Make and use themes with WinterBoard

WinterBoard is a great program for customzing the visual and aural feel of your iPhone. It works by hooking into the iPhone's system and replacing the stock graphics, or audio files, with whatever custom files you'd like on the fly. WinterBoard itself does not require the use of SSH to talk to the iPhone, as there are hundreds of themes avaialble in Cydia for simple, push of a button installation. However, as this series of tutorials will demonstrate, you can easily use SSH to create your own themes and replace graphics and audio files for a truly custom look.

With the introduction of the iPhone 4, and its higher resolution screen, a new set of graphics was created to support the iPhone 4. They are larger in size and their file names are unique. iPhone 4 graphics (sometimes referred to as HD graphics or retina display) are twice the size of non-iPhone 4 graphics. For example an application icon that is 59 x 60 pixels in size for the iPhone 3G, is 118 x 120 pixels in size for the iPhone 4. iPhone 4 graphics also have an @2x designation that appears just before the .png extension for example icon@2x.png. It's important to note that if the iPhone 4 needs a particular graphic and one doesn't exist with an @2x designator, it will default to the non-iPhone 4 version of that same graphic. When the iPhone 4 does this it upscales the graphic. The graphic may appear fuzzy or have other visible artifacts as it is not meant to be viewed at a higher resolution.

Prerequisite tutorials

Section 1: Introduction to WinterBoard
Section 2: Creating a basic theme
Section 3: Changing program icons
Section 4: Changing battery icons
Section 5: Changing carrier logos
Section 6: Changing the folder icon and background graphics
Section 7: Changing sliders (with custom text and audio)
Section 8: Changing the progress wheel
Section 9: Changing system sounds
Section 10: Changing the SpringBoard page indicators and the Spotlight search indicator
Section 11: Simplifying the lock screen
Section 12: Custom keypad dialer
Section 13: Rotating your own images as wallpaper
Section 14: Changing the notification badges
Section 15: Animated lock screen images
Section 16: Animated SpringBoard images
Section 17: Changing the lock screen clock font
Section 18: Custom SMS (Messages) background image
Section 19: Changing status bar images (carrier bars, Wi-Fi bars, GPRS, EDGE, 3G, battery), and more!
Section 20: Removing the shadows & overlays from icons
Section 21: Removing the gradient graphic from wallpaper images
Section 22: Adding the text shadow to the White Icon Labels theme

While this isn't a WinterBoard tutorial, you could use WinterBoard to theme the LockInfo program, which is used to provide infomation on your lockscreen. Read it here. When a theme for 4.x firmware comes out that works with LockInfo, I'll make a dedicated WinterBoard tutorial for it.

You may also want to read about DreamBoard, a competitor program to Winterboard, here.

Section 1: Introduction to WinterBoard

Updated: August 23, 2010

What is a theme? A theme is the graphical "look" of a phone. In the case of the iPhone, a theme consists largely of the way the SpringBoard, dock and all the program icons look. A theme can ultimately involve every single graphic being changed. Usually no one goes to that extent to customize their iPhone - it's just too many graphics to change. There are a handful of graphics you can change to create a dramatic look, however.

You can change the iPhone's appearance with a couple programs. You need Cydia, WinterBoard, OpenSSH (if you want to upload your own personal images), and a program to make your graphics. I use Adobe Photoshop (you can get a free trial of this program), you could also use Adobe Photoshop Elements (which also has a free trial, and is less expensive option than Photoshop at $99). You can learn more about these trial versions at this page. GIMP is a free alternative to Photoshop, which is also a very powerful program. You can download GIMP here. If you don't want to create your own images, you can use the themes that are already available through Cydia in the various "Themes" folders.

Here are some examples of themes that are available for 4.x firmware. In order are: iWood-Realize, CandyMilk, Vending Machine Free, Glass Orb, Chromatic Neon, and Amphibious. Currently there aren't many themes available for the iPhone 4.

iPhone       iPhone

iPhone       iPhone

iPhone       iPhone

To install WinterBoard, launch Cydia and press the Search button. Enter winterboard in the text box and it should appear as the first choice.

iPhone       iPhone

Press it to select it. Follow through with the rest of the installation process and reboot the iPhone when requested. Once installed, you'll see an icon for WinterBoard. There are two ways to launch this program, either press this icon...

iPhone       iPhone

...or launch your Settings application where WinterBoard has added its own submenu. I'll cover using the Settings application. Press the WinterBoard menu entry. If you press Select Themes, this is where you can select what you want to modify on the iPhone.

iPhone       iPhone

There are many basic themes included by default. Several of them don't work on 4.0 firmware yet. Keep in mind you can combine themes by selecting more than one. You can also change their order in the list. When one theme is higher up on the list than another theme, and they both change the same element, the theme on top will have priority. When you select an item it will have a check mark next to it. Then you press your Home button and the iPhone will respring and load the changes.

iPhone       iPhone

The first theme is White Icon Labels. Here is the before and after.

iPhone       iPhone

The User Wallpaper and User Lock Background themes have been made obsolete with iOS 4. You now have direct control over what image goes on your lock screen and SpringBoard pages through the Settings application in the Wallpaper menu.

The Transparent Dock theme doesn't work correctly.

The Solid Status Bar theme doesn't work correctly.

Server Lock Example uses an HTML file to call some text from a server and display it on your lock screen.

iPhone       iPhone

The Saurik theme has provides an alternate slide to unlock message, and features two wallpaper images that dissolve in and out of each other. I don't like how the wallpaper meets the dock. This theme could benefit from a transparent dock.

iPhone       iPhone

No Undocked Icon Labels removes the application name from any icon not in the dock.


The No Docked Icon Labels theme doesn't work correctly.

The Dim Wallpaper theme doesn't work correctly.

The Dim Icons theme doesn't work correctly.

Black Navigation Bars makes the top bar of any menu black.

iPhone       iPhone

Return to top of page