Introduction to WinterBoard

Updated: February 16, 2013

WinterBoard is a great program for customzing the visual look and the sound of your iPhone. It works by hooking into the iPhone's system and replacing the stock graphics and audio files with any 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 ready to go complete themes available in Cydia for simple, push of a button installation. However you can easily use SSH to create your own themes and replace graphics for a truly custom look.

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 most every graphic being changed. There are some great themes out there for the iPhone 5 in which a tremendous amount of the graphics and the way default programs look have been changed. If you don't want to go to that extent then there are a handful of graphics you can change to create a dramatic look.

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 a few themes for iOS 6. The themes pictured below are called Ayecon, Ambriel, XiD and exxOS (via ModMyi.com). Keep in mind you are only seeing the home screen. These themes extend their look throughout most of the iPhone's various programs as well.

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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. Press the reboot button when prompted.

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Once installed, you'll see an icon for WinterBoard. You can also launch it from within Settings.

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  • 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 or use older naming conventions in your themes.
  • Hide WinterBoard - Makes the icon disappear from the SpringBoard.
  • Advanced (For Themers) - Provides tools most users won't need.


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When WinterBoard came out years ago it came with many themes installed so that you could see some of the things it can do out of the box. Sadly, over the years more and more of the default theme items included have been released in a broken state. I could only find one thing that worked by default Transparent Dock.

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 and you'll see the graphics it's using instead of the graphics from the theme below it which may also change the Notes application.

I'll install Transparent Dock. Here's what the dock looks like normally. It's that grayish looking shelf that Phone, Mail, Safari and Music rest on. Press Transparent Dock and a check mark will appear next to it meaning it's selected. Press the WinterBoard button to back up a screen.

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Then 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'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. This may help you in creating a theme as it will save any images that it isn't replacing into a folder so that you can modify them to have a more complete theme.


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