customize iPhone

How to Customize Your iPhone Home Screen with Widgets and Icons – How-To Geek

iPhone User Customizing Home Screen Using Widgets and Custom App Icons
Khamosh Pathak

After years of looking at the same grid of icons, it’s time to finally customize your iPhone to your heart’s content. Add some cool-looking custom widgets, and replace your apps with custom icons, just for a good measure.

Starting in iOS 14, Apple brought support for third-party widgets on the home screen. And while Apple won’t let you change app icons as Android does, you can use the Shortcuts app to create, well, shortcuts for apps using custom icons. In fact, this feature works for all iPhones running iOS 12 and higher.

RELATED: How to Add and Remove Widgets from the Home Screen on iPhone

Combine these two and you get some really impressive results. Just search for “#ios14homescreen” on Twitter to see some inspiring home screen setups. Everything from a Harry Potter theme, to Animal Crossing theme has been tried out. And not to mention, a retro iOS 6 theme.

The beauty of this system is that you don’t need to go that far. Just add some widgets and change a couple of app icons, if you like.

Create Your Own Customized Widgets

iPhone User Creating a Custom Widget For Home Screen
Khamosh Pathak

What we’re looking at here is a rethinking of how the iOS home screen works. After all, it’s changing for the first time in 13 years. You can use widgets to build that foundation, and add icons around the widgets.

Many third-party apps, especially productivity apps, have their own widgets. After upgrading to iOS 14 or higher, go to the widgets page to see new widgets for apps that you already use.

Press and hold in an empty part of the iPhone home screen and select the “+” button. Here, you’ll see all of the apps that support widgets.

Adding Widgetsmith Widget

Next, you should download apps for creating customized widgets. While you’ll find many apps on the App Store to do this, we would recommend you try Widgetsmith and Widgeridoo. Once you download the apps, read our step-by-step guide for creating custom widgets.

RELATED: How to Create Custom Widgets on iPhone

Widgetsmith is great for creating simple, template-based widgets. You can add calendar, reminders, weather, battery, date, and photo widgets to the iPhone home screen (in small, medium, and large sizes).

Various Widgetsmith Widgets on iPhone Home Screen

Pick a widget, a style, and customize attributes like the background color, font, tint color, borders, and more.

Customizing Widgetsmith Widget

Power users will appreciate the complexity of the Widgeridoo app. It’s a block-based widget builder. Using Widgeridoo, you can have different data or information in different blocks, all in the same widget.

Customizing Widgeridoo Widget

For example, you can create a single widget that shows you the battery percentage, step count, distance traveled, the date, and more.

Today Widget in Widgeridoo

While Widgeridoo is quite extensible, it’s a bit tricky to use. So, we would suggest you get started by customizing one of the prebuilt widgets. Widgeridoo lets you preview the widgets for free, but to add widgets to the home screen, you’ll have to pay for the $3.99 in-app purchase.

Create Custom App Icons

Custom app icons on iPhone
Justin Duino

Once you have the widgets nailed down, it’s time to customize those app icons. To do this, all you need is an image file (square and around 512 x 512 resolution) and the Shortcuts app.

Because this is not an official method, there is one downside. When you tap on a custom app icon, it will first launch the Shortcuts app, for a second, then it will open the app. Yes, it is an annoyance, but it might just be worth it.

RELATED: How to Use Custom App Icons on Your iPhone and iPad

You can do this in two ways. You can either create the app icon image yourself (using any image you find online), or you can download premade icon sets (individual icons from Google Images, Iconscout, or Iconfinder).

Next, transfer them to your iPhone. You can add them to the Photos app or the Files app.

Now comes the hard part. But, don’t worry, it’s going to be worth it! As we mentioned at the top of the article, you’ll have to use the Shortcuts app to create shortcuts with custom images and names to open particular apps.

It’s quite simple to do. Create a new shortcut, and use the “Open App” action from the “Scripting” section to select an app.

Creating Custom App Icon Shortcut

Then, add the shortcut to your iPhone’s home screen. In this step, tap the shortcut icon to select your custom icon.

Adding Custom Icon to Shortcut

Once the app icon is added to your home screen, switch it out by moving the original app to the App Library. You can repeat this process to create more custom app icons. To speed up the process, tap and hold a shortcut, and select the “Duplicate” option.

Tap Duplicate on Shortcut Preview

For detailed steps, read our guide on how to use custom app icons on iPhone.

RELATED: How to Use Custom App Icons on Your iPhone and iPad

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iOS 14: How to customize your home screen widgets with Smart Stacks and Siri Suggestions – 9to5Mac

Widgets have instantly proven to be the most popular iOS 14 feature, allowing users to give their home screens an added layer of personalization. iOS 14 includes two built-in widget options that aim to use Siri intelligence to help further personalize your iPhone home screen widgets. Here’s how it works.

Siri Suggestions widgets

If you’re the type of person that relies heavily on swiping down to access Siri app suggestions in Spotlight search, the Siri Suggestions widget is an excellent consideration for your home screen widget. The Siri Suggestions widget will surface relevant actions “based on your usage patterns.”

There are two different Siri Suggestions widgets:

  • App Suggestions: Get app launch suggestions based on your usage patterns (Available in medium size)
  • Shortcut Suggestions: See relevant shortcut actions based on your usage patterns (Available in small, medium, and large)

My personal favorite here is the App Suggestions widget, which will present a rotating selection of app icons based on what Siri intelligence thinks you might be looking for. For example, if you commonly log your lunch in MyFitnessPal around the same time every day, the App Suggestions widget will present the MyFitnessPal icon around that time of day.

In fact, once you add the App Suggestions widget to your home screen, the app icons will look just like any other app icons. It’s a pretty nifty use of Siri intelligence, and one of the cooler widget implementations by Apple.

To find these widgets, long-press on your iOS 14 home screen to enter jiggle mode, look for the “+” in the upper-left corner, then look for “Siri Suggestions” in the list of widgets.

Smart Stacks

One of the Apple widget types in iOS 14 is a Smart Stack, which intelligently stacks multiple widgets together based on factors like time of day and Siri intelligence. By default, you can pick a prebuilt Smart Stack from the widget picker, but you can also create custom stacks of widgets.

This means you can pick different widgets and stack them on top of one another, then swipe between them. To do this, simply add one widget to your home screen, then go back to the Widget Gallery and choose another and drag it on top of the first widget. You can stack many different widgets together, then swipe through them directly from the home screen.

Once you add a Smart Stack widget to your iOS 14 home screen, you can you can long-press on it, choose “Edit Widget” and enable or disable the “Smart Rotate” feature. This feature will automatically rotate through the widgets in the stack based on time of day and Siri intelligence.

Find more third-party apps with iOS 14 features such as home screen widgets, App Clips, and more in our full roundup.

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