How to Change App Icons and Widgets on iPhone and iPad and Customize them Easily? [Updated 2022]

If this question “how to change app icons on iPhone?” wasn’t as tricky to answer, then we or anyone else wouldn’t be doing an editorial piece covering custom app icons on iPhone. But before we move to the solution, Build-up is really important, isn’t it?

Guess what? With iOS 14, Apple finally allows its users to customize iPhone icons and add widgets on the home screen. *Laughs in Android*

Simply said, you can now finally customize your boring iOS 14 home screen to match your own style. By the way, Android users have been doing this for a decade.

Okay no more belittling Apple for a relatively slow start with the customization part. Let’s appreciate Apple for making iOS 14 more customizable, allowing users to experiment with the home screen on their iPhones/iPad. Now Apple users can add widgets and change app icons to match their own style. And the buzz about this is all over the place. From TikTok to Twitter and from Instagram to Pinterest; Apple users have been sharing and flaunting their customized iOS 14 home screen setups everywhere. (Hint: You can use those setups as an inspiration to make your own.)

Now if you are new to all this and don’t know how to customize icons on iPhone?. We have got you all covered in this guide on customizing the iOS 14 home screen. So let’s begin, shall we?

Also read: Customize your Windows 10 taskbar like a pro! 

How to Change App Icons on the iPhone?

Unlike Android, where all you need to do is install an App Icon Pack and Widget from the Google Play Store to change the look and feel of your Android’s home screen. While on the iOS, it’s not that simple as it involves a series of steps before you could actually see your iOS home screen with custom app icons and widgets in action. (Of course, with some limitations.)

But before going ahead with the actual iOS 14 home screen customization part, make sure your Apple device is on iOS 14 update. If you are still on the older version of iOS, go to Settings > General > Software Update and then tap on Download and Install to install the new iOS 14 update on your Apple device.

update ios14 mrnoob

Now that you are on the latest version of iOS on your iPhone/iPad, you need to check the Shortcuts app, which does come preinstalled on iOS. However, if you have uninstalled it assuming bloatware, head over to App Store and download it again.

The premise for customization is ready now. This leaves you to find a custom app icon pack that matches the style of aesthetics you want to achieve on your iPhone home screen. There are plenty of free and paid icon packs available to download all over the internet. But for some reason, I couldn’t find the one that fits the style I was looking for. So I designed a couple of icon packs for myself. And we will be using one of the iOS icon pack that I designed in this iPhone home screen customization process. You can buy those custom ios icon pack from here and support my work. (Appreciate it!)

etsy ios icon buy

Once you get your custom icons set, make sure they are on your iPhone/iPad. I would recommend you to download and save custom icons in the Files app, over the Photos app to so that you can easily search them by their names.

Step 1: Customizing App Icons on iPhone

For this part, we are solely dependent upon the Shortcuts app, where we have to manually add custom app icons for each of the apps that we want on your iPhone’s home screen. There are two methods to do this; one is more flexible but time-consuming, while the other is fast but comes with its own caveats. We will be going through both methods so that you can go with the one you are comfortable with.

Method 1 – Using the Shortcuts app directly. [Default method to customize iPhone icons, Slow but more flexible]

This is the direct method, in which we will create a shortcut to open one of the installed apps with custom icons. The major downside to this method is that whenever you open any app with the themed icon, it will show a notification banner right after opening the app. And you will have to make shortcut of every app individually, creating multiple shortcut instances within the app. Now some people might find this annoying as there will be a banner overlay for a second after opening the app. In that case, head over to Method #2.

Now that it’s sorted let’s see how to change the custom app icon on iPhone using Shortcuts App:

1. Open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone and tap on the + sign on the top right corner.

add shortcut ios mrnoob

2. Now tap on ‘Add Actions‘.

add actions shortcut ios mrnoob

3. Inside ‘App Actions‘, tap on ‘Choose‘ under ‘Scripting‘. Now look for ‘Open App‘ and choose the app that you want to open with the icon of your choice.

open app shortcut ios mrnoob

4. Now tap on the 3-dot menu on the top right below the ‘Next‘ button, give your shortcut a name (preferably app name) and then tap on ‘Add to Home Screen‘.

add to home screen shortcut ios mrnoob

5. Now type in the app name into the text box. Then tap on the icon beside the text box and tap on ‘Choose Files‘. (If you have extracted/downloaded custom iOS icon pack in Photos app, then tap on ‘Choose Photos‘)

change shortcut icon ios mrnoob

6. Now look for your desired app icon, tap on it to set it as your new app icon, and then tap on ‘add‘ to the top right corner to add an icon on your home icon name shortcut ios mrnoob

7. You will get a popup saying ‘Added to Home Screen‘. Just tap on ‘done‘ and then ‘done‘ again to complete the process.

final shortcut ios mrnoob

8. Voila, You will now be seeing a new app icon on your iPhone’s home screen with the custom icon of your choice. You will have to repeat the same steps for all the apps that you want on the iOS home screen.

