How to customize your app icons with the Shortcuts app

Iphone 12 Pro Ios 14 Custom Hero
Iphone 12 Pro Ios 14 Custom Hero (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

With iOS 14, one of the most significant changes was the ability to customize Home screen app icons without the need for a jailbreak. However, this is not done natively but through the Shortcuts app. If you weren't aware, the Shortcuts app can be used for many things, such as automations and other valuable tools, to make your life easier. But one of the most popular use cases for it is definitely customizing your favorite iPhone's aesthetic. It may not be on the level of Android, but it's one step closer.

If you want to personalize your best iPhone or iPad to suit your tastes, then you'll want to customize those app icons with the Shortcuts app. The process is a little tedious, but the results can be well worth it, depending on how bad you want to customize. Here's how to do it in iOS 15.

Don't forget to check out our guide on getting started with Shortcuts for even more possibilities.

How to download an icon pack to your iOS device

The first step to customizing your iOS 14 app icons for a "pleasing aesthetic" Home screen is, well, downloading an icon pack on to your device. If you want some ideas, I highly recommend the Depths icon pack, which is the one that I'm currently using. You can also find plenty of other themes and icon packs that others use on r/iOSsetups if you want inspiration. However, keep in mind that some icon packs may be available for free, but others need to be purchased first before you get access.

  1. Find a download link for the icon pack you want to purchase or download.
  2. Click the download button.
  3. In Safari, tap on the Downloads icon to check the progress.

Download an icon pack to your iOS device by showing: Click Download on your pack, then tap the Download button to view progress and cancel or jump to Files (Image credit: iMore)
  1. By default, any downloads from Safari will be found in the Downloads folder in the Files app (under iCloud Drive).

View downloaded icon pack in Files by showing: Launch Files, tap Downloads (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Locate the folder with your icons in the Files app to view your icons. I recommend taking a look first so you know what icons are available to you.

View downloaded icon packs in Files by showing: Tap your icon pack, view your icons (Image credit: iMore)

How to customize an app icon in Shortcuts

Once you have your favorite icon pack downloaded, it's time to start customizing your iOS 14 Home screen pages however you'd like. Here is the basic process for changing one icon (repeat these steps for however many app icons you want to customize).

  1. Launch the Shortcuts app on your iPhone or iPad (if you don't have it installed, make sure to download it first).
  2. Tap the New Shortcut button (+) in the top right.

Customize app icon in Shortcuts on iOS 15: Launch Shortcuts, tap New Shortcut (Image credit: iMore)
  1. If you see Open App appear under Next Action Suggestions, tap it to skip to step 7.
  2. Tap Add Action.

Customize app icon in Shortcuts on iOS 15: Tap Add Action, or if Open App shows up under Next Actions, tap that (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Under Categories, tap Scripting.
  2. Under Apps, tap Open App.
  3. Tap App and select the app you want the shortcut to open.

Customize app icon in Shortcuts on iOS 15: Under Categories, tap Scripting, tap Open App, tap App (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap the More button at the top (it's blue with three sliders).
  2. Under Details, tap Add to Home Screen.

Customize app icon in Shortcuts on iOS 15: Select app, tap More button, tap Add to Home Screen (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap the text field to give your Home Screen shortcut a name.
  2. Tap the icon to bring up a menu.
  3. Tap Choose File.
  4. Locate and select the custom app icon that you want to use.

Customize app icon in Shortcuts on iOS 15: Tap text field to give it a name, tap icon to bring up menu, tap Choose File, locate and select your icon (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap Add.
  2. Your custom app icon will now appear on the Home Screen, but you're not done quite yet.
  3. Back in the Shortcuts app, tap Done to close out the Details/More menu.
  4. Make sure to give your shortcut a name in the Create Shortcut screen.
  5. Tap the X button in the top right corner to save.

Customize app icon in Shortcuts on iOS 15: Tap Add, tap Done, tap the X to save (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Repeat steps 2-18 for as many icons as you need.

When you have all of your necessary app icons changed, you can now rearrange them as you see fit. For even more personalization, you can check out the best home screen customization apps for widgets and take it a step further.

Just be warned, once you open your apps with these custom shortcuts, you will see a banner at the top for a brief moment indicating that you essentially launched a shortcut. This is just how it is right now, unfortunately, but at least it goes away by itself after about three seconds, or you can now swipe it away immediately if you prefer. However, it's still a big step up from the previous version, which launched the Shortcuts app first before taking you to your actual app.

However, it seems that this will be changing in iOS 15.4 and beyond, which is currently in beta. With iOS 15.4, there will be an option to turn off banner notifications for Shortcuts automations.

Create your own aesthetic Home screen

As you can see, customizing your app icons in iOS 15 is not too hard, but it can be tedious depending on the number of icons you want to change up. Still, it's a relatively straightforward process, and I'm glad that Apple is starting to open up a little about customization. Hopefully, we can get a way to change app icons natively in future versions of iOS.

Christine Chan

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed. When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.