Customizing Android App Icons

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The nice thing about Android is the fact that it is Open Source. This is a great since we have the freedoms to do what ever we want with. It becomes so much more customizable. Their are many apps in the Android Market place catored to customizing the looks of your Android appearance.

They range from Launchers, Launcher Themes, Boot Screens, Screen LockIcon Themes and more. If you can’t find something that fits your style, your free to make your own.

Not only this but their is tons of documentation online about customizing the look of your Android device. Surprisingly I couldn’t find any documentation about customizing it the way I’m about to show you. In my opinion this is by far the best way to customize App icons.

What You’ll Need

  • A Computer (Preferably Linux based)
  • An Android Device
  • 7-Zip (If your using Windows)
  • The App you that you want to customize
  • Drivers for your Android Device (If your using Windows)
  • Pictures of the Icons you will want your App to have
  • GIMP

Getting Down To Business

If you want to customize an app that ships by default with your Android device you will need be Rooted. Also if you have an App that can’t be moved to the SD Card you will need to be Rooted. Otherwise you don’t need to be rooted to do this hack.

So what we do is we will download the App that we want to customize from the Android Market. I will use Dolphin for this example. We will get the app put onto the SD Card. Now we just plug the Android device into our computer. Copy the App onto the computer.

Once the App is on our computer we will use our archiving tool to access the App contents. So if we are using Windows we will use 7-Zip access it. To access it we will right click on the App and choose to open it with 7-Zip. From here we will see many different files and directories. With Dolphin what you should see in the root of the .apk is the following.

  • assets (Directory)
  • META-INF (Directory)
  • res (Directory)
  • AndroidManifest.xml (XML data file)
  • resources.arsc (File)
  • classes.dex (File)
  • dummy (Dummy Data File)

Now if we go into the res directory we will see several other directories. I would just extract all of the content from the res directory onto the computer.

Then if you open up the drawable-hdpi directory you will see several pictures. You can change pretty much any aspect of any existing app on your Android Device in this way. However we will just modify the Dolphin logo.

When I first got my phone I was a big Firefox fan. However Firefox mobile didn’t work on my phone. So I changed the icon of the browser on my phone to have the firefox logo. Since then I have grown to love Google Chrome. And like Firefox Mobile, Chrome Mobile beta doesn’t support my phone yet. So we will change the dolphin logo with the chrome logo.

Our images that we will use need to be the exact same size as the ones we are going to replace. They also need to be the same name and format. So we will change the following images.

  • about_icon.png (137px by 137px)
  • ic_launcher_browser.png (72px by 72px)
  • welcome_icon.png (163px by 163px)

As you can see all three of the images above are in a PNG format. So if your images aren’t in PNG foramat we will need to change them to be in PNG format.

We will now open up the image that we want to add with GIMP, and we will change it’s size to 137px by 137px. We then will save it as about_icon.png. Now we adjust the size of the image again to 163px by 163px. And we save it as welcome_icon.png Now we adjust the size once again and change it to 72px by 72px, and we will save it as ic_launcher_browser.png.

Now using 7-Zip we will open up the APK again. Navigate to res/drawable-hdpi and copy the new images into the directory. 7-Zip will ask you if your sure you want to replace those files and you will tell it that you are sure.

Now we will exit 7-Zip and we will copy the modified APK back to our Android device. We will then place the APK in the location that it is supposed to be installed to. And that should be it.

If their are problems with using it. Another route could be to uninstall the old App. And enable the Unknown Source options found in the Settings > Applications Settings. Then navigating to the location that your new app is stored. And tapping it. It will ask you if you want to install it. Say yes. Now your modified App should have the Icon that you want it to have.

Happy Hacking 😉