How to Change the Icons on the Home Screen of the iPhone

by Michael Cox

The iPhone's home screen is iconic -- and a bit inflexible. You've got a four-by-four-icon grid plus a static four icons at the bottom, and the only real changes you can make to this arrangement involve rearranging or changing the icons themselves. A further limitation is that you can't change icons for the iPhone's standard apps, such as Mail, Safari and Maps, without jailbreaking your phone, thus voiding its warranty and potentially turning it into an expensive paperweight. However, you can change the icons of your iPhone's third-party apps using free software, and completely change which icons appear on your Home screen using just your finger.

Replacing Icons

Download iFunBox, a free app for Mac or PC that enables you to navigate the files on your iPhone (see "Resources"). Start the app and connect the iPhone to your computer. You can also use other apps with file-navigation features, such as DiskAid or iExplorer.

Select your iPhone in the left-hand panel, click "User Applications," and double-click the app whose icon you want to edit. Double-click the folder with a title ending in ".app" to view its contents.

Scroll through the file list until you see the icon file. For most apps, the file will be named "icon@2x.png." If you're using an earlier generation iPhone without a Retina display, most apps use the "icon.png" file instead. Rename the icon file so that if you have a problem later you can revert the file to its original name. The name of the icon file may vary for some apps.

Create your new icon as a PNG file with dimensions of 144 by 144 pixels. For non-Retina iPhones, make your PNG 72 by 72 pixels. Give it the same name as the file you're replacing. Make sure the name matches exactly, because the files are case-sensitive. Drag the new icon into the app's folder, exactly where the old image was.

Disconnect your iPhone and restart it. You should now see the icon you created. If you still see the old icon, the app may use a different icon file and you may need to replace that file instead.

Moving Icons

Touch an icon on your iPhone's Home screen and hold it until all of the icons on your screen jiggle, then drag the icons where you want them to be. You may move icons not only to different positions on the Home screen but also to new or different Home screens by dragging the icons to the far right or left edge of the screen.

Drag any app onto another app to group those apps into a folder. The new folder icon will feature miniature icons of the folders inside, and the iPhone gives the folder a default name reflecting its contents.

Press the "Home" button to stop your icons jiggling, and lock their positions.

Tips

  • If you update an app with a custom icon, you may have to replace the icon again in the new version.
  • To reset an app to its original settings, including its icon, delete the app from your iPhone and sync it with iTunes to redownload the app.
  • You may also reorder your icons in iTunes under the "Apps" tab. You can group apps and rename your folders in iTunes under the "Apps" tab.

About the Author

Michael Cox writes about lifestyle issues, popular culture, sports and technology. In a career spanning more than 10 years, he has contributed to dozens of magazines, books and websites, including MSN.com and "Adobe Magazine." Cox holds a professional certificate in technical communications from the University of Washington.

Photo Credits

  • Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images News/Getty Images