How to Customize Your iPhone or iPad Lock Screen

Fully customize the lockscreen to your liking!

Ios 15 16 Lock Screen

In iOS/iPadOS 15, users were limited to only a handful of customization options for the Lock Screen on the iPhone and iPad. While changing the wallpaper could add a personal touch, the overall date and time layout has maintained the same stale aesthetic since iOS 7 debuted back in 2013.

Coming later this year iOS 16 offers a complete overhaul of the Lock Screen experience featuring all-new widgets, font styles, and a Lock Screen gallery to help users easily switch between Lock Screen setups they have already configured. This article demonstrates how you can start using your Lock Screen’s customization options in iOS 15, and also offers a sneak peek at iOS 16.

Running Beta Software

Apple Developers and iOS/iPadOS enthusiasts who would like to test drive the new Lock Screen ahead of its launch in the Fall can access beta versions of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 via the Apple Developer portal. Do note, however, that it is not recommended that you install beta software on your personal devices.

Customizing the Lock Screen in iOS 15

To personalize the Lock Screen in iOS 15, users can set a new wallpaper using pictures from their photo library, choose from built-in dynamic wallpapers that change based on the time of day, and experiment with depth effects to add a subtle sense of vitality. On select iPhone models, optional Live wallpapers will animate upon resting one finger on the Lock Screen.

1. Changing Your Wallpaper

  1. To change your wallpaper in iOS/iPadOS 15 first navigate to the Settings app.
Ios 15 Settings 2
  1. Scroll down and select “Wallpaper”.
  1. Tap “Choose a New Wallpaper” directly above the wallpaper preview.
Ios 15 Choose Wallpaper 3
  1. Choose an image from your photo library or select from the built-in “Still”, “Dynamic”, and “Live wallpaper” options.
Ios 15 Wallpaper Favorites
  1. Drag with one finger to pan and adjust the image.
Ios 15 Panning
  1. Pinch to zoom in or out on your background image.
Ios 15 Pinch 2
  1. When you are happy with a photo’s orientation select the “Set” button in the bottom right-hand corner of the display to change your wallpaper.
Ios 15 Set 2
  1. Select from three onscreen buttons to set the wallpaper that you just customized as your Lock Screen background, Home Screen background, or both your Home sand Lock Screen background.
Ios 15 Wallpaper Set 2
  1. To preview your new Lock Screen configuration you will need to lock and then wake your iPhone by pressing the side button twice. Be sure to wait for the screen on your iPhone before pressing the side button again as double-clicking the side button too quickly will activate Apple Pay.
Ios 15 Side Button

2. Configuring Perspective Zoom

Images from your photo library, built-in Stills, and Dynamic wallpapers support a feature called “Perspective Zoom”. The setting simulates a responsive parallax effect on the Lock Screen that makes onscreen elements appear as if they are floating above your wallpaper.

  1. To enable Perspective Zoom tap on the circular icon between the “Cancel” and “Set” buttons at the bottom of the screen.
Ios 15 Perspective

Note: Sometimes Perspective Zoom will draw your subject out of frame by zooming in too much.

  1. To disable Perspective Zoom tap the same circular icon once more.

3. Switching Between Light/Dark Wallpapers

As you reach step #4 of the “Changing Your Wallpaper” section of this post, users can opt to use one of several built-in light/dark wallpapers. These wallpapers will automatically darken their appearance when Dark Mode is enabled. When Dark Mode is set to “automatic” these wallpapers will automatically display their Dark Mode variant at sunset.

  1. On step 4 in the “Changing Your Wallpaper” section select the “Stills” or “Live” category.
Ios 15 Live Still
  1. Tap on one of the wallpapers marked with the light/dark globe icon highlighted below.
Ios 15 Stills
  1. Select the “Set” button in the bottom right-hand corner of the display to use the selected image as your wallpaper.
Ios 15 Set Button
  1. Choose from the three onscreen buttons to set the wallpaper as your Lock Screen background, Home Screen background, or both your Home and Lock Screen background.
Ios 15 Wallpaper Set 1
  1. To preview the light and dark versions of your wallpaper navigate to “Control Center” by sliding down with one finger from the upper right-hand corner of the display.
Ios Control Center
  1. Then tap the light/dark globe icon in “Control Center” to toggle Dark Mode on/off. Watch as your wallpaper shifts its brightness and contrast.
Ios 15 Dark Mode

4. Wallpaper Dimming

If you are using a still image from your photo library as your wallpaper you can have your iPhone or iPad dim its appearance while Dark mode is enabled.

  1. Open the Settings app.
Ios 15 Settings 2
  1. Scroll down and select “Wallpaper”
Ios 15 Wallpaper 2
  1. Beneath the wallpaper preview select “Dark Appearance Dims Wallpaper”
Ios 15 Wallpaper Dim 1

5. Using Live Wallpapers

  1. At Step 4 of the “Changing Your Wallpaper” section select the “Live” category.
Ios 15 Live
  1. Select the “Set” button in the bottom right-hand corner of the display to use the selected image as your wallpaper.
Ios 15 Set Button
  1. Make your selection from the three onscreen buttons your proffered option.
Ios 15 Wallpaper Set 1
  1. After waking your iPhone, tap and hold on the Lock Screen with one finger to watch your wallpaper animate.
Ios 15 Animate Live Wallpaper

Customize the Lock Screen in iOS 16

In iOS 16, users no longer need to access the Settings app to customize their Lock Screen. The new Lock Screen editor features a much more intuitive and customizable interface enabling a much more straightforward way to personalize your device.

