How to Customize Lock Screen in Windows 10

Customization has always been the hallmark of the Windows operating system. Windows 10 carries this legacy forward by allowing you to customize the Lock Screen, colors, background and windows themselves.

Nothing quite like the yesteryear of Windows XP, but there is a fair bit of personalization on offer in the latest version of Windows 10 that allow you to design the experience to your liking.

In this guide, we’ll be walking you through the steps necessary to customize the Lock Screen on your device and get the most of it in terms of form and functionality. We’ll also take a look at if it’s possible to bring some animation to your Lock Screen, as well as elements like widgets.

Let’s dive in.

A look at the Lock Screen

The Lock Screen is what you always see before signing into your account in Windows 10. It not only allows you to login into your system, but also provides a range of useful functionalities even before you access the desktop.

Not only will you see the current date and time on your Lock Screen, you’ll also find your calendar events and notifications from other apps. It’s possible to interact with Cortana here, and you can also showcase your favorite images and personal photos, even wallpapers from Bing on the Lock Screen.

default windows 10 lock screen

We’ll also take a look at the additional bells and whistles available that you can use to further customize the Lock Screen, including whether it is possible to have animated Lock Screen backgrounds, widgets, as well as a closer look at the very popular Windows Spotlight service.

How to customize the Background in the Lock Screen

Windows 10 lets you customize the look of the Lock Screen a number of ways. These range from using the Windows Spotlight service that beams in new images regularly to your device, or using a single picture for the background. You can also showcase a collection of your photos, as images from one or multiple folders can be put to good use here.

Using Windows Spotlight

Windows Spotlight is a neat little feature that Microsoft has integrated into the modern Windows OS. This is a service that automatically connects to Bing to download new background images. Basically, this keeps your experience fresh every time you sign into Windows 10.

You can enable Windows Spotlight using the following steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Go to Personalization.
  3. Click or tap on Lock screen.
    windows spotlight
  4. In the Background dropdown menu, select the Windows Spotlight option to let Lock Screen use fresh new images from the service.

Completing the above steps will now have the Lock Screen use a new image every time you sign into your account. These are often some stunning photos taken from around the world, though Microsoft often curates some seasonal and promotional images into the mix, too.

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Using a Single Image

Have a particular wallpaper or image that you want to use on the Lock Screen? Well, you’re in the right place. The operating system lets you set a single photo, which comes in really handy if you want an undistracted experience or want your company logo up here.

Follow these steps to customize the Lock Screen to display a single image:

  1. Fire up Settings.
  2. Go to Personalization.
  3. Now, click on Lock screen.
    set single image as lockscreen
  4. Select the Picture option in the Background dropdown menu.
  5. Click the Browse button below the thumbnails to locate the image you want to use, and then select it to set it as the new background.
    show tips and facts on lockscreen

While you’re here, you might also want to turn off the Get fun facts, tips, and more from Windows and Cortana on your lock screen toggle switch for a cleaner experience.

Using an Image collection

Alternatively, if you have your own wallpaper collection, or a set of photos that you want displayed on the Lock Screen, you also have that option. Windows 10 lets you showcase a collection of images from one or multiple folders.

This is how you can display an image collection as a slideshow on the Lock Screen:

  1. Open the Settings
  2. Click on Personalization.
  3. Click on Lock screen.
    background slideshow
  4. Use the Background dropdown menu to select the Slideshow
  5. Select the Pictures
  6. Click Remove.
  7. Now, click on the Add a folder This option lets you add one or more folders that contain your chosen images.
    select folder
  8. Browse to the location of the folder with images that you want to showcase as a slideshow on the Lock Screen, and then select the folder.
  9. Click the Choose this folder

This will set up a slideshow with the images you want up there.

If you want to further customize the experience, the handily placed Advanced slideshow settings option lets you do that. Click on it, and then enable or disable the options you want to use while Windows 10 shows your collection of photos on the Lock Screen.

advanced slideshow settings

The options provided are:

  • Include Camera Roll folders from this PC and OneDrive: Toggling this switch will have the Lock Screen also display images stored in two other locations, in addition to the folders you already selected. These being, Camera Roll and OneDrive Camera Roll folders, which usually include the photos that you take from your phone and other devices.
  • Only use pictures that fit my screen: This one is pretty straightforward. Turning this switch on will only display images that fit the screen when displayed. Handy option to have, if you have multiple sizes of images in the folder, and only want to display big ones that fit your screen.
  • When my PC is inactive, show lock screen instead of turning off the screen: Remember those fancy screensavers from the old days? This option is similar to those. You can set up a screensaver on Windows 10, which will be displayed instead of the screen being turned off. You can also use the dropdown below to specify when you want to turn off the screen, after a period of time.

