPhone wallpaper. Tap Done to continue.
Step 6: Replace the New Shortcut label with the name of the application. Next, tap Add to Home Screen.
Step 7: Tap the shortcut icon under the “Home screen name and icon” section. Next, tap Choose Photo to select a photo from your iPhone’s Photos app, or select Choose File to choose one through the Files app.
Step 8: Replace the New Shortcut label with the name of the application. Tap Add to continue.
Step 9: Tap Done, and then tap Done again.
You can now exit the Shortcuts application.
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Hide the original app icon
Once you return to the Home screen, you should see your custom app icon listed in. You can tap on it to open the app. But again, you will briefly see the Shortcuts app for a while before the app opens.
If everything looks good, you can go ahead and hide the original app icon. If you are using iOS 14 or later, the easiest way to do this is to store it in the app library. To do this, long press or tap 3D Touch and tap the app icon, then tap Remove app. Follow by tapping Remove from Home Screen or Hide from App Library.
If you’re using iOS 13 or earlier, you need to hide it in a folder instead. If you don’t see a folder on the Home screen, you can create one from scratch. To do this, drag the icon onto another.
Repeat the above steps to create as many app icons as you want. If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, check out Pinterest. It will give you all kinds of weird home screen design concepts to apply on your iPhone.
Did you know you can stack your widgets on the iPhone? Click on the following link to find out how to do this.
Last updated Sep 30, 2020
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