Apple’s iOS 14 introduced a wide range of new features and functions for your iPhone, from the App Library to home screen widgets. It also introduced a feature that has flown a little under the radar: The ability to change app icons on your iPhone. This is a simple tweak to pull off, yet it’s not immediately clear how you can do it, with Apple under-publicizing the feature in comparison to other iOS 14 additions.
Fortunately, this article explains just how to change app icons on your iPhone, which involves adding shortcuts to your home screen that are disguised as the apps you want to change.
How to change app icons on your iPhone
There’s no option to change the actual icons used by your apps on the home screen. Instead, you have to create app-opening shortcuts using the Shortcuts app. Doing this gives you the ability to choose the icon for each shortcut, which effectively lets you change app icons.
Here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Open the Shortcuts app. (Reinstall it first using the App Store if you’ve removed it from your iPhone.)
Step 2: Tap the + button in the top-right corner of the screen. Next, tap the Search Bar at the bottom of the screen (it says Search for Apps and Actions). Lastly, type “open app” into the search bar, and then tap Open App once it appears under the Actions heading.
Step 3: Tap Choose under the Scripting heading. Now choose the app you’d like to change, and then tap the More button in the top-right corner of the screen.
Step 4: Tap Add to Home Screen. Next, under the Home Screen Name and Icon heading, tap New Shortcut to change the name of the shortcut (you can change it to the name of the app). Then, tap the icon next to the shortcut’s name, which brings up a sub-menu that lets you decide what to replace the default icon with.
Step 5: Tap either Take Photo or Choose Photo. If taking a photo, take the photo as normal, and then tap Use Photo. If choosing a photo, scroll through your previously taken photos, tap on the one you’d like to use, and then tap Choose. Finally, tap Add, which adds the shortcut to your home screen.
There you go — you now have a customized app icon on your home screen. However, keep in mind that this is not the app itself but rather a shortcut for the app, so tapping on it will briefly load the Shortcuts app before loading the app itself.
Some things to remember
Aside from the fact that you’re customizing the icons for shortcuts rather than the actual apps, there are a few other things worth keeping in mind.
Firstly, if the app whose icon you wanted to change was already on your home screen, it will remain on your home screen after adding a shortcut for it. This means you’ll effectively have the same app twice on your home screen. As such, you may want to tidy things up by tapping and holding on the actual app and then choosing Remove App from the sub-menu that appears. Next, choose Remove from Home Screen, which will send the app to your App Library. Don’t delete it; otherwise, your new shortcut (with the new app icon) won’t work.
Secondly, some people have been very inventive in creating new app icons to use via Shortcuts. For example, some have hand-drawn or painted new icons for their apps, photographed their handiwork, and then used these photos as the icons for their new shortcuts. In other words, the sky’s the limit when it comes to dreaming up new icons for your apps, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box.