How to use custom app icons on your iPhone and iPad

Justin duino

If you are tired of seeing the same old app icons on your iPhone or iPad home screen, you can customize their appearance by creating new ones and “replacing” them. The trick is possible by using Apple’s Shortcuts app, which allows you to use any image as an icon.

How it works?

Currently, it is not possible to really replace an app icon on an iPhone or iPad. Instead, you can achieve a similar result using the Shortcuts app. We’re going to create a custom shortcut that opens an app and then use a custom image as an icon on the home screen.

This technique has been possible since the introduction of shortcuts in iOS 12, but it became popular after the release of iOS 14, which allows you to officially hide Home screen icons in your app library.

IPhone owners running iOS 12 or iOS 13 – or iPad owners with iPadOS 12 or 13 – can do the same trick and put the original icons they don’t want to see in folders for storage. the gap.

Preparing a replacement icon image

Before you begin, you’ll need to decide which app icon you’re replacing, and you’ll need to locate or create the image you want to replace it with.

The ideal replacement icon will be a perfectly square image of approximately 512 x 512 pixels, although you will have the option to crop any image to a square shape in the next few steps. For this example, we created a simple purple mail icon in an image editor using a simple envelope outline.

Examples of custom images in iPhone Photos.

For your custom icon, you can use any image or photo you want as long as it’s in your device’s photo library. Try Google searching for custom icon designs and saving them, or you can draw your own icon and upload it to your iPhone or iPad using AirDrop.

RELATED: How to Instantly Share Files with AirDrop on iPhone, iPad, and Mac

“Replace” iPhone and iPad app icons with custom designs

First, open the “Shortcuts” application. If you don’t see it on your home screen, swipe down with one finger in the middle of your screen to open Spotlight search. Type “shortcuts” into the search bar that appears, then tap the “Shortcuts” icon.

In the Shortcuts application, if you see the “Shortcuts” overview screen, tap the “My shortcuts” tab, then select “All shortcuts”.

Faucet "My shortcuts" and "All shortcuts" on iPhone.

On the “All shortcuts” page, press the “+” button.

Press the plus (+) button.

Then you will see a “New Shortcut” page where you add the automation steps, much like a computer program. We will add a single step that opens an application. Press the “Add action” button.

Faucet "Add action" in Shortcuts on iPhone.

When the action panel appears, choose the “Scripting” option.

Faucet "Script."

In the “Scripts” panel, select “Open Application”.

Faucet "Open application."

Back on the new shortcut page, locate the box for the “Open application” action. Press “Choose”.

Faucet "To choose"

In the “Choose an app” panel that appears, select the search bar and enter the name of the app you want to launch when you tap your custom icon. Then tap the name of the app in the results list. You can choose any app on your iPhone or iPad.

Find the app you want to open.

Next, tap on the three-dot menu button in the upper right corner. On an iPad, these dots are at the top center of the screen next to the name “New Shortcut”.

Press the ellipsis (three dots) button.

A “Details” panel will appear. First, tap “Shortcut Name” and name the shortcut whatever you want, so that it is correctly labeled in the Shortcuts app. Then press “Add to home screen”.

In the panel that appears, locate the “Home screen name and icon” section. Select the placeholder icon to the left of “New Shortcut”.

In the pop-up menu that appears, select “Choose a photo”.

Faucet "Choose Photo."

Using the photo selector panel that appears, find and choose the photo from your library that you want to use as a new custom app icon. After selecting it, you will have the option to crop it to match the square ratio of a standard app icon.

After that, tap on the name “New Shortcut”. Enter the label you want to use for the icon on your home screen. Ideally, this will be the name of the app icon you are replacing, such as “Safari” or “Mail”.

Type the name of the shortcut.

Finally, press the “Add” button and your shortcut will be added to your home screen.

Faucet "Add"

Once the custom icon is on your home screen, you can move the app icon anywhere you want, including the Dock. To run the app, tap the shortcut icon you just created.

If you want to hide the original app icon (and you’re using iOS 14 or later), enter Jiggle mode by long-pressing an empty area on your home screen, then drag the icon to your app library.

Faucet "Move to app library"

If you are using iOS 12 or iOS 13, or if you are using an iPad (which does not have an app library), you can “hide” the original app icon by dragging it to a folder that you want. you can place on another screen.

RELATED: How to move iPhone apps from a home screen to the app library

The only downside to this technique is that when launching an app through your shortcut, you first take a quick detour through the Shortcuts app before the actual app appears. At the moment, this is a necessary drawback, but the behavior may change in a future update. Have fun personalizing your device!


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