May 22 AT 12:00 PM Alex Byrnes 3 Comments

Un-packing Icon Packs

Icon packs are a cheap, easy way to beautify your phone but they can take up a lot of precious application space and they’re usually designed to be used with one desktop manager. Here’s a simple way to make them easier to handle. You will need root access on your phone. If you don’t have root, you can try the JesusFreke Images or Haykuro’s.

An Android application file (extension .apk) is just a zip file in disguise. Replace the a-p-k with z-i-p and they will be recognized as a zip archive by any zip archiver like WinZip, Windows Explorer (seen as compressed folders), StuffIt etc. This also includes the handy ASTRO for Android. You can use any combination of these tools to do the same thing, but I’m going to use ASTRO because you can actually do all of this on your phone without developer tools like adb.

If you have the SDK and know how to use adb, just replace the terminal commands with commands in “adb shell.” It’s also easy to type “adb pull /data/app/” and work with it from your desktop. First, open Terminal Emulator. Type “su” to get super user privileges. At this point you may get a prompt from “Superuser Whitelist” if you’re working with a JF Image for root. Add Terminal Emulator to the whitelist and you’re free to go on as root.

cd /
chmod 777 data
cd data
chmod 777 app
cd app

You’re now in the directory with all your .apk files. Do an “ls” to see everything that’s in there. I picked the RBO icon pack as an example.

mv com.betterandroid.icons.robo.apk
chmod 777
Copying with ASTRO

Copying with ASTRO

You’re done with Terminal Emulator for now. Open ASTRO and browse to the zip file. Tap on it and it should open. Go into the “assets” and then the “icons” directory. You should see a list of .png files.

From here you can do what you want with the images. You can hit menu, Edit, Select All, then menu, Edit, copy and browse to the directory where you want them (I recommend /sdcard, which will put them on your sd card) and hit menu, Edit, paste to copy them there.

The Extracted Icons

The Extracted Icons

Deleting the icons you don’t want in place doesn’t work. You won’t be able to see the application on your desktop anymore or reinstall it because the signature won’t work with fewer files in the archive. This shouldn’t matter, however, because applications like BetterCut that allow you to change shortcut icons work just as well from the raw file on your sd card.

If you’re going to get rid of the icon pack, the safest thing to do is change the extension back to .apk (you can do this with ASTRO now that the file permissions are set) and uninstall normally. Luckily, ASTRO does that too. Just click on the apk and hit “Uninstall.” You can also just delete the .zip file, although there will be a reference in Settings ⇒ “Manage applications” to the icon pack that will need to be removed as well. You can uninstall it as if it were an application.

[Custom theme images via Extreme Themes]

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  • brad cooper

    I tried this with an ahome theme – changed the permissions and accessed the apk as a zip. I copied in a couple pngs that were named the same, overwriting what was in there, used astro to rename back to apk and upon trying to install the apk through astro it gave me an error.

    Not sure where I went wrong.

    • Alex Byrnes

      Thanks for the comment, brad.

      Any changes to the package could affect the signature will make the apk invalid. I’m guessing that one component of the signature is a checksum. You may need to delete it an reinstall from the market if you still want it. Be sure to go to the installed files list and remove the reference too.

  • http://Website Ozzy Pravid

    great tut…:D
    i’m just wondering if maybe you know how i can do the opposite…like compile icons into an icon pack so as to avoid having my icons litter my album?
    Hope you can help or point me in the right direction!