If you are tired of seeing the same old app icons on your iPhone or iPad home screen, you can customize their look by creating new ones and “replacing”; them. The trick is possible with Apple’s shortcut app, which lets you use any image as an icon.
How does it work?
Currently, it is not possible to really replace an apps icon on an iPhone or iPad. Instead, you can achieve a similar result with the Shortcuts app. We create a custom shortcut that opens an app and then uses a custom image as its icon on the home screen.
This technology has been possible since the introduction of shortcuts in iOS 12, but it became popular after the launch of iOS 14, allowing you to officially hide icons on the home screen of 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 place the original icons they do not want to see in folders to stop them.
Prepare a replacement icon image
Before we begin, you need to decide which app icon to replace and you need to find or create the image you want to replace it with.
The perfect replacement icon will be a perfect square image of approximately 512 x 512 pixels in size, although you will be able to crop any image in square shape in the coming steps. In this example, we’ve created a simple purple email icon in an image editor using a simple envelope outline.
For your custom icon, you can use any image or photo you want as long as it is in the device’s photo library. Try searching Google for custom icon designs and save them, or you can draw your own icon and transfer it to your iPhone or iPad with AirDrop.
RELATED: How to instantly share AirDrop files on iPhone, iPad and Mac
“Replace” iPhone and iPad app icons with custom patterns
First open the “Shortcuts” app. If you do not see it on your home screen, swipe down with one finger in the center of the screen to open Spotlight Search. Type “shortcuts” in the search bar that appears, then tap the “Shortcuts” icon.
If you see the “Shortcuts” overview screen in the Shortcuts app, tap the “My Shortcuts” tab and then select “All Shortcuts.”
On the “All shortcuts” page, press the “+” button.
Then you will see a “New shortcut” page where you add the steps in the automation, much like a computer program. We’ll add a single step that opens an app. Press the “Add action” button.
When the Actions panel appears, select the “Scripts” option.
Select “Open app” in the “Scripts” panel.
Back on the new shortcut page, find the box for the “Open app” action. Press “Select”.
In the “Select app” panel that appears, select the search field and type the name of the app you want to launch when you tap your custom icon. Then tap the app name in the results list. You can choose any app on your iPhone or iPad.
Then press the menu button with three dots in the upper right corner. On an iPad, these dots are located at the top center of the screen next to the name “New Shortcut”.
A “Details” panel appears. First press “Shortcut name” and name the shortcut to everything you want, so that it is properly marked in the shortcut app. Then tap “Add to Home Screen.”
Locate the “Home screen name and icon” section in the panel that appears. Select the placeholder icon to the left of “New Shortcut.”
In the pop-up menu that appears, select “Select Photo.”
Find and select the photo in your library that you want to use as your new custom app icon using the photo selection panel that appears. Once you have selected it, you have a chance to crop it to fit the square aspect ratio of a standard app icon.
Then press the name “New shortcut”. Enter the label you want to use for the icon on the Home screen. Preferably, this is the name of the app icon you are replacing, such as “Safari” or “Mail”.
Finally, press the “Add” button and your shortcut will be added to your home screen.
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.
To hide the original app icon (and you’re running iOS 14 or later), enter Jiggle mode by tapping and holding an empty area on the Home screen, and then move the icon to your app library.
If you run iOS 12 or iOS 13 or use an iPad (which does not have an app library), you can “hide” the original app icon by moving it to a folder that you can place on another screen.
RELATED: To move iPhone apps from a Home screen to the Apps library
The only downside to this technology is that when you launch an app via your shortcut, you first make a quick detour through the shortcut app before the actual app appears. Currently, this is a necessary disadvantage, but the behavior may change in a future update. Have fun customizing your device!