Using the Icon Themer shortcut to create custom iOS app icons

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With iOS 14, you can now add Widgets on the Home Screen. This new capability however has inspired a lot of creative minds to fully customise the iPhone home screens. Not only are widgets used, matching custom iOS app icons are also added to create a seamless theme!

The most common approach to create custom iOS app icons has been to just use the Shortcuts app to create a shortcut that opens the target app. However, this approach will first open up the shortcut app before opening the app you want.

I’ve recently stumbled upon a different way to do this that would just open the target app! And I must say the creator of this approach is real smart cookie. Read on and find out more!

custom-reddit-app-icon
A custom reddit app icon without the app name on iOS

Creating custom iOS app icons with Icon Themer

Icon Themer is a custom shortcut that would run through the necessary steps to create a custom “app” that would load the target app on your iPhone and also any iOS devices for that matter. As you read from its descriptions below, this works best with iOS 14 but would still work on iOS 13.

Icon themer shortcut listed on RoutineHub
Icon themer shortcut listed on RoutineHub (link)

If you don’t want to read the step-by-step guide, you can just check out the full video here. Otherwise, read on for the details of the steps.

Create Custom iOS App Icons with Icon Themer - Full video

Step 1: Allow Untrusted Shortcuts

To install the shortcut, you will need to first allow the use of untrusted shortcuts on your iPhone.

Allow untrusted shortcuts on iOS 14
Allow untrusted shortcuts on iOS 14

The video below shows how to set the Allow Untrusted Shortcuts setting on iOS 14.

iOS custom app icons - Step 1: Allow untrusted shortcuts

Step 2: Add the Icon Themer Shortcut

Adding the Icon Themer shortcut is pretty simple. Just open your camera app and scan the QR code on the Icon Themer page (https://routinehub.co/shortcut/6565/) on RoutineHub. Alternatively, you can also just open up this link on your iPhone browser.

The video below will walk you through the whole process.

iOS custom app icons - Step 2: Install Icon Themer shortcut

Only one key thing to note. As you’ve seen in the video above, it will ask which country’s App Store you would like to set up the shortcut for. By default, it would select the country as set in the regional settings. This is important as the shortcut will search for apps that are listed in that country’s App Store. This is generally not a problem but if you want to target apps that are only listed in a specific country, you will need to make sure the shortcut is set to that country as well.

Once done, you will see the Icon Themer shortcut listed on your iPhone. Now you are ready to create custom iOS app icons on your iPhone.

Icon Themer shortcut installed
Icon Themer shortcut installed

Step 3: Go forth and create custom iOS app icons!

Firstly, I would assume that you already have the set of app icons. If not, icons8 is a great place to find some good app icon designs to use. For this article, I’ve download one of the icons as an example to use.

icon8.com to get custom app icons
Check out icon8.com to get custom app icons

The steps are pretty straightforward. There are some key items to take note of which I describe below.

This step to search of the app is self descriptive. Just a note as I’ve mentioned earlier, if you can’t find the app you want to target, it might be because its not listed in the country that was set for the Icon Themer shortcut. You could add another copy of the shortcut that is set to the country where the app is listed.

Search for the target app with the Icon Themer shortcut
Search for the target app with the Icon Themer shortcut

Here’s where you would select the custom icon you want to use.

Select a custom icon of choice with the Icon Themer shortcut
Select a custom icon of choice with the Icon Themer shortcut

By default the actual name of the app is used here. You can rename it to anything you want. But if you want to use a blank name, use a single space. It has to at least a single character for the icon label. If you don’t, the installation of the profile will fail.

Name your custom app launcher
Name your custom app launcher

The final step would be to install the profile. You will find that in the Settings app under General -> Profiles. After installing the profile, the custom app icon launcher will be on your iPhone’s Home Screen!

Install the new Icon Themer profile
Install the new Icon Themer profile
A custom reddit app icon without the app name on iOS
A custom reddit app icon without the app name on iOS

Here is a complete walkthrough in a video of the whole process.

iOS custom app icons - Step 3: Create a new custom app launcher

A final note

If you install multiple custom iOS app icons, you will find that each one will list as its own profile in the Profiles settings. And this can be confusing when you want to completely delete those icons. One tip is to basically take note of the id of the profile and note it down somewhere so you can remember which id corresponds to which icon. There is no way to rename the profile’s name at this point. This note that I strikethrough is no longer valid! Read on below and see what’s new now with the latest version of Icon Themer.

Updated again: The creator of the Icon Themer shortcut is actively updating the shortcut. With the latest update 0.4.4, the shortcut now uses the App name for the profile! This makes it really easy to delete the right profile when you want to.

Icon Themer profile using the app name
Icon Themer profile uses the name of the target app now!

Update: I missed out the fact that I could click on to the details of each profile and see what the specific profile was for. See the screenshot below. It shows that the profile is a Web Clip with the iOS App URL scheme of the target app.

Details of an Icon Themer profile

Also check out…

Is Icon Themer a security concern or a harmless way to customise iOS 14. Read my this post to find out more!

Also, find out why I think the Baseus 9-in-1 Armor Age Type-C Bracket Multi-Functional Hub is a great match for the MacBook Pros



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9 Responses

  1. not a good idea says:

    This has a ton of security issues with it. It uploads your photos used to a server, loss of privacy right there. Then any profile installed on your device gives the remote server access. Giving up security for icon changes? I’m sorry but this makes absolutely zero sense. Can already see based on this alone that Apple will patch secondary shortcut access in the future for things like this.

  2. Ken Ng says:

    If you look into the shortcut itself, it does not do that. The shortcut is open and therefore you can see exactly what it does. I’ve not seen it sending anything anywhere except checking for it’s latest version on Routinehub and to download the latest version of there is an update, and also to download the updated list of App URL schemes.

    All external URL calls are using the GET method. Meaning it’s not unlikely to be sending anything out. Also, you can see what is the full http request and understand what it is actually doing. And as for the creation of the profile, it actually does it on device.

    You can also see the script that generates the profile, again, the profile does nothing other than running the app URL scheme which itself would just open up the target app. It does not expose a hole for external access to your iPhone.

    Have you discovered this somewhere within the shortcut actions on what you are claiming?

  3. Silas Crawford says:

    I don’t even get to the profile management screen after I select my custom icon. It just closes and my custom icon never appears. Do you know why this is happening?

  4. Ken Ng says:

    Try to go to the Profiles settings in Settings -> General -> Profiles. Do you see any profiles that is not yet installed? You need to manually install it.

  5. g says:

    How am i able to search? when i click on the shortcut, it just brings up all the details and i’m not able to set that app that i want.

  6. Ken Ng says:

    Have you seen the video walkthrough? If you installed the shortcut, the shortcut should run when you tap on it. Just avoid tapping at the three-dots icon part of the shortcut button as that would bring you to the details.

  7. wey dog says:

    How do I make one for safari??

  8. Ken Ng says:

    For Safari, or any other default iOS system apps, Select the “System apps” option when the Icon Themer ask you to Choose an app. You will just need to scroll down the list of apps when it shows all the iOS apps. Everything else is the same.

  9. glstilio says:

    I think this is a a great thing. I just wish folks would stop claiming this HUGE security risk. I’m quite sure the same people complaining have all of their passwords stored in Google Chrome and use social media. The creator of this used Apple’s resources. After looking through, nothing malicious has been added or set up. Apple doesn’t even allow it. Thanks again creator. I’m sitting here in between client meetings and decided to give it a go. Works great!

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