How to change your iPhone lock screen with photos, emoji and widgets

Your lock screen can do so much more in iOS 16: This platform update offers a level of lock screen customization that iOS has never offered before, including widgets and wallpaper. Best of all, you’re not stuck with just one lock screen — you can create multiple ones to reflect the time of day, the weather, or your mood.

That’s an amount of customization that’s uncharacteristic of an Apple device. But beyond the entertainment value of turning your wallpaper into a grid of poo emojis, iOS 16 brings useful information at a glance that once required you to unlock your phone — and who definitely deserve a thumbs-up emoji.

Here’s how to completely design your new lock screen.

  • Press and hold any empty space on your lock screen
  • Tap the plus sign at the bottom to start creating a new lock screen

You can choose from the following basic options, represented by icons at the top of the screen:

  • Pictures
  • Photo mix
  • emoji
  • Time
  • Astronomy
  • Color

Below this row of options, you’ll see some featured setups and suggested images. Choose one of the preconfigured options or start from a basic template by choosing one of the icons at the top of the screen – the choice is yours.

Press and hold any empty space on your lock screen to get started.

Press and hold any empty space on your lock screen to get started.

Add New Wallpaper Screen

You can either choose one of the screens presented or start from scratch.

Once you’ve selected a screen, you’ll have a few customizations you can apply depending on the type of lock screen you’re working with. For example, here are some of the options you’ll find on photo lock screens:

  • Zoom in on the photo by pinching, or drag the image with two fingers to reposition it
  • Apply different filters and lighting effects by swiping the screen
  • Choose another image by tapping the photo icon at the bottom left
  • Adjust settings such as background color (if applicable) and perspective zoom by tapping the three-dot icon in the bottom right

Other types of lock screens have slightly different options, but the customization process is similar.

Change your font and color

You’re no longer stuck with a standard font for your lock screen clock – now you have six choices. Tap the clock in custom view and choose your font. This is also where you can choose your font color, which is applied to the time, date, and any widgets you add.

It’s true! Widgets! Once you’re happy with your choice of background and font, it’s time to choose your widgets.

Add Widgets

There are two places you can add widgets: inline with the date above the clock and in a rectangular “shelf” below – just tap either space to add the available widgets .

Space is very limited in the area above the clock, as are your options. They are more like snippets of information, like the probability of precipitation for the day indicated by an umbrella and a percentage. Here are the main categories you can choose from:

  • Calendar
  • The clock
  • Aptitude
  • Reminders
  • Shares
  • Time

In the lower shelf, the widgets are a bit bigger and therefore show you a bit more information. They vary in size and you can add up to four. You also have a few more category choices here – besides those mentioned above, you also have Home (for smart home sensor information), News and Batteries.

You can add up to four widgets in the shelf under the clock.

You can add up to four widgets in the shelf under the clock.

Widgets above the clock

Above the clock, there’s room for a small widget for at-a-glance information like the current temperature.

Tap any widget to add it to the lock screen. In the widget selection view, you can adjust the order of widgets by long pressing and dragging them on the screen. Widgets are automatically centered below the time – you cannot position them completely left or right.

Focus mode

Finally, there’s another way to customize your lock screen: by binding it to a focus mode. When a lock screen is associated with a focus mode, it will automatically be activated each time the focus mode is used. It works both ways: changing your focus mode will bring up the associated lock screen, and changing your lock screen to one linked to a focus mode will automatically start that focus mode. Here’s how to link a focus mode to your lock screen:

  • Press and hold any empty space on your lock screen to display the personalization screen.
  • Press the To concentrate icon at the bottom center of the lock screen that you want to associate with a focus mode. You’ll see all of the default focus mode options, plus a Personal mode if you have one enabled.
  • In this view, you just need to tap on the focus mode you want to associate with the lock screen.
Lock screen choice screen

Press the To concentrate icon at the bottom center of the lock screen.

Default focus mode options for the lock screen.

You will see all default focus mode options.

  • If you haven’t configured focus modes yet, scroll to the bottom of the pop-up menu and tap Focus settings to start.

Updated September 16, 2022, 10:20 a.m. ET: This article was originally published on July 12, 2022 and has been updated to reflect changes between the iOS 16 beta and the final release.

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