Method 2 – Using the Icons Themer Shortcut inside the Shortcuts App. [Fast method to customize iPhone icons, Shows no notification banner after opening apps but doesn’t support system apps properly]

Icon Themer is a custom shortcut that you can use for theming your iPhone home screen icons. The major benefit of Icon Themer over the default method is that it launches the apps directly without showing any notification banner. Also, using the default method you need to create an individual shortcut for every app, which is a tiresome task. But with Icons Themer shortcut, you can create the shortcut of multiple apps in a single shortcut instance with custom icons.

So let’s see how to use Icons Themer Shortcut to change app icons on the iPhone.

1. First you need to allow the installation of untrusted shortcuts from iOS settings. Go to Settings > Shortcuts and toggle on ‘Allow Untrusted Shortcuts‘, this will let you install Shortcuts from the 3rd party sources. [If you have never used the Shortcuts App, you might see the toggle greyed out, in that case, you will have to run a random shortcut from the Shortcuts app for enabled that option. So go back to the shortcuts app and run a default shortcut from the list.]

allow untrusted shortcuts ios mrnoob

2. Now open this link to Icons Themer Shortcuts on RoutineHub and tap on the ‘Get Shortcut‘ button. This will open the shortcuts app for reviewing the Icons Themer shortcut.

get shortcut icon themer routinehub mrnoob

3. Scroll the review page until the bottom and there tap on ‘Add Untrusted Shortcut‘ to install the Icons Themer shortcut.

add untrusted shortcuts icon themer mrnoob

4. Now you’ll see a ‘Configure This Shortcut‘ page, where you just have to configure the shortcut for your device. Go with the default options and on the last page tap on ‘Done‘ to add the Icons Themer shortcuts inside your Shortcuts app.

configure this profile icon themer shortcut mrnoob

5. Tap on the ‘My Shortcuts‘ section, then tap on ‘Icon Themer‘ and click ‘ok‘ to allow final access. [Before heading over to the next step make sure you have all the custom icons downloaded on your iPhone. If you still haven’t, go back and download/transfer all the custom icons on your iPhone]

icon themer installed ios mrnoob

6. Now tap on ‘Search in App Store‘ and type in the name of the app that you want to add to your home screen. [This option will only work for 3rd party apps. If you want to add custom icons to your system apps, tap on ‘System Apps‘, instead of ‘Search in App Store‘ and it will pop up the list of all system app to choose from.]

search in app store icon themer mrnoob

7. An app list will popup, choose your app from the list and then allow Icon Themer to access iTunes.

itunes access icon themer mrnoob

8. Now you will have to choose a custom icon for your chosen app. Tap on ‘Choose from Files‘ and browse for the custom icon that you want to display on your chosen app, then click on it to set it as your default icon for the app shortcut. [If you are using my icons pack, you can simply search the app icons with their name to speed up the process as all the app icons are named properly.]

choose from files icon themer mrnoob

9. You can also set a custom name to your shortcut, however, I’d suggest you stay with the default and tap on ‘Done‘.

name label icon themer mrnoob

10. Now repeat this process from Step 6 to Step 9, until you theme all the icons of your choice and once you are done, tap on ‘Create my Icons‘ and then give your set up a name and save it.

create my icons icon themer mrnoob

11. Shortcuts app will now ask you to choose a location for you to save your new custom app icon setup. You can either choose iCloud Drive or On My Phone or Google Drive. So choose the one that fits your thing and tap on ‘Save‘ to save the file to your desired location.

save profile icon themer mrnoob

12. This will open your default browser to download a configuration profile, tap on ‘Allow‘ to download the configuration profile. After successful download, tap on the big ‘Continue‘ button and then tap on ‘Install‘ and follow the instructions to install the profile on your iPhone.

install profile ios mrnoob

13. Congratulation, You will now see all your themed app shortcuts with custom icons of your choice on your iPhone’s home screen.

