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How to Change App Icons with Focus [Video Tutorial]

3rd October 2021

Jacob Woolcock


With Focus modes on iOS 15 you can customise the notifications you receive and when you see them. But you can take it to another level by also customising the very way your phone looks and the apps it has on the Home Screen! In this tutorial I’ll show you how we can use our very own custom icons for our apps – and have them change with your Focus Mode! Take your aesthetic iPhone designs to the next level by switching between multiple aesthetic styles with ease. Here’s how it works:

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I’ve had a ton of comments on my previous Focus videos asking how we use Custom Icons with different Focus Modes. Well, you’re in luck! Here’s a #QuickTips video to show you how to do just that! Now, as you can see straight away, I’ve got a Home Screen built here using some Custom Icons based around a sort of chalkboard theme. We’ll come back to that in just a moment, but first, you may be thinking: “Well, where do I get these custom icons from?” And it’s actually really simple. You can find hundreds (if not thousands) of different packs of Custom Icons on the Internet. If I jump onto Safari now, this is a pack that I’ve found that I want to use for my Gym Focus called ‘CMYKcons’. There are loads of different options out there, and any custom icons are basically images. And those images will all work with the process I’ll show you now.

So when you’ve downloaded your Custom Icons, you want to get them either into Photos in an Album or into the Files App in a Folder. I’ve gone for Files because there are lots of different icons here to choose from – and you can see I’ve got my Gym Mode folder set up with all those new CMYKcons in. And if I go back, I’ve got a folder for Work Icons as well with my Chalkboard Icons in. I’ll try and put a link in the description below if you want to grab these chalk icons yourself as well. So now you’ve got your icons ready to go, it’s time to start looking at how we can replace our existing App Icons with these custom pictures. Again, if you’ve done this before, you can jump ahead in the video a little bit, but for a lot of people, this is a really helpful tip.

On the Home Screen that I’m currently building here, I’ve chosen the Wallpaper so I can make sure my icons fit nicely with that image. But at the bottom, you’ll see I’ve got Safari and I’ve got Shortcuts, and these are still the traditional Icons – so I’m going to try and change these now into my new chalkboard style. So I’ll jump into the Shortcuts App. When you’ve opened up Shortcuts, you may see on my iPhone I’ve got quite a few set up ready to go already for the current App Icons that I’ve changed. I’ve also made some for the Gym Mode using the Icons I showed you earlier (and we’ll have a look at that later in the video). When you’re ready, press the Plus button in the top corner to create a brand new Shortcut. Let’s give our new Shortcut a name so we don’t get confused later on. I’ll just call this one ‘Safari – Work’. Bear in mind if you’re going to have different icons for different Focus Modes, you might want to include the name of the Focus Mode in the name of the Shortcut as well.

Then we’re going to Add An Action – and we’re going to search for the action called Open App. When you search for that, tap on there to add it to your Shortcut, and then you can tap on the word App to choose the App that you want to open. For me, I’ll search for Safari and we’ll choose the Safari App to open when the Shortcut is run. And that’s the only action you need to add to your Shortcut. Next up, you’re going to press the Options Button in the top right corner of your screen. From here, all we’re going to do is tap ‘Add To Home Screen’ and what that will do is it’ll bring up a new page of options where you can choose the Icon and the name for your Shortcut. We’ll tap onto the Icon field there and then I’m going to go straight into Files and I’m going to choose my chalkboard style Safari Icon. Then when that’s done, we can rename the Shortcut as well. At the top of your screen, you’ll see a preview. Right now it says ‘Safari – Work’, so let’s get rid of that work part at the end and it will just say Safari. Now as soon as you press Done in the top corner, you’ll go straight back to your Home Screen and your new App Icon will be there waiting. Tap-and-hold to go into Jiggle Mode and then you can position it wherever you want and remove the old icon. Don’t forget that with the App Library, the App Icon hasn’t been deleted – it’s just gone to the App Library instead.

