8 ways to customize the look of the Lock Screen in Windows

The first thing you see when you start your Windows 10 or Windows 8.1 device is the Lock Screen. After Windows boots, it shows you the Lock Screen; when it goes to sleep, it wakes up and displays the Lock Screen; leave your computer unused for a while, and when you come back, it will be waiting for you on the Lock Screen. Since you see this screen a lot, having only a boring stock wallpaper on it is no fun at all. That is why, in this article, we show you eight ways to customize its looks, including how to change the wallpaper of your Lock Screen and how to choose what apps get to display updates on it:

NOTE: This article describes customization options for the Lock Screen in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1. If a specific method works only in Windows 10 or only in Windows 8.1, we signal it accordingly. Windows 8.1 users should skip to the second page of this tutorial, while Windows 10 users should scroll down this page.

1. Use your favorite picture as the Lock Screen wallpaper in Windows 10

The most obvious method to customize the Lock Screen in Windows 10 is to change its default wallpaper with your favorite picture. In Windows 10, open the Settings app. A fast way to do it is to click or tap on the Settings button from the bottom left area of the Start Menu. Next, click or tap the Personalization section.

On the left side of the Personalization window, click or tap on the Lock screen.

Your current Lock Screen wallpaper is shown at the top of the window. By default, the Background should be set to be a Picture. If it is not, but you want to use your favorite picture as the Lock Screen background, make sure to select Picture.

A few stock wallpaper options and your last used wallpaper are shown on small tiles below. Click or tap one of the small tiles to select one, or press Browse to pick an image from your photo collection.

Browse through your image collection to find your favorite picture, and select it by pressing the Choose picture button.

Now, in the Preview section, you should see the new picture you have selected.

From now on, the Lock Screen will use the image you selected as background.

2. Display all your favorite pictures as a slideshow on the Lock Screen in Windows 10

Windows 10 also has a Slideshow option. To enable it, open the Settings app and go to "Personalization -> Lock screen," just like we showed in the first section of this article. Then, click or tap the Background drop-down menu and choose Slideshow.

Click or tap the "+ Add a folder" to choose the folders that contain the pictures that you want to add to the slideshow.

You can use one or more folders as albums for the slideshow, and you can see all of them displayed in the list called "Choose album for your slideshow." If you want to remove one of the folders, click or tap on it and then press the Remove button.

For more customization options, right under the "Choose albums for your slideshow" list, you can click or tap on the "Advanced slideshow settings" link. In the Advanced Slideshow Settings:

  • If you turn On the switch of the first option, the slideshow will use the pictures that are contained in the Camera Roll folders from your PC and OneDrive.
  • If you enable the second option, the slideshow will use only the photos that fit on your screen.
  • The third option lets you choose whether you want your Windows 10 device to "Play a slideshow when using battery power."
  • The fourth option lets you choose whether your PC shows the lock screen or turn off the screen when it is inactive.
  • In the end, there is a drop-down list in which you can select the time after which the screen turns off.

Set these settings properly and enjoy your new Lock Screen design.

3. Make the Lock Screen from Windows 10 display a different image each day, from Windows Spotlight and Bing

In Windows 10, you can also set the Lock screen to display images from Windows Spotlight. To do that, open the Settings app and go to the "Personalization -> Lock screen" section, just like we showed you in the first section of this article. Then, in the Background drop-down list, select the option called Windows spotlight.

If you choose Windows spotlight to animate your Lock Screen, Windows 10 changes your wallpaper periodically, every day.

You might say that it is just like the slideshow feature, but it is not. The difference is that Windows spotlight allows you to decide whether you want to keep the current picture or not. If you choose "I want more," you will receive new similar wallpapers for your Lock screen, and if you select "Not a fan," the picture is changed immediately for a new one.

4. Select which apps display notifications on your Lock Screen in Windows 10

If you want to add apps to show updates on the Windows 10 Lock Screen, open the Settings app and go to "Personalization -> Lock screen," as we showed you in the first section of this article. Then, scroll down below the wallpaper section until you find the two lists that say that you can choose some apps to show their status on the lock screen.

The first list is "Choose an app to show detailed status" and the second is "Choose apps to show quick status." Click or tap the tile in the first row, and select the app for which you want to display a detailed status on your lock screen.

Click or tap a tile on the second line to reveal a list of apps that are capable of leaving notifications on your Lock Screen. Next, select the desired application.

Now, you have to make sure that notifications have the right to appear on your Lock Screen.

Go back to the main Settings window, select System and then choose Notifications & actions. In the Notifications section, you will find the same switch that enables/disables the right of notifications to be displayed on the Lock Screen. Turn it On, so that notifications are allowed on your Lock Screen.

Now lock your device to see how your new Windows 10 Lock Screen looks like.

5. Get tips from Cortana on your Lock Screen, in Windows 10

If you have Windows 10 Anniversary Update or newer, you can also show and use Cortana on your lock screen. If you have an older version of Windows 10, or if you use Windows 8.1, you cannot do this. If you don't know which Windows 10 version you have, read this guide: What version, edition, and type of Windows 10 do I have installed?

In the Settings app, go to the "Personalization -> Lock screen" section, like we showed in the first section of this article. Then, scroll down until you find a link called "Cortana lock screen settings" and click or tap on it.

This takes you to Cortana's settings. On the left side of the window, make sure that you select "Talk to Cortana." Then, on the right side of the window, turn On the switch that says "Use Cortana even when my device is locked."

As you have probably noticed, you can get tips from Cortana on your lock screen only if the lock screen is set to use a Picture or a Slideshow as background. If you have set it to use images from Windows Spotlight, Cortana cannot give you notifications on the Lock Screen.

Also, if you want Cortana to be even more helpful, she needs to be able to access your calendar, email, messages, and other information about you. If you are the only user of your Windows 10 device, it is a good idea to let her do that. Otherwise, it can be a security risk.

We have covered this subject extensively, in this separate guide: How to enable and use Cortana straight from the Windows 10 lock screen.

On the next page of this article, you will find customization options for the Lock Screen in Windows 8.1.