How to give your iPhone Home screen a new look with custom icons

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How to create custom app icons iOS 14
iOS 14 but with an entirely new look.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

It’s no longer necessary to jailbreak your iPhone to completely overhaul the appearance of its Home screen. All you need is the Shortcuts app in iOS 14, and you can use custom icons for any app you have installed.

With some simple tweaks and plenty of spare time, you can make your iPhone feel like a brand-new smartphone with a completely different operating system designed just by you. We’ll show you how.

iPhone Home screen modders go crazy with iOS 14

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MS Paint
Wait a second, that doesn't look quite right!
Photo: Thomas Reisenegger

Ever wanted to make your brand-new iPhone look like it’s running Windows 95? That’s the outrageously novel idea that sprang into the mind of Ashley, an 18-year-old from Indiana who wants to work as a graphic designer, after she upgraded to iOS 14 last week.

Taking advantage of iOS 14’s new Home screen widgets feature, and a clunky workaround that employs the built-in Shortcuts app, she gave her iPhone 11 a vintage Microsoft-style makeover that screams retro cool and picked up 4.4 million views and 664,000 likes on TikTok.

“As someone who wasn’t even alive in the ’90s, other operating systems, such as Windows XP, are more nostalgic to me, but I went with Windows 95 because it furthered the contrast between old and new,” Ashley, who did not want her last name revealed, told Cult of Mac.

Toolbox Pro brings incredible new tricks to Shortcuts

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Toolbox pro
Who doesn’t love a good pro toolbox?
Photo: Susan Holt Simpson/Unsplash

Apple’s Shortcuts app is already a very powerful tool for automating stuff on your iPhone and iPad, and for creating your own push-button mini-apps. But what if it also could use the deep tools that Apple builds into iOS for app developers? What if Shortcuts could use Face ID, or analyze your photos using iOS’ crazy-powerful machine learning? Or if you could use the OCR to pull text out of photos, all inside Shortcuts?

Thats what Toolbox Pro does. It opens up many of Apple’s amazing under-the-hood technologies, and lets you use them just by dragging a new step into your Shortcuts workflows. Let’s see what it can do.

Check out iOS 13’s amazing NFC-triggered Shortcuts

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nfc shortcuts
These little NFC tags are discreet enough to stick anywhere.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Shortcuts has gotten so many amazing new tricks in iOS 13 that it’s going to take a while for us to cover them all. So, how about starting with the new NFC automations? This lets you tap your sleeping iPhone onto an NFC sticker or tag, and your iPhone will run a shortcut. This is pretty amazing, because you can walk around you home (or office), and just tap your iPhone onto objects to perform tasks: open apps, set timers, play music, dim the lights — in fact, you can do anything a regular shortcut can do.

Here are two great examples of using NFC shortcuts in iOS 13.