All the ways iOS 16 lets you customize your iPhone lock screen

All the ways iOS 16 lets you customize your iPhone lock screen

This story has been updated. It was originally published on September 12, 2022.

Apple’s newest iPhone operating system, iOS 16, features a completely reimagined lock screen customization process. If you like, you can shuffle photos and change font style and color. You can also add useful widgets and make your security screen a dizzying vortex full of crabs.

There are many things to look at within this large update ,. But before you get too involved in the details, take some time to play with the lock screen settings. A fresh look for your handheld distraction box will add some excitement to your day.

If your phone doesn’t automatically download the update or prompt you to do so, get started by opening the settings app, tapping General, and selecting Software Update. You’ll have the option to download and install iOS 15.7 or Upgrade to iOS 16. To get the new lock screen customization features, choose the latter.

How to add a new lock screen in iOS 16

Once you install iOS 16, open the settings app and go to Wallpaper. Under the images of your current lock screen and home screen wallpapers, you’ll see Add New Wallpaper. To start creating something new, tap that.

You can, of course, edit your two active screens from the main wallpaper settings page (via Customize under each one), but you won’t be able to change the background style. This means that if the photo is a photo, it won’t display the weather or an absurd emoji pattern. You can only change the pic.

Adding a wallpaper is the only way to select from all styles. There are better ways to edit all of your lock and home screens. We’ll get to it later.

What to expect from each style of iOS 16 wallpaper

The Add New Wallpaper menu offers a slew of options. The page will display a list of all styles, with a selection of presets Apple believes you might like. These include several custom designs, suggested photos from your phone, and color gradients, but they’re all variations on iOS 16’s main wallpaper styles, and you can do better. This is the DIY section.

How to make a photo your wallpaper

Setting a photo as your phone’s background is a classic move, and it’s the first visible choice on iOS 16’s wallpaper creation screen. Tap Photos from the row at the top of the screen, and you’ll have the option to dig through All your photos or browse those Apple has grouped under tags like Featured, People, Nature, and Cities. (The People tag here and the People option on the main screen lead to the same place.) If you’ve painstakingly organized your phone’s photo library, toggle the switch at the top of the screen to Albums to dig through your well-curated catalog.

You can also use this search bar to find something specific, such as words in images. That means if you enter “New York,” your iPhone’s Live Text feature will dredge up any photos of the “Welcome to New York” highway sign you may have taken, screenshots of text messages where you mention the state, and pics Apple knows you snapped within its borders.

[Related: Smartphone security starts with the lock screen. Here are some ways to protect your phone. ]

Once you have made your selection, you can edit the lock screen photo. You can pinch the screen to crop the image by zooming in or out, but you cannot make it smaller than the screen. You don’t like the way it looks? To find another one, tap the photos icon at the bottom left (a stylized rectangular picture of mountains).

With a photo in place, swipe to your left to select from four filters: natural (black and white), duotone (duotone), and color wash. The first two filters are self-explanatory. The latter two cover the original image with different-colored tints.

Tap the three dots in the bottom right to activate Depth effect .. This effect will not be available for all photos as it pulls the photo’s foreground in front of the clock, and any widgets on your lock screen. Behold: depth. If the foreground selection will cover too much of your clock and/or widgets (maybe about 50 percent), you won’t be able to use this feature.

Set multiple photos as your wallpaper

New to iOS 16 is the ability to slap a rotating selection of images onto your lock or home screen. To start, tap Photo Shuffle from top of main wallpaper customization menu. Find Shuffle Frequency in the middle of the page and tap on it to decide if you want the pictures to change On Tap, On Lock, Hourly, or Daily. These two options are self-explanatory. On Touch allows you to change your lock screen display at any time. On lock will move to next image every time you lock your phone, even if you haven’t unlocked it.

From there, you have two choices: Use Featured Photos or Select Photos Manually. For full customization, pick the latter, and tap or drag to select multiple photos for your background. Hit Add in the top right corner of the screen to move on.

If you’d rather use Apple’s featured images from your photo library, tap People, Nature, Cities, and any other options to add or remove those groups of images. Touch Choose next to People, and you’ll be able to tap on thumbnails of people’s faces to decide which ones show up in the shuffle–hit Done to finish. To continue, tap Use featured photos

Regardless of whether you used Apple’s presets or manually selected, the editing process for a single pic is the same. To move from one photo to another, tap the screen.

While editing three will let you set the frequency of the shuffle if you forgot it on the first page. You can also enable Depth , if you choose your own images. However, this is not possible if you used featured photos. Instead, you’ll see Don’t Feature Photo–tap this to cut anything you don’t like.

The icon at the bottom left will vary depending on whether you choose your images manually or automatically. If you did, it’s a grid of six rectangles–tap it to Add Photos to your rotation or Select the ones already there. Highlight one or more images and you’ll be able to see a trashcan icon . To remove photos you don’t want to use, you can touch it. Run with Apple’s featured photographs. The icon will consist of a stack rectangles with a sparkle icon. You can change the categories in your shuffle.

Design a wallpaper out of emojis

Personally, I found this option to be the most confusing, but there is plenty of customization. Tap Emoji from the main wallpaper creation menu, and you’ll be able to type up to six emojis that will display in a pattern on your lock and home screens. When you’re ready, tap above the emoji entry menu or hit the X in its top right corner to continue.

Swipe to select from six patterns, ranging from grids of different sizes to a hypnotic swirl. To change your emoji selections, tap the smiley faces at the bottom left. Or hit the three dot at the bottom right to change the background color.