Again, it’s a good idea to turn off the Get fun facts, tips, and more from Windows and Cortana on your lock screen toggle switch to keep the experience nice and clean.

How to disable the Lock Screen background in the sign-in screen

All this dynamic stuff not your cup of tea? You can also opt for a simpler sign-in screen by disabling the Lock Screen background there. In other words, the sign-in screen will no longer include the same image as the one that is used on the Lock Screen.

Here is how you can disable it:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Personalization.
  3. Go to Lock screen.
    lock screen background
  4. Turn off the Show lock screen background picture on the sign-in screen toggle switch.

Completing these steps, the sign-in screen will no longer have the same image as the one you have set on the Lock Screen. Instead, a solid color background will be shown from the current scheme that you have configured in the Personalization settings.

  Windows 10 Tutorial: Disable The Lock Screen

How to customize the Lock Screen app notifications

The Windows 10 Lock Screen is also capable of showing notifications from certain apps like Mail, Calendar, Messaging, Xbox and Weather. This feature lets you set detailed notifications for a single app, or show quick notifications for multiple.

Setting app detailed status

If you want to display notifications with detailed information from a particular application, you will find the option listed above. Once set up, the information will appear at the bottom-left corner of the Lock Screen.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Personalization.
  3. Click or tap on Lock screen.
    detailed status on lock screen
  4. Under the Choose an app to show detailed status section, click the Plus (+) button to select the app you want to see the information for. Using the None option disables this feature.

Setting app quick status

You can also set up a whole bunch of apps to show the number of unseen updates at once. This will display icons with badges that will let you know at a glance the number of unseen updates that are available for each application that you have configured to appear in the Lock Screen.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Go to Personalization.
  3. Click on Lock screen.
    quick status on lock screen
  4. Under the Choose an app to show quick status section, click the Plus (+) button to add the app that you want to add to the experience. Using the None option removes it.
  5. Repeat the above step to configure quick notifications for additional applications.

How to allow Cortana above the Lock Screen

Cortana, the bundled digital assistant in Windows 10, is at your service on the Lock Screen. That is, if you want her to. All you need is your device to be equipped with a microphone, and you can use Cortana from here to query basic questions.

Here is how you can allow Cortana on the Lock Screen:

  1. Open the Settings
  2. Go to Personalization.
  3. Click on Lock screen.
  4. Click the Cortana lock screen settings  option.
    Cortana over Lock screen
  5. Now, simply turn on the Use Cortana even when my device is locked toggle switch under the Lock Screen
  6. Optionally, you can also check the Let Cortana access my calendar, email, messages, and Power BI data when my device is locked This will give her access to these apps and services, allowing the digital assistant to be more productive.

After completing these steps above, you can interact with the assistant directly in the Lock Screen. Just say the command “Hey Cortana” and follow it by your question like “How’s the weather?”

How to set screen timeout in the Lock Screen

Have a habit of always locking their devices when they step out, either manually (by pressing the Windows + L key combination), or using Dynamic Lock? It is possible to set the time before the screen turns off automatically.

This is what you need to do:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Personalization.
  3. Click Lock screen.
    sceen timeout settings
  4. Click or tap on the Screen timeout settings
    power and sleep
  5. You will be taken to the Power & sleep panel, where you can use the Screen dropdown menu to specify when your display should turn off when your device is plugged in. If you are changing these settings on a laptop, you will also see the option to adjust the screen settings when your computer is running on battery.

Once done, the screen will automatically turn off after the device is not active for the time you specified.

More customization options for the Lock Screen

Although Microsoft provides a handful of these above mentioned options for the Lock Screen, the thing about Windows is its enhanced customization potential, whether via personalization, hacks or even third-party software.

Let’s take a look at what additional options you have available for further customization.

Change Windows 10 login screen background

Bored of the generic looking background on the Windows 10 login screen? Technically, there are two sign-in screens in Windows 10, one for your password and another that serves as the lock screen. You can obviously also have the OS show your lock screen background on the sign-in screen.

This option is available as a toggle in the Settings.

  1. Fire up Settings.
  2. Go to Personalization.
  3. And then Lock screen on the left.
    login screen background
  4. Toggle the switch at the bottom that says Show lock screen background picture on the sign-in screen to on here, and you will now have Windows display your same, chosen image on both the screens, allowing for a smoother transition.