1. Activating the Lock Screen Editor

  1. While on the Lock Screen, tap and hold on the display with one finger to open the new Lock Screen editor.
  2. Select the “Customize” button beneath the shrunken preview of your Lock Screen.
Ios 16 Custom Lock

2. Browsing Lock Screen Collections

  1. To browse featured Lock Screen layouts and suggested wallpapers in the Lock Screen editor, swipe to the left until you see an empty Lock Screen preview with a blue plus sign icon inside it.
Ios 16 Wallpaper Select
  1. Tap the blue plus sign icon to choose from a selection of system-generated wallpapers and preset backgrounds.
Ios 16 Lock Screen Add New
  1. Scroll from left to right to view collections or scroll down to view more previews.
Ios 16 Lock Screen Collections
  1. Tap on a preview and select “Done” to set your current selection as your new background.
Ios 16 Done

3. Adding Widgets

  1. To add widgets to your Lock Screen select the empty rounded rectangle in the Lock Screen editor. This will reveal a grid of available widgets.
Ios 16 Widget 1
  1. Tap on a widget to add it below the time.
Ios 16 Widget Select
  1. Press and hold widgets to rearrange the order in which they appear.
Ios 16 Widget Move
  1. Hit the grey “x” in the upper right-hand corner of the popup window to save the widgets that you added.
Ios 16 Widget
  1. When you are satisfied with the Lock Screen that you configured tap the “Done” button in the upper right-hand corner of the display.
Ios 16 Done Button

4. Add Lock Screen Photo Effects

To add photo effects in the Lock Screen editor swipe left with one finger to instantly thumb through the available filters including Black & White, Duotone, and Color Wash.

Ios 16 Photo Filters

5. Change Date/Time Font and Color

  1. After activating the Lock Screen editor, tap on the Time module outlined with a grey rounded rectangle to adjust Date/Time styling.
Ios 16 Time
  1. Then select from one of the six available fonts to customize your Lock Screen.
Ios 16 Date Time Change 1
  1. Tapping on the blue globe icon in the upper left-hand corner of the “Font & Color” window will reveal options to toggle between Arabic Indic and Devanagari numerals for displaying the time on your device.
Ios 16 Globe
  1. Scroll from left to right to browse Lock Screen color palettes or select the circular rainbow icon on the far right to choose from a wider range of colors.
Ios 16 Color Select
  1. Users can additionally select the eyedropper tool in the upper left-hand corner of the color window to choose a color from within their wallpaper image.
Ios 16 Eyedropper
  1. Tap on the grey “x” in the upper right-hand corner of the “Font & Color” popup window to save the styling options that you added.
Ios 16 Colors X Button
  1. When you are finished editing your Lock Screen tap “Done” in the upper right corner of the screen to save your changes.
Ios 16 Done Button Flower

6. Enable and Adjust Depth Effect

iOS 16 features a unique depth of field option for the Lock Screen that allows people, pets, and nature subjects to take a front row seat by positioning them in front of onscreen elements including the time and widgets.

  1. To have iOS 16 intelligently mask your subject and place it above the time for you simply launch the Lock Screen editor by tapping and holding on your Lock Screen with one finger.
Ios 16 Depth
  1. Then use two fingers to zoom and pan around your image while moving subjects closer to the time. iOS 16 will automatically outline your subject and bring it into the foreground.
Ios 16 Pinch To Pan 1

7. Configure Lock Screen to Correspond with Focus Mode Settings

  1. Tap and hold on your Lock Screen with one finger to enter the Lock Screen editor.
Ios 16 Focus Mode Activate Editor
  1. Then select the “Focus” button near the bottom of the screen.
Ios 16 Focus Button Lock Screen
  1. Select a Focus mode that you would like to enable every time you switch to the selected Lock Screen layout.
Ios 16 Focus Mode Select
  1. Tap on the grey “x” in the upper right-hand corner of the “Link Focus” window. This will have the effect to save the Focus configuration that you selected.
Ios 16 X Button Lock Screen

8. Deleting a Saved Lock Screen

  1. Swipe up on the Lock Screen that you would like to delete.
Ios 16 Swipe Delete Screen
  1. Then tap on the newly revealed trash can icon outlined in red.
Ios 16 Lock Screen Trash Icon
  1. Select the “Delete” button underneath the dialog on the next screen. This will confirm that you would like to delete the Lock Screen.
Ios 16 Lock Screen Delete Button

Frequently Asked Questions

How come I don't see the option to add a Live wallpaper on my lock screen?

Live Photo wallpapers are only supported on the iPhone 6S and later excluding the iPhone XR and the iPhone SE (1st and 2nd generation).

Why does the Perspective Zoom option not appear for me?

The Perspective Zoom effect for Lock Screen wallpapers requires Low Power Mode and Reduce Motion to be disabled. Be sure that both features are turned off in the Settings app.

Do these steps work the same between the iPhone and iPad?

For iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 the listed steps used to customize your iOS Lock Screen wallpaper are exactly the same on both the iPhone and the iPad. iPadOS 16 does not feature any of the expanded Lock Screen personalization options that are featured in iOS 16.

Image credit: Apple All screenshots taken by Brahm Shank

Brahm Shank
Brahm Shank

Self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur and tech enthusiast Brahm Shank is captivated by the impact of consumer tech: “It’s profoundly moving when people discover that the phone in their pocket or the tiny computer on their wrist has the power to enrich their lives in ways they never imagined.” Apple, Inc. and its unique position at the intersection of technology and the creative arts, resonates deeply with Brahm and his passion for helping people unleash their potential using technology. Over the years, Brahm has held various podcasts - including famed technologist David Pogue of The New York Times on topics such as Big Tech and digital wellness.

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