Then when we tap on our new Safari App, it’ll go straight into the browser and… Oh look at that, what an amazing-looking YouTube channel! I tell you what, if you’re watching this and you haven’t Subscribed, maybe you might like to press that button now. It would actually really help me as well as I want to share my videos with as many people as possible, and the

more Likes and Subscribe, the more YouTube will help push these videos out to others. Okay enough of that. Let’s go back to our Home Screen and then go back into the Shortcuts App. Now weirdly, we’re still in the middle of where we were earlier with those different Shortcut options, but we can press Done in the top corner and that will take us back to the Shortcuts Home Screen. Now we’re going to create one more Shortcut, so again we’ll press that Plus button and then we’re going to type in a name for our Shortcut. This time I’m going to replace my podcast player Overcast with the nice chalkboard icon, so I’ll call this one Overcast – Work. Then we’re going to add our first and only action, which is called Open App. From here tap on the App, choose Overcast from the search results, and then we’re going to press the Options button in the top right corner again. When I’ve pressed add to Home Screen again, I can rename the name of my Shortcut and just call it Overcast. And then we’re going to tap on the Icon and choose the image from my Files Library. Then when I press Done in the corner, it will add that icon of the Home Screen, and just like before, I can rearrange it by tapping and holding. What I want to do now is get rid of the Shortcuts Icon completely, so I’ll tap-and-hold on there and then press Remove App. Now I’ve got a Home Screen set up with all my Chalkboard Icons and it looks absolutely great in my opinion.

All I really want to do now is have that working with Focus Modes, so let’s have a look at how that works. As well as having my chalkboard Home Screen, if I swipe sideways one page, I’ve also got my slightly more neon-themed Activity Page which is going to be part of my Gym Focus. You’ll see here I’ve also changed those icons into some custom images, and then if I scroll right back to my first Home Screen, these are the pages that will come up for my Personal Focus – in fact, I’ve got two for that Focus. Now what I need to do is jump into the Settings App and from here, we’ll go straight on to Focus. I’ll do my Work Focus initially, so I’ll tap onto Work and then we’re going to choose Home Screen. Here we’re going to turn on Custom Pages, and this will bring up a new screen where I can tap to select or deselect the Home Screens I want to appear or not appear for this Focus. I’m going to tap onto my chalkboard Home Screen and then when I press Done, that is the only Home Screen that will show up on that Focus. You’ll notice that I’ve also got that lovely chalkboard Wallpaper. Now at the moment, that’s the Wallpaper my device is running for everything, but if you follow my Using Wallpapers with Focus tutorial (I’ll link at the end of the video and in the description), you can have a different Wallpaper for each Focus that works hand in hand with the different Home Screens. So check out that tutorial after this one, and you’ll get your own Wallpapers for each Focus mode as well.

Okay, let’s come back out of the Work Focus, and this time we’ll go into the Gym Focus mode. So just like before, I’m going to go into Home Screens and I’m going to turn on Custom Pages. Then I’m going to find my neon activity-themed Home Screen and we’re going to select that as the Home Screen that shows up on the Gym Focus. Then we’ll come out of there and we’ll do the same on the Personal Focus. This time I’ve got the two Home Screens to select, so I’ll tap on both of those and then press Done to save. Now that’s all configured let’s come out of Settings completely and start changing our Focus Mode. I’ll do this through Control Centre, but obviously, you could do it by location or time or however else your Focus Mode changes automatically – this will work in the same way. I’ll pull down to Control Centre and I’m going to switch on my Work Focus first of all. And as soon as I tap that and then come out of Control Centre, you should see that all my icons are now there in my Work Mode with my chalkboard – and that’s only one page of apps. The other pages are no longer visible. Now I’ll pull down the Control Centre again and this time I’m going to choose my Gym Focus and you’ll see, even through Control Centre, that the Wallpaper and the Icons have changed just like that. If I come out of Control Centre, you’ll now see those lovely neon artwork icons and a really cool Activity Ring style background as well. The great thing is not only have the apps changed and the icons, but also the Widgets have changed as well because the Widgets were different on each Home Screen. There are so many ways you

can customise Focus using this method – it really is very, very powerful!

Finally, let’s go on to the Personal Focus. So again into Control Centre and now I’ve got my first two pages of apps with a nice blue background. And just to be really clear, the Wallpaper is changing because of a different Shortcut that I set up previously – you can find information on that and loads and loads of other iPhone and iPad #QuickTips on my YouTube channel which is linked down below. While you’re there, please do Subscribe, that will really help me grow and share my videos with more and more people. I’ll see you next time!

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