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 strict 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 you can easily use SSH to create your own themes and replace graphics and audio files for a truly custom look.

Prerequisite tutorials for creating themes:
Unlike previously, I am not creating a series of standalone WinterBoard tutorials. It's too time consuming and some of the information is redundant and unnecessary. I've decided to distill the contents of my previous series into a one-page list of most popular graphics, files and sounds that you can theme. This page is called... The only standalone WinterBoard tutorial I have, is for creating a custom image for your phone's keypad. Note: DreamBoard (free) and Springtomize 2 (paid) are two other Cydia programs that allow you to theme the look of your iPhone. I have no plans to create tutorials for these products at this time. You can read an article about Springtomize at the ModMyi forum here.




Introduction to WinterBoard

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 (or your desktop if you will), 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, or themes that are not on Cydia), 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). 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 (that may work on 5.x firmware). In order are: Amphibious, Chromatic Neon, Glass Orb and Vending Machine. Keep in mind these themes may not be complete as some icons don't match the style of the others.

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Installation

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

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Press the reboot button when prompted. Once installed, you'll see an icon for WinterBoard. There are two ways to launch this program, either press this icon...

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...or launch your Settings application where WinterBoard has added its own submenu.
  • Select Themes - This is where you can select what theme you want to use on the iPhone.
  • SummerBoard Mode - The predecessor to WinterBoard, this switch should be left on if you use older themes.
  • Hide WinterBoard - Makes the icon disappear from the SpringBoard.
  • Advanced (For Themers) - Provides tools most users won't need.


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There are many basic themes included by default. Several of them don't work! 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 (say the icon for the Notes application), then the theme that is higher up on the list will have priority.

One of the quirks is the theme White Icon Labels. Even though it doesn't have a check mark next to it (indicating it is turned on) the icon text is still a bolder white than normal.

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I'll install Transparent Dock. I've used the gray button to the right to drag it to the top (you don't have to do this, I'm just demonstrating) and then I pressed it and it now has a check mark next to it. Now press the WinterBoard button. Press the Respring button. Look at that, the dock has disappeared. That's how easy it is to use WinterBoard.

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Let me show you one more theme. No Undocked Icon Labels removes the application name from any icon not in the dock.

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Let's take a look at that Advanced (Themers) button. Unfortunately Saurik (the creator of this program) isn't big on documentation so this screen is a bit of a mystery to me.
  • Optimize Themes - Processes anything in the Themes directory and alters the png files to conform to Apple's system of encoding. It does something with the color channels to make them load or process faster on the iPhone. You may or may not notice a difference when using this feature, and you can get by just fine without it.
  • Debug Logging - I don't know what this does.
  • Record UIImages does - I don't know what this does.


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