Customizing your iPhone Home screen with custom app icons and widgets ever since iOS 14 has dropped has become a trend. And for a good reason too! Have you seen some of the aesthetics users have created? No doubt everyone wants to get on board this train.
There’s a simple trick with the shortcuts app that lets you change your app icons to literally anything you want. But the trick comes with a small catch. The new app icons are nothing but shortcuts to the original apps, and every time you run the app, it opens the Shortcuts app first. And although it just takes an additional second, it can discourage many users from adopting the trick.
But thanks to the Icon Themer shortcut created by a Reddit user, you can have custom icons that launch the app (most apps, at least) directly. It makes use of web clips to directly launch apps. Here’s how to use it.
Install the Icon Themer Shortcut
Users can create and share iOS shortcuts through iCloud so other people can use them. Icon Themer is one such complex shortcut that would have been otherwise difficult to create for a non-advanced user. But luckily, you don’t have to create it; you only have to download it.
Open the link below in Safari or any other browser on your iPhone to go to the iCloud page and tap the ‘Get Shortcut’ button.
It will redirect you to the Shortcuts app. Now, if you’ve never used external shortcuts before, a message will appear on your screen that the shortcut cannot be opened as your shortcut security settings don’t allow untrusted shortcuts.
To change the setting, open the Settings app and go to ‘Shortcuts’.
Then, turn on the toggle for ‘Allow Untrusted Shortcuts’.
A confirmation dialog box will appear. Tap on ‘Allow’. It will ask for your iPhone passcode. Enter it to turn the setting on.
Now, go back to the link on your browser and tap the ‘Get Shortcut’ button. Now, it’ll open the ‘Add Shortcut’ page in the Shortcuts app. You can review the whole shortcut code on this page before you decide to add it. To add it, scroll to the very end and tap the ‘Add Untrusted Shortcut’ button.
The shortcut will appear in your ‘My shortcuts’, ready to be run.
How to Use the Icon Themer Shortcut to make App Shortcuts with Custom Icons
After adding the shortcut, you can run it to make a shortcut with a custom icon for any app you want. Unlike the other trick, you don’t have to create individual shortcuts for different apps. You only need to run this shortcut individually for each app. It doesn’t allow you to create shortcuts in bulk yet, but it might be available in the future as it’s something the creator of the shortcut is working on.
Creating Shortcuts for App Store apps
Open the Shortcuts app and go to the ‘My Shortcuts’ tab from the navigation bar.
Then, tap the ‘Icon Themer’ shortcut to run it.
Select ‘Search in App Store’ on the next step.
Enter the name of the app you want to search for and tap on ‘Done’.
The results from the App Store will appear on the screen. Tap on the one you wish to use.
It’ll ask for permission to access itunes.apple.com. Tap on ‘OK’ to continue.
Now, the option to choose an icon will appear. You can use the default icon (which obviously you don’t want), or you can choose a photo from iPhone photos or Files. Tap on the option where the photo you want to use as the icon is stored. For the sake of this guide, let’s select ‘Choose from Photos’.
Icon Themer would then ask for access to your Photos. Tap on ‘OK’ to grant it access. Had we chosen ‘Choose from Files’, then you wouldn’t have to grant explicit access. Your Photos will open. Tap the photo you want to use as the icon to select it. Note that Icon Themer doesn’t have the option to adjust the thumbnail while selecting the icon like you can with the other trick.
Now, enter the name you want to display as the label under the icon. If you don’t want anything displayed as the label, enter a single space but don’t leave it completely blank to avoid the possibility of errors. Tap on ‘Done’ to proceed to the next step.
It’ll then ask for permission to access ‘gist.githubusercontent.com’. Tap on ‘OK’ as it needs to contact the site to get the list of URL schemes.
The URL scheme it fetches from GitHub will be displayed in the next step. Tap on ‘Done’.
It’ll redirect you to Safari, and a pop-up message will appear stating that the website is trying to download a configuration profile. Tap on ‘Allow’.
The profile will be downloaded. Now, go to the Settings app. The option ‘Profile Downloaded’ will be visible towards the top of the settings; tap on it.
Profile Details will open. Tap the ‘Install’ option on the upper right corner. It’ll ask for your iPhone’s passcode; enter it to complete the installation.
It might display a warning that the profile is not signed. Tap on ‘Install’ again to proceed.
The new app with the custom icon and label will appear on your Home Screen. Tap on it to open it, and it’ll open directly.
Creating Shortcuts for System Apps using Icon Themer
Creating shortcuts for system apps is a little different from App Store apps. For one, there is no option to select the app directly. It requires a more manual approach. And the working shortcuts for system apps is not as seamless as for the App Store apps. For some of them, the Shortcuts app still open, while for some others, a blank page appears before the app.
To create a shortcut for a System app, run the shortcut and then tap on ‘Custom Bundle ID’.
You can find the Bundle ID for all System apps here on Apple’s support page. Enter the Bundle ID and tap on ‘Done’. The rest of the process is the same as the App Store apps.
These system apps are not supported by Icon Themer as there is no known URL scheme to open them.
And these apps have to go through shortcuts as they use private URL schemes that cannot be used directly, only through Shortcuts x-callback-URL.
- Voice Memos
Although the process seems quite long, it’ll take barely a couple of minutes to create a shortcut for an app using Icon Themer. The shortcut runs optimally on iOS 14. It’s also better to use iOS 14 while creating custom app icons as you can use the App Library to hide the original app icons to reduce redundancy. But if you’re using iOS 13, it’s better to enable ‘Reduce Motion’ to make it more seamless.