How to customize your iPhone’s app icons

Have you ever wanted to make your iPhone your own, with your individualized style and flair? Sure, you can change your home screen wallpaper. But if you really want to personalize your phone, why not create your own app icons?

It’s doable, using Apple’s built-in Shortcuts app. You actually won’t be replacing the icons that the apps came with — rather, you’ll be creating separate Shortcuts that lead to the app. It’s a tedious and time-consuming process, but in the end, you can have a fully customized iPhone home screen.

Here’s how you do it:

  • First, find and tap on the Shortcuts app. It’s pre-installed; if you can’t see it immediately on your home screen, swipe left until you’re at the App Library and start typing “Shortcuts” into the top search bar.
  • Once you’re in the app, tap on the “plus” sign in the upper-right corner, and then on “Add Action”
  • There are a lot of interesting things to try out in Shortcuts. But right now, what we want to do is switch app icons. Type “Open app” in the search bar and then tap on the “Open App” link.
  • Tap on the word “Choose.” You’ll see a list of your apps; pick the one you want to customize and you’ll be taken back to the New Shortcut page.
  • Select the three dots in the upper-right corner. You’re now in the Details page. Give your shortcut a name and tap “Add to Home Screen.”
  • You’ll now see a preview of the icon (which will be a standard, uninteresting icon that Shortcuts automatically adds). Don’t worry, we’re going to make it better. Select Add in the top-right corner.
  • Now it’s time to find your substitute icon. There are a bunch of icon sources online (Flaticon, for example), or if you’re artistic and / or ambitious, you can create your own. Whether you use someone else’s or your own, save the image to Photos.
  • Now go back to the Shortcuts preview area. (You can find it again by going to the Details section and tapping on “Add to Home Screen.”) Tap on the icon under “Home Screen Name and Icon.” You’ll have the choice of either taking a photo, choosing a photo, or choosing a file. Assuming you’ve already saved an image in Photo, tap on “Choose Photo” and select the photo you want to use.
  • On the next screen, a highlighted area will indicate what part of the photo will appear as an icon; you can move the photo around until you’re happy with the section indicated. Tap “Choose” in the lower-right corner.
  • Now, you’ll see your new icon. Tap Add.
  • You should see your new customized icon on your home screen. Congrats!
  • There’s the possibility you may see two new icons on your home screen: one with the first boring icon, and one with your wonderful new icon. If that’s the case, just press and hold the icon that you don’t want, and then select “Delete bookmark.” Remember, this (and the other you created) is a bookmark / shortcut — not the original.
  • You can also hide the original app icon so you’ll just have the new one visible. (You don’t want to delete it completely, of course; that would delete the app.)
  • Long-press on the original app icon and select “Edit Home Screen”
  • Tap on the minus sign. On the pop-up menu, tap “Remove from Home Screen.” The original icon won’t be deleted, just hidden; you can always find it in the App Library.

One note: when you use your new icon to go to the app, you will occasionally get a small drop-down notice that tells you what the original app is called and to remind you of the fact that it is a shortcut. But the drop-down will only last for a second or two, so it shouldn’t be much of a bother.

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