(Pocket-lint) – Let’s say a holiday is coming up – like, Halloween – and you want your iPhone to look all spooky and festive. To achieve that, did you know you can do more than change your wallpaper to a ghost or witch?

There was once a time when Apple wouldn’t let its users customise the home screen. But the company is much more lenient these days. You can completely control the aesthetic of an iPhone by changing your home screen app icons to custom ones and by using widgets. If you want to get super spicy, you can even add a video clip of something to your lock screen. It’s simple to do. 

To get started, you need an iPhone, of course, and it needs to be running at least iOS 14 (though the latest version of iOS is always best).

Etsy: MagnifiqueStudio

How to make custom app icons and add them to your iPhone home screen

Get your thinking cap on – because this one requires some creativity.

1. Trim your apps

Before getting started, trim the number of apps on your home screen. Too many apps can look cluttered. Plus, if you want to change the icon for every app on your home screen, it’ll take less time if you only have a few. To remove an app, hold down on one, select “remove from home screen”, and confirm. You aren’t deleting it. Just swipe from right on your home screen to find it in the App Library, or you pull down on the home screen to search for it.

Apple has a support page with extra information and tips about how to neatly organise your home screen and make perfect use of the App Library.

2. Find app icons to use

Once you have a select few apps on your home screen, go find some photos on the internet or in your camera gallery that you want to turn into app icons. On Etsy, sellers offer thousands of themed icon packs you can buy and download online in a matter of seconds and for super cheap. There are also apps (like Color Widgets) and websites (like Flaticon) that offer free icons for you to download and use. Or, you can use a photo you took and have saved.

If you’re going for an aesthetic, stick with a theme. Those of you going with Halloween, for instance, could try pics of bats, witches, etc, for icons.

3. Make app shortcuts

Open Apple’s Shortcuts app. It’s a pre-installed app, so there’s no need to download it.

You’re going to use Shortcuts to replace the app icons on your home screen with all the icons and photos you curated in step two above. You just create a shortcut for an app and then add it to your home screen. It will look like an app and work like one – but it’ll have the custom icon and name you gave it.

In the Shortcuts app, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the + in the corner.
  2. On the new shortcut pane, tap Add Action.
  3. In the menu that pops up, search for and select “Open app”.
  4. On the new shortcut pane, tap Choose and select the app you want to open.
  5. Click the in the corner to access the details pane.
  6. On the details pane, tap Add to Home Screen.
  7. On the preview pane, tap the shortcut name field (under Home Screen Name and Icon).
  8. Delete “new shortcut” and enter a new name for the app.
    • Perhaps use the name of the app you’re trying to open (like “TikTok”).
  9. Tap the icon next to the shortcut name (under Home Screen Name and Icon).
  10. In the edit icon menu that pops up, select Choose photo.
  11. Your photo gallery will pop up. Select a photo you want to use as an icon.
  12. On the preview pane, tap Add.
  13. Now leave Shortcuts and look at your home screen to see the result.
    • You should see the app shortcut you created with a custom icon and name.
    • Remove the original app from your home screen so it doesn’t show both apps.

Now repeat all the steps above for every app you want to change on your home screen. Again, if you’re going for an aesthetic, stick with a theme.

Note: With the Shortcuts app, you can get extra creative. You can make custom shortcuts or use Apple’s starter shortcuts and save them as “apps” to your home screen – with their own icons, too! The idea is, with a quick tap on the app shortcut you’ve made, you can open a specific YouTube video or message your partner on Snapchat or launch Shazam. The possibilities are endless. You can really go overboard creating app shortcuts and icons for everything.

Apple has a support page with extra information and tips about how to use the Shortcuts app to maximise your iPhone experience.

Etsy: MagnifiqueStudioHow to customise your iPhone home screen with shortcuts and widgets photo 1

How to make custom widgets and add them to your iPhone home screen

There are several apps in the Apple App Store you can use to create a widget and add it to your home screen. Widgetsmith and Color Widgets are both popular examples. With them, you can pin a small, medium, or large photo to your home screen. For instance, if it’s Halloween, add a pumpkin photo.

