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Quick Tip: Change iPhone App Icons Without Jailbreak

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Blog UNEASYsilence figured out this nifty little way of changing the icons of your iOS apps. It’s simple, works on both Mac (s aapl) and PC, and best of all, you don’t have to jailbreak your device to get it to work. It’s a great way to, say, revert the official Twitter app icon to that of Tweetie 2.

It doesn’t work with official apps (either the default set or, etc.), unfortunately, so you won’t be able to completely customize your theme. But at least you don’t have to wait around for developers to change the icons on apps that offer great functionality but dismal aesthetics. Here’s how it works on an iPhone 4:

  1. Install iPhone Explorer (free, Mac/PC).
  2. Plug in your iPhone and launch iPhone Explorer.
  3. Navigate to “phone name/Apps/appname/,” replacing the italicized values with your own, of course.
  4. Backup the “[email protected]” file you find there by dragging it to a directory of your choice in Finder.
  5. Name your replacement icon (which must be a .PNG file, size 114×114, 72 PPI with no transparency and no layers) “[email protected]” (case-sensitive).
  6. Drag your replacement to that folder in iPhone Explorer, delete the original file, and manually power down and power back up your iPhone.

If you’re using an iPhone 3G or 3GS, instead of looking for and replacing filename “[email protected],” you’ll be working with “icon.png” and your replacement should be 57×57, not 114×114.

iPhone 4 and latest gen iPod touch users can also use this to replace not-so-nice looking icons that haven’t yet been updated for the Retina Display. Just replace the “icon.png” file with a new 114×114-sized version. That’s what I did with the PicPosterous app for the purposes of this article, and it works great, as you can see in the screenshot.

And for nervous users, don’t worry. As you don’t have root access to your device, you can’t accidentally remove any crucial elements of your device’s OS. You also don’t have to worry about those rounded edges on your icons. Just use a square image and iOS will round the corners for you.

What icons are you looking forward to changing?

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16 Responses to “Quick Tip: Change iPhone App Icons Without Jailbreak”

  1. Doesn’t seem to work for me. Only shows 3 apps: iBooks, Dropbox and Stanza from the 300 or so I have installed. Tried on desktop with latest iTunes and on laptop with iTunes 9.0. Both the same? :(

  2. To add, you can take the file called iTunesArtwork (located in Apps/ and copy it to your computer then add the extension .PNG to the file. This will give you a 512×512 icon that you can then use to resize to 114×114 for the retina display.

    For some odd reason, you have to click Get Info and add the extension there, simply pressing “Return” and adding the extension on the desktop does not work. This is on OSX of course.

    I’ve had great success with several icons but not others because I can’t figure out which is the icon file. Two Im having a hard time with are the Chase app and BeirutNights app.

  3. Have you actually tried this? Here is what I found:

    None of the 7 apps I inspected had a file called “[email protected]” The File Preview built into iPhone Explorer cannot preview .PNG files. I downloaded to the finder any .PNG files I found with icon in the title. Photoshop could not open/parse them. So, no joy here following these instructions. Anyone have any luck?