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iOS 14 home screen aesthetic: How to get custom app icons on your iPhone

Social media is going crazy with people showing off their iPhone home screen customizations.

iOS 14 home screen aesthetic: How to get custom app icons on your iPhone
[Photo: Apple; rawpixel]

If you’ve been on Twitter or Pinterest the last few days, you’ll probably have seen “iPhone aesthetic” or “iOS 14 home screen” trending. The deal behind that is when Apple dropped iOS 14 last week, it became the first iPhone operating system that allowed people to customize the look of their home screen via widgets—one of the major features of the latest operating system.

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Soon, people became showing off their home screen with widget designs on social media. But then some enterprising users found that not only could you customize your home screen layout with iOS 14 widgets, but that you could actually customize your iPhone home screen app icons—enabling you to give your iPhone a unique look. Take a look at some of these iPhone custom home screen mods below . . .

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But these custom app icons aren’t a built-in feature in iOS 14. Rather, you can apply them via a workaround using the Shortcuts app, which is an Apple app included in iOs 14. If you want to customize your app icons in iOS 14, you’ll need a few things first:

  • An iPhone running iOS 14 or later (obviously)
  • The Shortcuts app. This comes on the iPhone as default, but if you’ve deleted it you’ll need to redownload it from the App Store again. You can find the app here.
  • A collection of images you want to use as app icons. You can find app icon image sets by searching for them online—or you can literally make your own using images from your iPhone’s camera roll.
  • Once you have images you want to use as app icons, make sure they are saved to your iPhone’s camera roll.

Got all the above? Good. Now here’s how you get custom app icons on your iPhone:

  1. Open the Shortcuts app.
  2. Tap the + button in the upper-right corner of the screen.
  3. Tap “Add Action.”
  4. Tap the search field in the pop-up menu that appears and search for “open app.”
  5. Under the Actions heading, tap “Open App.”
  6. In the New Shortcuts screen that appears, tap the blue “Choose” link.
  7. In the Choose App pop-up, tap the app you want to customize the icon for.
  8. Back in the New Shortcuts screen, tap the three dots (…) in the upper-right corner.
  9. On the Details screen, tap “Add to Home Screen.”
  10. Under the “Home Screen Name and Icon” header, tap the new shortcut’s generic icon.
  11. In the pop-up menu, tap “Choose Photo.”
  12. From the camera roll image picker that pops up, tap the photo you want to use for the icon image.
  13. Zoom on the photo to crop it if you wish, then tap “Choose.”
  14. Under the “Home Screen Name and Icon” header, you’ll see your custom app icon. Next, tap the “New Shortcut” text next to it to name the shortcut. In this case, you’ll want to name it the same as the name of the app you are creating the icon for.
  15. In the upper-right corner, tap the “Add” button.
  16. Tap “Done” and return to your iPhone’s home screen.

Once you’ve gone through all these steps, you’ll see the new app icon on your home screen. However, there are a few more things to understand by using this method to change your app icons:

  • You aren’t changing the app’s true icon at all. Instead, what you’ve done is create a shortcut to that app with its own custom icon and placed that shortcut on your home screen. You can verify this by finding the app you created the shortcut for and seeing if it still has its original icon.
  • That means if you want to make your home screen look tidy and only show customized app icons, you’ll need to move all the real apps to a folder on another home screen to hide them.
  • Also note that when you tap on one of these app icons, it won’t launch the app right away. Instead, the Shortcuts app will launch to process the shortcut, and only then will the app actually launch.
  • App icon shortcuts will not show badges. So, if you create a custom app icon shortcut for the Mail app, that shortcut will not show a red badge with a number when you get new emails.

In other words, all this isn’t a perfect solution—still, it’s a fun one, and people are obviously having a blast doing it and sharing the results on social media.

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