How to Supercharge Your iPhone Lock Screen with iOS 16

You don't have to have a new iPhone to take advantage of the new customizable Lock Screen.

iphone home screen
Tucker Bowe

Your iPhone's Lock Screen was previously limited to showing the date and time (as well as a few other status icons like your iPhone's battery life and connectivity), but that's about it. Thanks to iOS 16, however, that's now changed in a pretty big way.

The latest software update has has given you the ability to customize your iPhone's Lock Screen for the first time. You can adjust the layout, add widgets, change the way notifications appear, and even silence notifications on the fly. Basically, you can get more information just be peeping at your iPhone — no need to open it.

This ability to customize your Lock Screen is most beneficial for people with the new iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max — which are the first iPhones that have an always-on display — but anybody with an iPhone that's capable of running iOS 16 (which is an iPhone 8 or newer) can take advantage of it.

Here's how to get started:

How to Create a Customized Lock Screen

iphone home screen
Tucker Bowe
  1. Unlock your iPhone (via Touch ID or Face ID), but don't swipe to your Home Screen.
  2. Long press on your Lock Screen until you enter a gallery mode (looks similar to changing a watch face on your Apple Watch).
  3. Select Customize.
  4. Select Add New.

    Once you've followed those steps (above), you'll enter a new Lock Screen gallery mode where you can choose the template for your new custom Lock Screen. You can choose from a new wallpaper; there are a number of backgrounds, from custom colors and emoji prints, but coolest of all (in my opinion) are new evolving weather and astronomy backgrounds that will change live throughout the day and night based on your location. You can pick from one of your photos (or number of them in a photo shuffle) be the background of your Lock Screen.

    Once you've settled on a background, select and then hit "Add" in the top-right corner of your iPhone.

    How to Add a Widget to your Lock Screen

    iphone home screen
    Tucker Bowe

    Once you've created a custom Lock Screen, you can then edit and add widgets that appear on it. There are a limited number of widgets that you can add at this time, admittedly, and you can only adjust the three rows (or bars) where the date, time and widgets appear.

    At launch, you can add widgets from these apps: Weather, Fitness, Clock, Home, News, Batteries, Reminders and Stocks. You can add different and different-sized widgets from these apps, depending on what information you want to be shown.

    To add/change the widgets on your Lock Screen:

    1. Long press on your Lock Screen.
    2. Select the Customize button at the bottom of the screen.
    3. Select either the top or bottom row (not the middle one where the time is displayed).
    4. Add the widgets you want.

      How to Customize your Clock

      iphone home screen
      Tucker Bowe

      You can change the appearance of your clock, too, although you it's fairly limited (right now) and you can't change where it appears (yet). In fact, the only thing you can really do with the clock is change its font and color.

      1. Long press on your Lock Screen.
      2. Select the Customize button at the bottom of the screen.
      3. Select either the middle row where the time is displayed.
      4. Adjust the font and color.

        How to Customize the Way Notifications Appear

        iphone home screen
        Tucker Bowe

        With iOS 16, one of the big changes you'll experience is the way you see notifications on your Lock Screen. They appear on the bottom of your screen instead of the top. And by default if you have multiple notifications they will appear stacked on top of each other so they don't crowd your Lock Screen. If you want to change the way these notifications appear on your Lock Screen, you can do so from the Settings app.

        1. Open the Settings app.
        2. Scroll down and select Notifications.
        3. Select the graphic that shows how your notifications will appear.

          How to link Focus mode to your Lock Screen

          iphone home screen
          Tucker Bowe

          You can also quickly turn on Focus — which is a mode that allows you to silence notifications and other alerts during a set period of time to help you focus — from the Lock Screen. The catch, however, is that you have to already have set up Focus mode and used it before.

          To set up Focus mode:

          1. Open the Settings app.
          2. Select Focus.
          3. Choose the Focus option you want to use (Do Not Disturb, Personal, Sleep, Work or Custom).

            Once set up, you can turn on Focus mode from your Lock Screen.

            1. Long press on your Lock Screen.
            2. Select Focus at the bottom of the screen.
            3. Pick the type of Focus you want to initiate.
            4. Go back to your Lock Screen.
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