Ever find that you need to access a setting regularly and browsing the Settings app is an awkward way to handle it? If so, you’re far from alone. While Apple has cleaned up its organization and multitasking a bit in iOS 5, the app is still clunky and awkward to navigate. For a long time now, the best way around this was SBSettings, an app for jailbroken devices that gives you an easy-to-access drawer of commonly used settings.

Custom iOS shortcuts


But if jailbreaking isn’t your thing, you’re no longer out of luck — as long as you’re running iOS 5. Recently, an app called Icon Project was released that allows users to create custom icons, and with the right links those can be used to open settings. We covered Icon Project here. But iPhoneZA, a South African iPhone blog, has put together a great package that doesn’t require jailbreaking, installing any apps, or spending a dime.

Their service is called IconSettings, and it gives you one-touch icon shortcuts to any baked-in setting you need. Rather than dig through the Settings app, you can just tap the relevant icon to open the menu you’re looking for. It’s a time saver for anyone who frequently uses certain settings, certainly. Sound good? Here’s how you set it up:

First up, open Safari on your device and browse to Iphoneza.co.za/IconSettings/ — and do try not to get overwhelmed by the options presented. It’s a lot more straightforward than it looks.

There are two choices here: the automatic method and the manual method. The automatic method has a few up sides: it’s simpler, easy to uninstall, and doesn’t leave annoying blank tabs hanging out in Safari every time you use one of your shortcuts. You do have to allow iPhoneZA to install a configuration profile on your device, but this just lets them add the icons you request to your home screen. The manual method is a bit more complicated, but you don’t need to install anything. We’ll go into both below.

Automatic Method

On the IconSettings page and look under the heading “MobileConfig Profiles Method (Automatic).” There are three options you can choose from here.

1. “NEW HIGH RES – IconSettings v2.1 – Standard Icon Pack – FULL:” This option installs all 40 settings web clips on your home screen. They’ll be strewn across several pages, so you’ll need to organize them into folders yourself. Of course, if you’re navigating through several pages and deep into folders, you probably won’t be saving yourself any time compared to just using the built-in Settings app.

If you’re planning to install many of the icons, but not all of them, it’s still faster to use this option and delete the icons you don’t want. If you decide you want to install all 40 settings icons, the Standard Icon Pack has full-color icons.

2. “NEW HIGH RES – IconSettings v2.1 – Steristumpie Icon Pack – FULL” – This option does the same as the standard icon pack above, but with black and white icons. In our experience, the black and white icons are more consistent, while some of the color icons look better individually.

3. Single Icons: These let you install one icon at a time, which is perfect if there’s only a few settings you use regularly. These use the standard color icon set.

Tap on the link for either the pack or the setting you want to install. This will open Settings at the Profile page and ask your permission to install a profile. Tap the Install button, and enter your passcode if it’s requested — it’s needed to install any profile.

If you’re installing one of the full packs, this can take quite a while (about 20 seconds when we tested the process). Individual setting icons should be faster. If you want to install more icons once you’re done, open Safari back up and keep tapping the links for the settings you want to add.

Once you’ve got them installed, you can tap any of the icons you’ve installed to open the relevant settings menu. Since this workaround that makes this possible uses a web link, Safari will open for a split second before the Settings app does, but it shouldn’t keep blank tabs open after you’re done.

Manual Method

If you’d rather not install any profiles, you can do this the manual way instead. Scroll down the IconSettings page past the Automatic Install section until you reach the “OLD METHOD” heading. This is a bit clunkier – you’ll have to install each icon individually, and Safari will hang on to the blank tabs you open when you use your shortcuts.

Tap the icon of the setting you want. A new Safari tab will open, and a confirmation dialog will ask if you want to open the page in Settings. You don’t, so click “Cancel.” Instead, tap the icon in the middle of the bottom of the screen. Tap “Add to Home Screen” here, and then tap “Add.” Now you have an icon on your home screen for that setting. You can go back to the previous tab and do the same thing with any other settings you want to easily access.

Uninstalling Your Icons

To remove a single icon, delete it like you would an app — hold down on it for a full second, then tap the “x” that appears in the upper left corner. To remove icons or whole packs that you added with the automatic method, go to Settings > General > Profiles (or find and tap your new “Profile” icon), and tap the IconSettings pack you want to remove. This will open the profile, and you can tap Remove to delete all the icons in that pack. You’ll need to enter your passcode again, and removing a full pack will also take a good number of seconds.

Any that’s all there is to it. IconSettings is a project that’s currently under development, so some steps may change in time. But as long as iOS supports this method of accessing settings, your icons should keep on working, saving you precious seconds whenever you need a setting close at hand.