Customize App Icons on Your iPhone Using Shortcuts

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

iPhone app icon customization is a great way to personalize your device or hide apps by disguising them. There are two ways to do this: you can download a third-party app to change your icons or use the free Apple Shortcuts app to create a custom aesthetic for your Home Screen. We'll show you how to customize your iPhone icons using the Shortcuts app and recommend some great ways to find alternate app icon images.

Why You'll Love This Tip:

  • Change app icons to help you find the app more quickly or hide apps by disguising them. 
  • Create a fully personalized iPhone Home Screen that perfectly suits your aesthetic taste and style. 

How to Change App Icons with Shortcuts

System Requirements

This tip works on iPhones running iOS 16 or later. Find out how to update to the latest version of iOS.

If you don't already have the Apple Shortcuts app, you'll need to download it from the App Store before changing app icons. Using the Shortcuts app, you can set any image to be used as an app icon. This custom app icon then functions as a shortcut to the corresponding app in the App Library, so you can still tap your custom icon to open the app as you usually do. Here's how to customize app icons using the Shortcuts app:

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  1. To change your app icons, start by opening the Shortcuts app.

    Open the Shortcuts app.
  2. Navigate to the Shortcuts tab if you're not already there, and tap on the plus icon located in the top right corner of the main app screen.

    Navigate to the Shortctus tab if you're not already there, and tap on the + icon located on the top right of the main app screen.
  3. Select Add Action.

    Select Add Action.
  4. Use the search bar at the top of the screen to type Open App.

    Select Add Action.
  5. Tap on Open App.

    Tap on Open App.
  6. Next, tap App.

    Next, tap App.
  7. Tap the app you want to create a custom icon for. If you don't see the app you're looking for, you can also type the app name in the search bar at the top of the screen.

    Tap the app you wish to create a custom icon for.
  8. Tap on the info icon at the bottom of your screen.

    Tap on the "i" icon at the bottom of your screen.
  9. Tap on Add to Home Screen.

    Tap on Add to Home Screen.
  10. Tap on the app icon under Home Screen Name and Icon.

    Tap on the app icon under HOME SCREEN NAME AND ICON.
  11. From the drop-down menu, select Take PhotoChoose Photo, or Choose File. For this example, I will tap Choose Photo.

    From the drop-down menu, select Take Photo, Choose Photo, or Choose File.
  12. Select the image you would like to use and tap Choose to confirm.

    Select the image you would like to use and confirm it by tapping Choose.
  13. Tap on New Shortcut to rename the app. (You can use the app name or create your own name for the app.)

    Tap on New Shortcut to rename the app.
  14. Tap Add in the top right corner of the screen.

    Tap Add in the top-right corner of the screen.
  15. The new app icon will appear on your Home Screen.

    The new app icon will appear on your Home Screen.

That's how to make new app icons with Shortcuts! As a final note, creating a custom iPhone icon using the Shortcuts app doesn’t replace the original app icon on your Home Screen, so you'll need to hide the original app to avoid seeing it. For more creative ways to customize your iPhone, sign up for our free Tip of the Day newsletter.

Where to Find & Download iPhone App Icons

If you want, you can use customized app icons to fully personalize your iPhone Home Screen with a specific theme! You don't need to pay for an app icon package when you have sites like Pinterest and Google Image Search. Here are some examples of what my iPhone has looked like in the past. For the Home Screens below, all the images for the icons and widgets were sourced for free simply by surfing the internet:

cute aesthetic app icons
how to make your iPhone aesthetic

However, if you want the icons to look more familiar, there are plenty of options out there. Here are some ways you can create custom app icons with Shortcuts:

It is possible to download free iPhone app icons, but you can also purchase premium packs online. Icons 8 is a great website that offers a wide selection of free icons with a specific section for iOS-friendly designs. Both Iconscout and Flaticon also have some free packs for Apple products.

Custom app icons selection from Freepik
Image from Freepik

For a more creative selection, a quick search on Pinterest can find you various free and paid collections. The great thing about searching on Pinterest is that it shows some of the best icons from different stores and websites, such as this free watercolor set (pictured above) that you can download via Freepik. Finally, Etsy is a great place to find packs of icons under ten dollars, depending on the seller. Sometimes they are even paired with great screensavers and more to create a cohesive theme. Once you download iPhone icons, they'll be stored in your Photos, and you can use them to change your app icons on iPhone using the steps above

You can also design your own icons using a third-party app! The ability to make your own iPhone icons is exciting but can be a little daunting. There are many ways to create your own designs. The old-school way is to hand draw the icons, then scan the art or simply take a photo of the drawing directly via the Shortcuts app. Another option is to create a design using software such as Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or Procreate if you're familiar with those applications. But for those who are neither talented in fine arts nor proficient in computer design, the Canva app is the way to go.

Screenshot of editing a logo in the Canva app
Screenshot above from the Canva app

Once you get the hang of it, your iPhone can look as unique as you do. Next, learn how to make new shortcuts from scratch.

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Author Details

Olena Kagui's picture

Author Details

Olena Kagui

Olena Kagui is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life. In the last 10 years, she has been published in dozens of publications internationally and won an excellence award. Since joining iPhone Life in 2020, she has written how-to articles as well as complex guides about Apple products, software, and apps. Olena grew up using Macs and exploring all the latest tech. Her Maui home is the epitome of an Apple ecosystem, full of compatible smart gear to boot. Olena’s favorite device is the Apple Watch Ultra because it can survive all her adventures and travels, and even her furbabies.