For the purposes of this guide, we will tell you how to easily use Color Widgets because it has a better UI than Widgetsmith, in our opinion.

  1. Open Color Widgets and go to the Widgets pane.
  2. Under the Photos row, select the “Create your own photo widget” option.
  3. In the photo gallery that pops up, select a photo and confirm the crop.
  4. On the customise screen, you can add a border colour if you want.
  5. When done customising, tap Set Widget.
  6. You may be asked to replace an existing widget or create a new one.
  7. Leave Color Widgets, go to the home screen, and press down in an empty area.
  8. Tap the + in the corner.
  9. Search for the “Color Widgets” widget.
  10. When it opens, go to the size widget you want to add and then select Add Widget.
  11. It will then be added to your home screen.
    1. You may need to edit your widget to select the right one
    2. To edit the widget, hold down and tap Edit Widget.
    3. Select the widget you intended to add to your home screen.

Note: There are caveats to widget customisation apps. For instance, many of them cost money to use after their free trial expires. They also add their name to the widget on your home screen and either don’t allow you to remove the name or they make you pay extra to do so. Finally, the widgets themselves are often very limited. They can be a photo that opens to the widget customisation app, they can be a clock or calendar, and not much else.

Etsy: MidnightPopHow to customise your iPhone home screen with shortcuts and widgets photo 2

How to make a video wallpaper and add it to your iPhone lock screen

You should probably also change your iPhone’s home screen to finish the aesthetic makeover you’re trying to achieve. Don’t know how? Apple has a support page with more information, but here’s the quick version: Go to Settings on your iPhone, tap Wallpaper, then select Choose New Wallpaper. Easy peasy.

Those of you who want to go a step further should also change your lock screen to something more on theme. You could even go all out and use a video wallpaper (or “Live Photo”, as Apple calls them). These are GIF-like wallpapers that move when you press down on the screen. Neat, right?

1. Find a video

The first thing you need to do is find a video clip you like and save it to your camera roll. You can use something you filmed or a TikTok you saved. (For instance, for Halloween, we saved this TikTok video and turned it into a video wallpaper for our lock screen.) Just make sure your video is short. If you want to crop or edit the video before making it your wallpaper, you don’t need a video-editing app; simply hit the Edit button on the video in your gallery.

2. Make a Live Photo

Now you need to make your video clip into a video wallpaper (or what Apple calls a “Live Photo” for this situation ). It’s basically a GIF – hence why we said grab a short video to use. There are several ways to make a video wallpaper/Live Photo/GIF from a video, but the easiest is to use a free app like Giphy.

For the purposes of this guide, we will tell you how to use Giphy:

  1. Open Giphy and tap Create +.
  2. Select the GIF option and then go to your camera roll to pick a video.
  3. Once you got a video, you will be given the option to trim it.
    • Hit continue once you’ve trimmed it.
  4. Giphy serves up other editing options, like crop, text, and stickers.
    • When done, hit the arrow button.
  5. Now select Upload to Giphy.
    • You can set the visibility to public or private.
  6. Once the GIF uploads, you can find it under Uploads on your profile in the app.
  7. Tap on the GIF to open it and then go to its menu options (three-dot icon).
  8. Under the menu options, select “Conver to Live Photo“.
    • You can choose full screen or fit to screen.
  9. Now you’re ready to set your “Live Photo” (or video wallpaper) as your wallpaper.

3. Set your video wallpaper

To set a video wallpaper to your lock screen, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to Wallpaper.
  3. Tap Choose a New Wallpaper.
  4. Select the Live Photo you created above in step two.
  5. Make sure the Live Photo option is toggled on (next to scale).
  6. You can also move and scale the Live Photo to your liking.
  7. Once done, hit Set.

Now go to your lock screen and press on the display to see your wallpaper come to life. Amazing! 

Want more help?

Pocket-lint also has a roundup of some of the best iPhone wallpapers.

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Originally published on .

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