How to Add Custom Icons for Apps on Android

The customization is a huge advantage of owning an Android. Making a phone look and behave the way you want it to is a big deal for many mobile users. Unfortunately, stock customization options can only take you so far. That doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to make further changes though. If you want to change the look of your home screen completely, then customizing your app icons is the way to go. How do you do that? That’s what we’re here to teach you…

App Icons and Customisation

App icons are the little squares that you press to open an app from your home screen. In most cases, these icons are set. You’re familiar with the most popular ones, the big white S in the blue circle that means Skype, the white squiggle in the blue speech bubble that opens Facebook Messenger, Or the red and white envelope that opens your Gmail. But these icons, despite being trademarked and highly recognizable, aren’t a requirement.
You can change your icons to be whatever you want them to be. Maybe you want superhero themed icons, maybe you’re looking for something a little more minimalistic. Or maybe you want icons that carry a theme through your phone, so all black and white perhaps. It’ll take a little time to change all those icons over, but you won’t need much technical knowledge. So let’s go.

app icon and customization

The Launcher Issue

Every phone has a launcher. This is basically the part that you see like Windows is on your computer in a way. A Galaxy will use a Samsung Launcher, a Pixel uses a Google one. Every manufacturer has their own launcher. The bad news is that for the most part, these stock or default launchers won’t let you change your app icons (some do, but only in a very limited way). If you want complete freedom to use the icons you want, then you’re going to need to install a new launcher.
Now, don’t panic, this is nowhere near as serious or difficult as it sounds. There are tons of launchers available over Google Play, so have a look around and decide which one is right for you. Action Launcher, Evie Launcher are well known, but it’s the highly rated Nova Launcher which scored highest on the Tiger Mobiles launcher comparison test for 2018. So if you’re looking for ease of use and plenty of customization choices, then we’d recommend you go with Nova Launcher.

Installing Your New Launcher

You might be a little shocked here, but installing a new launcher and giving your phone a whole new look is probably one of the simplest things that you’ve ever done.

  1. Download the launcher that you want from the Google Play Store.
  2. Wait until the download is complete.
  3. Now hit the home button on your phone (you might have to hit it twice or three times, depending on what else you’ve been doing), and up should pop a little menu.
  4. The menu asks you to “complete action with” and then lists the launchers that are installed on your phone.
  5. Click the launcher you just installed, then hit “always” at the bottom to ensure that your new launcher works every time.
  6. That’s it. You’ve just installed a new launcher. It’s really that easy.

If you click on the icon for the launcher you installed you can access the settings menu for it, and from there you can customize pretty much anything you like. You might want to play around with those set for a little while just to see what your new app can do.

nova launcher

Getting Custom App Icons

Depending on which launcher you chose, you might find that you already have custom app icon packs installed that you can choose from. You’ll find these in the settings menu of your launcher. For example, in Nova Launcher, go to Settings, then Look and Feel, then Icons. If you don’t already have some icons to choose from, or if you don’t like the ones on offer, then you can download new ones.
Head to the Google Play store and search for “custom icon packs” and you’ll get a vast range of choices. Not sure which to choose? If you’re looking for simplicity in your design, then check out Click UI. If you want something retro, then look at Retrorika. PixBit will give you old school pixel icons, and Moonshine has some amazing designs. Atran gives you over 4000 icon choices, and TiGad Pro gives you 3D icons. The choice is really yours. Do be aware that many custom icon packs are paid, rather than free. If you’re looking for free then check out Adastra, Bleach, or Subtle Icons.

Using Your Custom Icons

Once you’ve downloaded a pack that you like, actually using your icons is simple.

  • Hit the icon for your launcher, go into Settings, and from there navigate to something like “look,” “appearance” or maybe “icons.”
  • The icon packs you downloaded should show up automatically in your launcher and you can decide which ones to use from there.

customize your app icons

For the most part, this will simply change every icon on your home screen to an icon in the particular theme that you’ve chosen. If you prefer to mix and match icons from different packs then you can do that too. Just long press on the icon you want to change on your home screen and you should get a list of options to change that icon. Simples.
Getting your Android to look the way you want it to look is really very easy. You’ll need to download a few things, and it might take a little time, but you can have any kind of icon that you want on your home screen. Your only problem now is choosing an icon pack out of the hundreds available to you…

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