How to add custom app icons to your homescreen

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With iOS 14 upon us, TikTok and Twitter kids alike are battling it out for who can have the most atheistically pleasing homescreen thanks to custom widgets and app icons. With the hyped-up “customize my iPhone” trend, people are also updating their app icons to either custom images, or retro icons from past iOS versions.

While it may seem like it, custom app icons aren’t entirely new and have properly been around since the introduction of Shortcuts on iOS 12. Even before that, using homescreen Safari bookmarks, users would have the freedom to make custom app icons. In light of the new trend, we thought we’d show you how to create your very own custom app icons.

We’ll do it using Shortcuts, an app that since iOS 13 comes pre-installed on your device. If you don’t have it installed, click here to download it from the App Store. Shortcuts can be a complicated app allowing users to make complex multi-step processes with system and 3rd party apps. For our use case, we’ll be using it in its most basic form.

The first thing you’ll want to do is create a new shortcut by pressing the “+” in the upper right-hand corner. Then you’ll want to add a new action and in the search bar at the top type in “Open app,” tap on it, and then search for whatever app you want to make a custom app icon for. For our example, we’ll be sticking to Instagram.

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Now you’ll want to select the share icon at the bottom of the screen and select “Add to Home Screen”. This step is where you get to decide what your new Instagram app icon will be. For our case, we’ll be using the retro iOS 6 Instagram icon. When prompted, tap on the icon, click “Choose Photo,” and select the new app icon or whatever custom image you’d like from your photo library. If you are using an older, or custom-designed app icon from Google, it’s best to ensure it’s the proper size and is decent quality. Once you’ve added your custom icon/image, add a name which should most realistically be the apps real name, and then click “Add” in the right-hand corner. Voila, you’re done!

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Now you have your custom app icon on your homescreen. It’s important to note that what you’re doing is not actually changing the app icon itself. Instead, you’re creating a shortcut with a custom icon that will redirect to your app. When you click on the new icon you’ll notice that your phone first opens the Shortcuts app, and then a few seconds later opens the real deal.

Now if you want to hide the actual app from your homescreen and just leave your custom icon, you can add the real app to your App Library on iOS 14, or create a separate folder on iOS 13 or older. Unfortunately, if you do intend to make a custom icon for each of your apps, the process can be a little cumbersome, but if you’re up for the challenge, go for it!

Share your iOS 14 homescreen with us on Twitter @AppleTerminal!

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Sami started falling in love with Apple in 2010 with the iPhone 4S. As a registered developer, he deeply admires the world of Apple. Sami is an aspiring journalist, writer, and actor. He also has devoted his life to sharing his passion and knowledge with others around the world.