With iOS 14, Apple has finally given you the ability to customize the layout of your home screen to some extent. Instead of just repositioning icons, you can totally remove them thanks to the new App Library. With the new Widgets, you can finally fill your home screen with something other than just apps.
But the new “aesthetic” iPhone trend goes a lot further. By combining Shortcuts with custom icons and highly-customizable widgets, you can give your iPhone a dramatically different look.
Here’s how to get started making your iPhone “aesthetic.”
Update 12/15/20: With the iOS 14.3 release, apps launched via Shortcuts no longer switch to the Shortcuts app before launching. Now, a small banner alert pops up instead.
First, grab some icons
Before you do anything else, you’ll want to grab some images to use as icons. There are lots of designers with matching icon packs on the web, just search for what suits you. Some are free, others (like Traf’s popular minimalist icons) are quite expensive.
A great way to find some free icons is to search Twitter for “aesthetic iOS 14” and start poking around.
You’ll want to add your icons to your Photos library. On your iPhone, long-press an image and choose “Add to Photos.” If you’ve got a Mac, you can drag images into your Photos app.
Use Shortcuts to replace apps
The key to replacing all your app icons with your own designs is to replace your actual apps on your home screen with Shortcuts.
Open the Shortcuts app (it comes installed on your iPhone).
Tap the + button in the upper right to make a new Shortcut.
Tap Add Action.
Tap Open App.
Tap the Choose word and select the app you want this shortcut to open.
Tap the three dots (…) in the upper right and select Add to Home Screen.
Give your shortcut a name (the name of the app is a good idea).
Tap the image to the left of the name and pick Choose Photo. Select the image from your Photos library you want to use as your new icon.
Tap Add in the upper right, and you’ll see a popup telling you the shortcut was added to the home screen.
Back on your home screen, you can see your new shortcut. If the original app icon is still on the home screen, long-press it, choose Remove App, and then Move to App Library to get it off your home screen.
Repeat that process for every app you want to keep on your home screen, and remove all the others, leaving them in your App Library.
There are three caveats to be aware of when replacing your apps with shortcuts in this way. First, you won’t get those little red notification badges in the corner of your shortcuts like you will on real apps. Second, when you launch an app from a shortcut, you’ll first see a brief Shortcuts banner notification pop up before the app launches. And third, you’ll lose the ability to long-press on the app icon to access whatever quick actions it has—the shortcut won’t have those.
To match your custom app icons, you’ll want some custom widgets. New apps like Widgetsmith and Color Widgets are popular options.
You’ll use the app to design your own widgets, choosing what information it will show, the fonts, colors, borders, and so on. Once you’ve got your widgets created, it’s time to add them to your home screen.
Tap and hold on any empty area of your home screen until you enter “wiggle mode.”
Tap the + sign in the upper left to add a widgets.
Select the Widgetsmith or Color Widgets app (or whatever custom widgets app you used) and the size of the widget you created.
Tap Add Widget.
Position the widget on the home screen, and while still in wiggle mode, tap it to change its options—you may have to choose the particular widget you’ve customized.
Tap Done in the upper right to exit wiggle mode.
There are limits to what you can do with custom widgets right now, but the capabilities of these apps continues to expand.
If you’re willing to accept the limitations of using shortcuts to launch your apps and using custom widgets you can create some truly unique home screen looks!
I have written professionally about technology for my entire adult professional life - over 20 years. I like to figure out how complicated technology works and explain it in a way anyone can understand.