Few apps on iPhone provide you with ways to change their color scheme, aside from dark mode in iOS 13 and later, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give an app a new color theme or filtered look. With the Shortcuts app in iOS 14 and above, it’s completely possible, and it works in just about any app.
For example, if you’re tired of the same old dark theme that Apple’s Calculator app has worn since iOS 11, which has pretty much the same color scheme since its inception, you can give it a new look. To perform this magic, we’ll be using some accessibility settings to reverse or filter the interface.
Change the color of an app without shortcuts
Without the Shortcuts app, you can still change an app̵
For example, if you want an app to use the Classic Invert theme, you can set that to work with the triple click accessibility shortcut on your iPhone so that every time you triple click the side or home button in an app it will work. enable Classic Invert. Then click three more times to turn it off when you’re done so it doesn’t affect the rest of your system.
You can also use the three-click accessibility shortcut to add a color filter to an app. First, go to Settings -> Accessibility -> Display & Text Size -> Color Filters. Enable color filters and then choose between grayscale, red / green, green / red, or blue / yellow filters. You can also choose Color Tone and choose a specific shade and intensity that looks good in the respective app.
You can then turn it off, set it to work with the accessibility shortcut, and triple click in the app to turn it on or off.
The accessibility shortcut can also be set to Reduce White Point (which makes the white less bright), Smart Invert, Zoom (which can lower the screen brightness), Reduce Transparency and Increase Contrast.
If you don’t want to triple-click anything, you can set the Classic Flip, Smart Flip, Zoom, or Accessibility shortcut (this can be one of the triple-click gestures mentioned above) to double-tap or triple-tap from the back of your iPhone 8 or newer.
Automate the color change in a shortcut
If you want to change the look of a particular app, you can automate it so that it turns on when you open the app, and when you close it, it turns off again.
Right now, the built-in actions only let you use Classic Invert, Smart Invert, Increase Contrast, White Point, Reduce Transparency, Zoom, Dark Mode, and Light Mode, so there’s no way to make it work with Color Filters at the moment. However, you can use Zoom to apply filters such as Grayscale, Inverted Grayscale, and Low Light, which is the next best thing.
In the Shortcuts app, tap “Automation” at the bottom. Then tap on ‘Create Personal Automation’. If you don’t see that, first tap the plus sign (+) to find it. Then select ‘App’.
Tap ‘Choose’ next to Appand then choose the app you want to change the theme of. In my case that is Calculator. Tap Done.
Now make sure “Is Opened” and “Is Closed” are both checked, and click “Next”.
Tap “Add Action” on the workflow screen and find the action you want to use. For me I want to use “Set Classic Invert”, but you can use a different action. Options include, but are not limited to:
- Set Classic Invert
- Set the increase contrast
- Set the light / dark mode
- Set Reduce Transparency
- Set Smart Invert
- Set the white point
- Set zoom
Tap “Rotate” in the action card and set it to “Swap”, then click “Next”.
Now turn off the “Ask Before Running” switch and confirm with “Don’t Ask” at the prompt. Tap “Done” and that’s it.
Now you just need to open the respective app to see how it works. Whenever you open it, it should turn on Classic Invert or whatever you choose, and when you exit the app, it should turn off again.
Hopefully future editions of Shortcuts will include actions for “Set Color Filter” or “Set Back Tap” or “Set Accessibility Shortcut” so that there are more options to choose from when it comes to theming apps. Please consider sending feedback to Apple to request these features.
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