Download Windows 10 Stock Wallpapers

Microsoft has a good thing going with the default wallpapers that it has released for Windows 10 over the years. They may not be as fancy and distinct as the ones that it made available for the previous versions of the OS, but they do add a nice, simple touch to proceedings.

The stock wallpaper even comes in a few additional variations — one for Windows 10 S and another for the new Light theme in the operating system.

You can download these images from the little gallery of the stock Windows 10 wallpapers that we have put together here.

Using an app to change Lock Screen Images

If you are the type that likes to change your background pictures often, then you are sure to enjoy this option of using an app to change your wallpapers. It certainly beats constantly accessing the Settings app every time you want to go with a new photo or image.

wallpaper Studio 10

There are a number of applications available on the Microsoft Store that let you change background wallpapers. But the most popular one, by far, is Wallpaper Studio 10.

This free app lets you browse and download different wallpapers with resolutions up to 8K. These can then be used as both your desktop or Lock Screen wallpapers. Wallpaper Studio 10 can also set up slideshows of your favorite wallpapers that you download, and it also offers integration with Bing, allowing you to those images as your desktop background.

Wallpaper Studio 10 uses a freemium model, and a paid license for $1.50 lets you get rid of ads. Totally worth it, if you’re into personalization and customization of your Windows 10 system.

Add widgets to Lock Screen

Widgets used to be the real deal! They still are. Android and Windows both have their share of widgets, even though Microsoft has clearly moved away from them in favor of live tiles. But third-party developers have picked up the baton for these elements of interaction.

While the heydays of widgets on the operating system were during the time of Windows Vista and Windows 7, customization tools like Rainmeter still make use of these fancy elements.

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Luckily, a nice little app is now available for Windows 10 users that lets you personalize you Windows Lock Screen by showing widgets right there. You get widgets for the latest news, weather updates, sports scores, stock market quotes, currency exchange rates, daily horoscopes, favorite quotes, custom content, as well as notes.

lockscreenify

Just download Lockscreenify, pick any of the provided templates, and configure your data. All your information will automatically be updated on your Lock Screen.

This is another freemium application offering in-app purchases. But the free version works perfectly fine for the most part. And its unique feature set makes it your best bet if you want to add widgets to your Lock Screen, and have them update you with the latest info.

Well worth a download if you like your Windows 10 customized and personalized.

Animated Lock Screen

Before we close up, a bit of talk about whether it is possible to have an animated Lock Screen? As things stand right now, this is not possible on Windows 10. While there are several third-party software programs to make your wallpaper animated, true animation is not on right now.

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Microsoft is preparing to bring animation to the Lock Screen in the near future, as part of the upcoming Windows Core OS and CShell. So far, it has only been shown on the Surface Hub 2. Still, there is a chance that the software titan will bring it to the operating system proper in due time.

Perhaps we will even get something like Animated LockScreen Preview, a popular app from the days gone that brought animation to the Windows Phone 8.1 Lock Screen. It came with a small selection of styles and a range of delightful effects.

For this to happen, some developer or a company will need to step up the game, if Microsoft doesn’t.

Windows Spotlight

By now, you must be familiar with Windows Spotlight, a feature built into Windows 10 that displays a randomly generated image every time you log into your system. When it comes to customization of the new operating system, this is a bit of a marquee feature, widely used, too.

Think of this as a curated, personalized slideshow of images that Microsoft beams to your Windows 10 device. The company downloads pictures and advertisements automatically from the Bing search engine, about once a week, and displays them on your Lock Screen.

They are saved here:

C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewy\LocalState\Assets

If you want to save Windows Spotlight wallpapers, navigate to the above folder, replacing it with your user name. Then copy the images to another location and rename them as .JPG extension.

windows spotlight assets

As for the type of images that are downloaded, most of them are of famous historical locations, or natural landmarks from around the globe. More often than not, Microsoft overlays and displays information about where the pictures are taken, as well as information about creatures and locations.

You are also given an opportunity to mark whether you want to see more or fewer images of a certain type, which is a good way to personalize these backgrounds. Though sometimes, they are overlaid with links to advertisements for Microsoft products and services — particularly during special occasions.

Nothing too intrusive, though.

Conclusion

Customizing the Windows 10 Lock Screen is necessary if you want to personalize Windows 10 exactly to your liking. More so, for users that like to lock away their PCs and devices when they are away, whether in office or at home.

Microsoft has done a decent enough job providing users a range of different options to that end.

But third-party developers have also stepped up a bit in creating their own customization solutions. The logical next step would be bringing some level of animation to the Lock Screen, and seeing whether any new features that would bring about.

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