How to make custom Home page icons for iPhoneSource: Joseph Keller / iMore

With the release of iOS 14, iPhone users have greater control over their Home Screens than ever before, thanks to the introductions of Home Screen widgets. These widgets disrupt the standard grid that we've been using for 13 years, from the original iPhone to the latest and greatest iPhones, and allow people to create a more personalized experience for the first time (assuming they've never jailbroken their device, that is).

But some people are taking things a step further thanks to the Shortcuts app. While many third-party apps let you change their icons, you can't use a completely custom set for all of your apps. You also can't change the icons for Apple's default apps. But thanks to the Shortcuts app and iOS 14's App Library feature, you can do something similar.

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The ins and outs of custom Home page icons

So, no, you can't actually give an app a custom icon. What you can do instead, though, is make a shortcut that opens an app, give that a custom icon, and relegate the app itself to your App Library.

This is done by sending your app-opening shortcut to the Home Screen, and including a custom icon from photos or the Files app.

Keep in mind that once this is done, whenever you launch an app from a custom icon, you'll first be taken to the Shortcuts app, then immediately to your intended app. You don't need to do anything about it, but you'll always head to the app you want to open through Shortcuts first.

How to create custom Home page icons for apps on your iPhone

For this walkthrough, I'll use a custom icon for the Messages app, but this will work with any app on your iPhone.

  1. Open Shortcuts on your iPhone.
  2. Tap the + button in the upper-right corner.
  3. Tap Add Action.

    Create custom Home Screen icons, showing how  to open Shortcuts, then tap +, then tap Add ActionSource: iMore

  4. Tap Scripting.
  5. Tap Open App.
  6. Tap the blue Choose field.

    Create custom Home Screen icons, showing how to tap Scripting, then tap Open App, then tap the blue Choose fieldSource: iMore

  7. Tap the app you want to use. In this case, we're using Messages.
  8. Tap the ... button near the upper-right corner of the screen.
  9. Enter a name for your shortcut. I suggest using the name of the app you'll be replacing.

    Create custom Home Screen icons, showing how to tap the app you want to use, then tap ..., then enter a name for your shortcutSource: iMore

  10. Tap Add to Home Screen.
  11. Enter the name of the shortcut under Home Screen Name and Icon.
  12. Tap the icon under Home Screen Name and Icon.

    Create custom Home Screen icons, showing how to tap Add to Home Screen, then enter a name, then tap the icon under Home Screen Name and IconSource: iMore

  13. Tap Choose File or Choose Photo. In this case, we're choosing a File.
  14. Navigate to the location of your file or photo.

    Create custom Home Screen icons, showing how to tap Choose File or Choose Photo, then navigate to a file locationSource: iMore

  15. Tap on the file or photo that you want to use.
  16. Tap Add.

    Create custom Home Screen icons, showing how to tap a file or photo, then tap AddSource: iMore

Now that the Shortcut is on the Home Screen, you need to hide the app you want to open.

  1. Tap and hold on the app you want to hide until the contextual menu pops up.
  2. Tap Remove App.
  3. Tap Remove from Home Screen. The app will still be available through the App Library.

    Hide apps in App Library, showing how to tap and hold an app, then tap Remove App, then tap Remove from Home ScreenSource: iMore

Now you should be ready to go. I used a custom set of shortcuts icons from the fine folks over at MacStories, but you can use any sort of image you can find as the icon for your app launcher.

It's my fervent hope that Apple will see how much people want to customize their Home Screens and give users the tools to make it easier (say, an icon uploader in Settings, or something like that) in a future software update. And perhaps let us hide the app name labels, which Apple already does for apps in the dock, for a cleaner look.

Maybe this time...

Questions?

If you have any questions about how to create custom Home page icons for apps on your iPhone, let us know in the comments.

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