How to Customize an iPhone's Home Screen

Learn how to add custom widgets and change app icons.

What to Know

  • In iOS 14 onwards, you can customize app icons and default widgets.
  • Create a custom icon with the Shortcuts app: Tap the plus sign and follow the prompts.
  • Create custom widgets: Download and install third-party apps available on the App Store.

iOS 14 brought the ability to customize an iPhone’s home screen. This article shows you how to use icons and custom widgets to make your home screen more eye-catching.

Can You Customize Icons on an iPhone?

A custom app icon on an iPhone screen is a shortcut dressed in a special icon. Shortcuts are little scripts (like computer programs, but you create them, they're far shorter and not technically a program) that automate a task for you on iOS. When you create a shortcut to an app, you can give the shortcut a unique name and icon. 

How Do I Put an Icon on My Home Screen?

Download icon images or icon packs and place them in Photos. You can also use any photo you have in the gallery as an icon’s image. Then, start customizing your home screen with these steps.

  1. Open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone from the Utilities folder or with a search. Select All Shortcuts to view existing shortcuts, if any.

  2. Select Add (+) on the top-right to create a new shortcut.

    Shortcuts > All Shortcuts > Add in iPhone settings
  3. Select Add Action and search for the Open App action. Next, select Open App and display the Scripting screen.

    Add Action > Open App in iPhone settings
  4. In the Scripting section of the new shortcut, tap Choose and select the app you want to open.

    Choose > Search apps > Menu button in iPhone New Shortcut settings
  5. Select the blue three dots (...) to open the Details screen for the app. You can now make two changes:

    • Erase the default “New Shortcut” name and enter a preferred name.
    • Tap on the icon and change the icon’s Color by selecting a color swatch. Then, tap Glyph to choose another icon from the categories of Objects, People, and Symbols.
    Customizing the Shortcuts icon in iOS
  6. Select Done to save your changes and return to the Details screen. 

  7. Select Add to Home Screen and preview the icon. You can tap on Add again to add the shortcut to the home screen without any other changes to its appearance. Instead of the color or glyph, you can customize the icon with any image or photo.

  8. Tap and press on the icon to open a menu. Select Take Photo, Choose Photo, or Choose File, to source any other replacement app icon image. 

    Adding custom icon to home screen on iOS
  9. The screen will flash a brief confirmation explaining your app shortcut was added to your home screen. Close the Shortcuts app.

The custom icon is now on your home screen and it will behave like any other app icon. To remove the icon, long press it and select Delete Bookmark from the menu.

How Do I Customize My iPhone Widgets?

iOS 14 allows you to add widgets for almost any iPhone app and display its information on the home screen. Also, you can group iPhone widgets into neat Smart Stacks to customize your iPhone home screen and glance at the most important information throughout the day.  

Unlike icons, you cannot directly change the appearance of a widget. For instance, you may want to match the look of the widgets to the wallpaper and icons and create a consistent home screen. But there are several widget apps on the App Store that can help you design your widgets and choose the information they will show. 

How Do I Add Custom Widgets to My Home Screen?

An iPhone widget helps you see valuable information immediately without opening the app. Then, a custom widget allows you to add your own spin to how it looks. Widgetsmith is one of the most popular custom widget apps on the App Store, and we will use it to do this walkthrough.

  1. Select the size of the widget. You can choose from Small Widget, Medium Widget, and Large Widget

  2. Select the Default Widget and go through the different Styles. You can choose between assorted styles of the time, date, weather, photos, calendars, and more.


    For each type, you can also select the Default Widget or a Timed Widget. The latter replaces the default widget at a specific time. For instance, you can schedule upcoming calendar events to appear on the home screen only during the day. 

    Widgetsmith in iOS
  3. Use the series of menus below the Style to choose the Theme.  

  4. You can save the widget with this theme or customize it more with Font, Tint Color, Background Color, and Border Color, and Artwork.

  5. To save the theme, go back to the previous screen (select the arrow on the upper left corner) and select Save. To customize the theme further, tap Customize Theme.

    Widgetsmith customization in iOS
  6. When you get the exact look, go back to the previous screen to rename and save it.

  7. Add a Widgetsmith widget to the home screen the same way you'd add any other widget. Select an empty area on the home screen and long press to enter the jiggle mode. Then, use the Add (+) button to add the generic Widgetsmith widget. Tap and hold to Edit Widget. Choose your custom widget from the dropdown menu.

    Placing the Widgetsmith custom widget on the iOS home screen
  • How do I customize the lock screen on my iPhone?

    Just like the home screen, you can customize your iPhone's lock screen appearance. Go to Settings > Wallpaper > Choose New Wallpaper and choose a background for your iPhone lock screen.

  • How do I customize my Control Center?

    You can customize the Control Center to add and organize controls. First, go to Settings > Control Center. Then, tap the Insert button to add or remove controls or tap Reorder to drag a control to a new position.

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