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How to Customize Your iPhone App Icons & Make Your Home Screen Pretty

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Writer, Productivity & Phone Organization

Lise is a master of phone organization and a nerd of the internet! She writes a regular column for Gotechtor focusing on quick tips for decluttering and organizing your phone to be more productive, while still keeping it aesthetic.

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Making custom iPhone app icons is a great way to customize your home screen aesthetic and give it a fresh look.

You can redesign the app icons on your home screen in any style you wish, and it’s super easy and fun to do.

You don’t need to be a designer or a techie person, nor do you need any expensive photo editing tools for this. With the help of a few free tools, you can give your iPhone home screen a facelift.

Create Custom App Icons on iPhone

Before we get started, here’s what you’re going to need to create custom iPhone app icons:

  1. Your iPhone needs iOS 14 or later.
  2. Canva’s free version (Although the paid version would get you more features, you can survive with the free one).
  3. Shortcuts app (It’s a free app that comes with your iPhone)
  4. You can either use your iPhone or a desktop computer. (whichever works best for you)

1. Create a 1024 X 1024 Pixels Design

These will be the dimensions of your custom app so they can look good when they’re sized down on your home screen.

Log in to your Canva account. If you don’t have an account, sign up for one; it’s free. Click the purple “Create a new design” button at the top right of the screen.

Alternatively, click the “Custom size” button below it or search for “iOS icon” in the search bar.

2. Add a Background Image/Color

After creating your design dimensions, you’ll have a blank canvas to work on. Choose your desired color or background that fits your aesthetic.

To add a color, click anywhere on the canvas, then click the background color at the top left of the screen. Pick the color that you want, and then you can start with the app icon.

Click the “Photos” or “Background” buttons in the left toolbar to add a photo or a background to your canvas.

If you want to use your own image, click the “Uploads” button to upload the image you want for your background.

Be mindful that you won’t be able to use premium elements (the ones that say Pro) on a free account. For that, you’d need to upgrade your account.

3. Add Your App Icons

To add an icon to your design, you can use Canva’s vast library of icons or add your own.

Click on “Elements” and search for the icon that you want. Let’s try Pinterest. Feel free to resize the icon to your desired size and center it horizontally and vertically on the canvas.

To do so, click the icon, then click “Position” at the top. This will open a panel on the left with a bunch of options to choose from. Under the “Align to page” section, select “Center” and “Middle.”

4. Edit Your iCon Colors

As you can see, the black icon on a dark green background doesn’t look appealing to the eyes. Let’s change that.

To edit the color of the icon, select it and click the color box at the top left of the screen. From there, pick the color that you want for your icon.

I can either go with a white or a light green icon for this design. Let’s find a cool light green color for the icon.

5. Save Your Design

Once you’re done and happy with your icon, you can save the design. Click the “Share” button at the top right, then click “Download.”

To save time and streamline the process, you can create a collection of app icons within a single design project.

Add a new page after each icon to design multiple icons within the same project. After completing the designs, save them to your phone’s camera roll or the “Files app” for easy access.

Name each icon page to ensure each design has a specific name when saved. This will simplify searching and locating specific app icons in the phone’s File App.

How to Change Your App Icons With Shortcuts

Now that you’ve created your custom iPhone apps, how do you actually add them to your home screen?

That’s where the Shortcuts app comes into play. If you are unfamiliar with this app, it’s a tool by Apple that automates specific tasks (or sequences of tasks) on your iPhone.

Check our guide to learn how to create a shortcut on your iPhone. Now, let’s use the Shortcuts app to add custom icons to your iPhone home screen.

1. Launch the Shortcuts app on your iPhone and hit the plus sign (+) at the top right, directing you to the New Shortcut page.

create new shortcut

2. Select the Add Action button.

add action in Shortcuts

3. Press the Scripting option.

scripting action in Shortcuts

4. Tap Open App, then select “App” highlighted in blue.

open app action shortcut

Alternatively, you can search for “Open App” in the search bar at the bottom of the screen. You may also see Open App appear under Next Action Suggestions.

5. Search for the app you’re creating a custom icon for. In my case, I’m going to pick Pinterest.

pinterest app in shortcuts

6. After picking the app, tap “i” at the bottom of the screen, then select “Add to Home Screen.”

shortcut add icon to home screen

7. Tap on New Shortcut to rename the app. (could be the same as the original app or your own custom name.

rename app shortcut

8. Tap the shortcut icon to change the image. Select Choose Photo (or Choose File if you downloaded an icon to your iPhone).

choose file for icon image shortcut

9. Then, tap “Add” at the top right of the screen.

add icon shortcut on iPhone

10. The new app icon will appear on your Home Screen.

custom pinterest icon on iPhone home screen

11. Open the Shortcuts app again and tap “Done” twice to return to the main screen.

finish custom icon shortcut on iPhone

12. Tap the three dots on the shortcut you just created.

13. Tap “Open App” at the top, and tap Rename to give your shortcut a name. I like to give it a descriptive name. That way, I know what each shortcut does at a glance.

rename iphone shortcut

Creating a custom iPhone icon with the Shortcuts app won’t replace the original icon on your Home Screen, so you’ll need to hide the original app.

Wrap-Up: Create Custom iPhone Apps

It’s worth mentioning that while designing personalized icons is entertaining, it has its limitations.

For instance, tapping the personalized icon doesn’t lead straight to the app. It first launches the Shortcuts app, which then redirects you to the desired app.

Moreover, you won’t have the extended press menu features the original icon offers. With a custom icon, your long-press options are limited to either Edit Home Screen or Delete Bookmark, which is the custom icon.

Writer, Productivity & Phone Organization

Lise is a master of phone organization and a nerd of the internet! She writes a regular column for Gotechtor focusing on quick tips for decluttering and organizing your phone to be more productive, while still keeping it aesthetic.

Lise Dieuveuil

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