Focus your wallpaper on the weather, outer space, or color

The Weather, Astronomy, and Color options are the most basic wallpaper options available, though that doesn’t mean they’re uninteresting. Tap Weather, for instance, and your wallpaper will be a slightly animated depiction of whatever the weather is where you are, but that’s it.

Astronomy is a little deeper, as you’ll be able to choose from Earth (a view of our planet suspended in space), Earth Detail (where about a quarter of the visible hemisphere fills most of the screen), the same two options for the moon, and Solar System (which shows all the planets and their orbits around the sun).

[Related: Why is Pluto no longer a planet? ]

Color is fairly self-explanatory: You choose a color, adjust its hue with the slider at the bottom of the screen, and pick from one of six gradient options. If you don’t like what it looks like, click the colored circular to choose again.

How to edit the time on your lock screen

No matter what wallpaper style you choose, the clock will be your next-largest part of your lock screen. You should personalize that too, as it is an integral part of your new aesthetic. Tap the time to choose from eight fonts and countless colours, including the option to make the digits transparent (the first color option to the left). You’ll only see 15 colored dots across the bottom of the screen, but if you’re not feeling any of them, the final one on the right will let you pick colors from a grid or spectrum, or plug in a specific color hex code to get exactly what you want.

In the Font & Color Menu, you’ll see a globe icon. This icon can be used to select whether your clock displays

Arabic Indic numerals, which are used in parts of the Arab world, or Devanagari. Tap this, and you’ll be able to choose whether your clock displays Arabic numerals (the ones used everywhere in this article), Arabic Indic numerals (used in parts of the Arab world), or Devanagari numerals (used in northern Indian languages).

If you hate being reminded of the constant march of time, sorry, you can’t remove the clock. You can, however, try to match the wallpaper color so that those anxious digits disappear completely or partially.

There are two places widgets can be placed on your iPhone’s lockscreen: above and below the clock. You can tap the thin space at the top to change the widget.

The main widget area is located below the clock and can hold up to four widgets (or none, depending on how much you want to hide your lock screen photo). You can select from the available options by tapping where it says Add widgets ,. No matter how many widgets you choose, they will stay centered in that space. You can also remove any widgets you don’t want by tapping the minus icon in its top left corner. To rearrange them, press and hold the widget until it grows under your finger. Then drag it to where you want it. One thing to note: If you choose a widget that occupies two of the four spaces it will always display on its left side. You can’t move it.

Most widget options will be accessible in both places, but you might see some exceptions. For example, the battery widget cannot be placed below the clock. It will indicate how much juice you have left on your phone or other connected devices.

[Related: 4 tips to make your phone battery last longer]

You can also fine-tune widgets by tapping on the icons to select from different display options. For example, the reminder widget will only show you the next item you have to do each day, while weather widget provides a wide range of data visualizations.

One note: It’s difficult to customize widgets within the upper section. You can only modify a widget after it is placed. You can’t change a widget if you do something else. If you are wondering why your clock widget displays the time in Cupertino (California) and not your hometown, you will need to select another widget. Tap elsewhere, touch the upper widget area, then choose the clock widget. Then, tap the button to choose a specific city. Gross.

This annoying workaround is not necessary in the main widget section below the time, where any widget can be touched and customized whenever you like.

If your weather widget isn’t working, it may be because you have turned off your location in the weather app settings. To fix that, open the main iPhone settings app, go to Weather, Location, and select While Using the App or Widgets, Always, or While Using the App. You can still turn Precise location off to protect your privacy. This will allow your weather app to only calculate your approximate location (it was approximately four miles from me).

Finally, hit the X or tap outside of the widget menu to set your selections.

Finalize your lock screen

When everything looks perfect, hit Add in the top right corner of your screen. To add your new lock screen to the home screen, tap Set As Wallpaper Pair on your next screen. To have all your app icons displayed on top of one another, select Customize Your Home Screen to adjust its color or choose a new image for what is essentially your phone’s interior wallpaper.

If you have told your phone to use a wallpaper pairing but the home screen isn’t working, it could be accidentally blurred. To fix this, go to the main wallpaper settings screen, tap Customize under your home screen, and hit Blur. This should resolve the problem.

Edit your wallpaper from the lock screen

There are two ways to change your wallpaper. The most efficient is the one that you can access directly from your phone’s screen. To open the passcode entry screen, press the middle of your lock screen. If the keypad does not appear, and you need to swipe up to access it, you will go to your home screen. Not the wallpaper editing menu.

Do it right and you’ll see scrollable carousels of wallpapers. Hit Customize to edit whichever one is front and center. You can also change the wallpaper by going to the top and selecting Add new , or by tapping the blue plus icon in the bottom right.

To delete a wallpaper, locate it in the carousel by clicking up. Then tap the trash can icon and hit Delete This Wallpaper. Easy.

Finally, you can assign each wallpaper to a specific Focus, a feature that arrived with iOS 15. Just tap Focus at the bottom of any wallpaper to choose the one you want. You can close the wallpaper customization screen by hitting Focus Setting at the bottom of any wallpaper. You can also choose a Focus wallpaper by opening the settings app, selecting Focus, and tapping one of the Focuses to Choose its matching lock and home screen.

Phew, that’s all there is to say about the new iOS 16 lock screen settings and customization features. You might want to store all these options, such as outfits in a virtual wardrobe, or you may just want that cute photo of your dog or partner. You may not want to do this, but you will know that there is an alternative.

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