How to Create Custom Icons on iPhone, iPad, and MacBook

You may have seen these aesthetically pleasing iPhone screens on Pinterest with custom icons in different colors than the standard colors. I decided to play around with my phone and figured out how to customize my iPhone icons. It's easier than you might expect - let me show you!

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There are several apps in the App Store that you can use to create a customized iPhone setup with the colorful icons, but the method I’m going to show you is easy enough and can be done without an app.

*NOTE: Using this method will require you to set up Shortcuts on your iPhone, and the little notification number for each app will no longer appear, but you will still receive all notifications as usual.

Step 1: Determine Your Color Palette

The first step is figuring out the color palette you want to use. A quick and easy way to do this is visit Pinterest and look for color palettes that you love. When you find one you want to use, simply screenshot it so it’s on your phone or save it to your desktop. You can use this color palette to create a cohesive look on your MacBook, iPhone, and iPad.

Here are a few that I personally like:

Step 2: Create Icons in Canva

Once you have your color palette on your phone, open Canva. If you don’t have a Canva account, you can create one for free HERE.

Open Canva and create a new blank Instagram post – this will be a square graphic.

Upload the screenshot of your color palette and add it to the blank square. You’re going to match the colors to make your custom icons.

On the same square, use the Elements tool to add a shape – a circle works well. Add as many circles as there are colors in your palette and spread them out.

Now select the first circle. At the bottom of the screen, select “color”, then click the “+” followed by the dropper tool. A circle will appear on your graphic that you can move over your palette to select the first color. Once you have the color marked, click “done”. Repeat this process for all of your colors.

Here is a quick video to show you how to create a color palette in Canva with the dropper tool:

Now just create an icon for every app or folder you want to replace.


Create app icons for every app you want to replace on your home screen. For example, you may want to create app icons for Facebook, Instagram, Google Chrome/Safari, Photos, etc.

Many of the icons you will need can be found in Canva by selecting “Elements” in the left sidebar and typing in the app name in the search bar. 

*TIP* Search for graphics rather than photos, and find ones that allow you to change colors. 

Here is a quick video showing you how to search for and select icons to use in Canva:

Once you create all of your apps in the various colors of your palette, download them to your computer or save to your iPhone or iPad.

Customizing Your iPhone & iPad Icons

To use the app icons you created in Canva, you will be creating Shortcuts on your iPhone and iPad.

On your iPhone or iPad, navigate to Shortcuts and click the “+” in the top right corner to create a new Shortcut.

From there, you will name your Shortcut. I suggest naming it the same as the app for which you are creating a Shortcut. 

Next, click “Add Action” then “Scripting”, followed by “Open App”. 

You will select the App from the list, then click the blue circle with 3 lines in the top right corner.

Click “Add to Home Screen”. Another screen pops up showing a default Shortcut icon and the name of your Shortcut. Click the smaller icon and choose the photo you created. Rename your app if you’d like or leave it as is, then click “Add” in the top right. 

The Shortcuts screen will close and your new Shortcut will be on your iPhone or iPad screen. 

Long press to edit the arrangement and place your new icon wherever you’d like. 

Repeat this process for each Shortcut you create.

Here is a short video showing this process on the iPhone. The iPad is relatively the same. 

Customizing Your Folder Icons on MacBook

You have both apps and folders on your MacBook. You know, those ugly blue folders?

Good news – you can update them with custom icons! No Shortcuts needed, either. It’s SO easy. 

Follow the same steps in Canva to create folder icons. You might want one for Downloads, Photos, and any other folders you access regularly. 

You can also create custom icons for things you use often such as Google Chrome/Safari, Apple Music, Spotify, or anything else you keep on your desktop. 

Once you have those icons saved onto your computer, here is how you will change them:

First, use Finder to locate the app or folder you want to update. 

Move it to your desktop first. Then, right-click on the desktop icon and select “Get Info”. A new box will pop up.

In the top left corner of the info box, you’ll see the icon for the app or folder. Go back to your Downloads folder, or wherever you saved the icon. Simply drag the new icon into the location of the small icon in the top left corner of the info box. (You may be asked to enter your password the first time you do this.)

That’s it! Repeat this process for folders and other apps you want to update, adding them first to your desktop then replacing the icon.

If you ever want to revert them back to the original icon, go back to the info box and click on the small icon in the top left corner and simply delete!

Here is a short video showing how to do this:

Now if you’re like me, you’ll spend entirely too much time creating new icons for your iPhone, iPad, and MacBook and making it look super pretty. But, to me, it’s worth it.

I’m a very visual person, and it honestly makes me so happy every time I look at my devices now. It’s also easier for me to find things, since I only created icons for the things I use the most, and moved everything else off of the home screen.

*NOTE* Once you create new Shortcuts on your iPhone and iPad, you can remove the apps from your home screen. Don’t delete the apps completely, but remove them from your home screen instead.

*REMINDER* On the Shortcuts on your iPhone and iPad, you won’t see those little notification numbers anymore. You will still get notifications and see badges on your lock screen. 

I’d love to see your screens! Feel free to share them on Instagram and tag me @sweetteaandsavinggrace

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I'm Kirsten & I'm happy you're here! Sweet Tea & Saving Grace supports women seeking to find balance in the busy, deepen their faith, and instill joy and love in their homes, lives, and blogs by providing encouraging and inspiring content and valuable resources. My prayer is for you to leave here better than when you came. Be blessed!