Step 2: Adding a custom widget

So all the custom app icons are set, now we will need custom widgets for the iPhone’s home screen to match the aesthetics. Since iOS 14, Apple unlocks the functionality of the widgets in the iPhone, allowing users to add useful app widgets on their iPhone’s home screen. However, the default widgets don’t offer many customizations to match the aesthetic that we are trying to achieve here.

To fulfill that need we will be using a third-party widget-maker app called WidgetSmith, which lets you create a few custom widgets to match with your iPhone’s aesthetics.

Let begin with making a custom widget for your iPhone.

1. Download and install the WidgetSmith from the Apple App Store. WidgetSmith app is available for free, with an in-app purchase subscription to unlock advanced widgets. However, for this, we can settle with the free version of this app.

install widgetsmith ios mrnoob

2. First we have to add a dummy WidgetSmith widget on the home screen. Long-press the iPhone’s home screen, then tap on the + button and search for ‘WidgetSmith‘. Tap on WidgetSmith from the result and add a ‘Medium‘ widget on your iPhone home screen.

add widgetsmith mrnoob

3. Click on the newly created widget to open the WidgetSmith app and choose from the size of the widget that you want on your iPhone home screen. Since we have added a Medium-sized WidgetSmith widget, tap on the ‘Medium #1‘ widget and then tap on ‘Default widget‘ to open the list of the available widget within the WidgetSmith app.

select medium widgetsmith mrnoob

4. Now choose from the list of widgets and once you are done, tap on ‘Aesthetic/Theme‘ located at the bottom of the screen to open theme options for the said widget. Scroll down until you see the ‘Custom‘ theme widget and then tap on the ‘Customize Theme‘ button.

customize theme widgetsmith mrnoob

5. You will have a variety of options to change within the chosen widget, such as Font, Tint color, Background Color, Border Color, and Adding an artwork. You can change all of the options as per your iPhone theme.

customize theme option widgetsmith mrnoob

6. And once you are done tap ‘Save‘ to save the current theme config and then go back, rename your widget, and tap on ‘Save‘ again to save the current widget. Now go to your iPhone home screen to see the new widget in action.

save widget widgetsmith mrnoob

Step 4: Adding a matching wallpaper.

A good theme requires a matching high-quality wallpaper to match with the theme aesthetic. Since here I am trying to achieve a seamless aesthetic look on my iPhone home screen, I will be using the clean black color wallpaper to match with the custom icon color giving my iPhone home screen a clean aesthetic look.

Step 5: Organizing your iPhone screen. [And removing icons and widgets from the original setup]

We have our home screen apps sorted with the custom app icons, we have a custom widget with the matching aesthetics and wallpaper. Now, all we have to do is organizing the iPhone’s home screen the way suits us. You can take all the time in the world to do, either go with the setup that was already working for you or give this one a fresh start.

Once you are done with the new setup, remove all the widgets and apps from the previous setup to your app library.

1. Long press on the app icon that you want to remove, then tap on the ‘Remove‘ app.

remove app ios mrnoob

2. Then click on ‘Remove from Home Screen‘ to send your app to ‘App Library‘, which you can access by swiping right on your iPhone’s home screen. Repeat the process for all the app.

remove from homescreen ios mrnoob

As soon as all the apps from the previous setup are removed, you will end see your new iOS 14 home screen in all its glory matching with your vibe. Congratulations!

FAQ: How to customize your iOS 14 home screen with custom app icons and widgets?

Which method is best for changing app icons?

I’d personally go with Method 2 since it allows you to change multiple icons within one single shortcut. It also opens all the 3rd party apps without banner notification. However, for the system app, the default custom icons method makes more sense. So it all boils down to your choice. One can use both the methods in conjunction with each other.

Is there any downside to changing icons on my iPhone?

Apart from the delay in opening system apps, none of the customized iOS apps will show a notification badge over the app icon. So if that is something more important to your workflow, then you should stick to the default icons style on your iPhone.

How to reset iOS custom icons back to their original state?

Just long-press on the apps with custom icons and tap on ‘Delete Bookmark‘ to delete those apps. Once all the apps are deleted, go to your ‘App Library‘, long press on the app that you want to add back on to your home screen, and select ‘Add to Home Screen‘. Do this for all the app you want and they will reappear on your iPhone’s home screen.


About the author

Anubhav Bhatnagar
Anubhav Bhatnagar
Your friendly neighbor who spends most of his time learning and sharing what he has learned with everyone. He is a fan of flat design and is into minimalism. Connect with him @AnooBav on all social platforms.


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