Apple’s Shortcuts app continues to impress with a seemingly endless array of capabilities. Want to set a reminder to brush your teeth or get directions to your next event? Shortcuts, the … shortcut.
One of the most popular apps, Shortcuts is a quick and easy way to fine-tune your home screen. As Apple has long been against personalized customization on your smartphone, this workaround is the answer.
Basically, this shortcut creates a new button for your favorite app, say Facebook, and swaps out the traditional icon with something else of your choosing. You can swap it out with any other icon from the app store or upload your own icon. This might look complicated, but once you knock out the first two icons, it’s hard to stop until every app looks different.
The most important step to get started is to install the Shortcuts app on your device. That’s easily done by opening this Shortcuts link from your iPhone. Easy so far, right? Now, in the Shortcuts app, tap the shortcut, and you’ll see a menu pop up like the one pictured below.
Let’s go on to the second option, “Launch App URL scheme,” by selecting it.
The next window popup asks you to enter a “URL scheme.” Okay, so this one sounds technical, but it’s actually super-easy. The “scheme” is just part of the URL, similar to how a traditional URL looks with “http:///” In our case, we’re going to type the name of the app you want followed by “://.” In other words, for Twitter you’d type “Twitter://.”
Add a Command Title
After adding the scheme, the Shortcuts app will ask you to enter a “command title.” Again, this is just a really technical way of asking what you’d like to call the new app. You can call it Twitter, or you can call it “The Good Place,” “Jack’s Creation” or “My Favorite App.” Whatever you want to call it, type it now.
The Hunt for Icons
We’re past most of the technical stuff and moving into the fun part. The next popup you’ll see in the app wants you to search the app store for any icon you want to use. You can search the iOS App Store or the Mac App Store. In your case, let’s search for “Twitter” and hit Done. You’ll see a list of most of the Twitter apps currently available on the App Store. The Twitterrific app icon looks nice, so let’s select that one. From here you can move on to the next step or go back and start over to find a different icon.
Add to Home Screen
This step is pretty straightforward thanks to Apple adding the instructions right on the screen. Tap the “Share” button, then hit ”Add to Home Screen,” and Safari takes care of the rest. Go back to your home screen, and you’ll see the new icon, and it’s beautiful.
There’s a small caveat to this whole process. As the app requires the use of the Shortcuts app to create the custom icon, tapping on the icon opens the Shortcuts app before opening the app you want. In other words, once you hit your icon, there’s a two to three-second delay before Twitter will open. It’s a small price to pay for the ability to customize your home screen, even if it’s not officially supported by Apple.
Wait, There’s More
The aforementioned instructions are excellent if you just want to open the Twitter app. What if you want to open the app directly to compose a new tweet? That’s as easy as repeating all the instructions, except this time your “scheme” URL will be “twitter://new.” That’s just glancing the surface of what the Shortcuts app can do overall. Take a look at 9 of the Best Siri Shortcuts for iOS Power Users.