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How to Customize the Lock Screen on Windows 8

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Windows 8’s lock screen is very at home on a tablet, but it can also be used on laptops and desktops.  The lock screen is not just a background image – it contains widgets that display quick notifications.

These widgets, known as lock screen apps, allow you to view information – such as new emails, weather, calendar appointments, instant messages or social updates – without even unlocking your PC.

Note: Windows 8.1 works roughly the same way. The screenshots will look slightly different, but it’s nearly the same thing.

Disable the Lock Screen

If you do not like the lock screen, you do not have to use it.  Unfortunately, Microsoft has buried the “disable lock screen” option. Luckily, disabling it is simple:

Once you’ve made this change, Windows will always display the password prompt, saving you a key-press during the login process.

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Select a Lock Screen Background

Lock screen settings are located in the PC setting application on Windows 8.  To access it, open the Settings charm (press Windows Key + I to quickly open the Settings charm from anywhere in Windows) and select Change PC settings.

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Select the Personalize category and select Lock screen.  Click (or tap) one of the provided background images or use the Browse button and select any image from your computer, Bing, SkyDrive, or even your camera.

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If you want more features, try using the Chameleon app located in the Windows Store.  It can watch “photo of the day”-type services and automatically change your lock screen background on a schedule, a feature not included with Windows 8.

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Configure Lock Screen Apps

Lock screen widgets – known as “lock screen apps” in Windows 8 – allow you to view information at a glance.  Apps added to the lock screen are allowed to run in the background when your PC is locked so they can fetch new, updated information and display it on the lock screen.

You can configure the list of lock screen apps from the Lock screen apps section below the lock screen background chooser.  Click (or tap) an icon and select the app you want in that location.  You can get more widgets by installing more Windows Store apps – apps can choose to include lock screen integration.  If you do not want any lock screen apps – or just want a few – you can select the Don’t show quick status here option.

windows-8-select-lock-screen-apps

You can also choose an app to show a more detailed status.  For example, when you choose to display a detailed weather status, you will see the weather displayed in text on your lock screen.

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That’s it for customizing the lock screen – it’s all about background images and lock screen apps.  However, with custom backgrounds and apps, each person’s lock screen could look different.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 01/26/13

Comments (10)

  1. Rizzoli

    OK – advice please. Should I switch to Windows 8? The articles I’m reading seem to be 50% tips on Win8 and 50% how to roll features back to Win7 (no criticism of this article intended). I use a PC and two full-size monitors but no touchscreens and use a PC ~12 hours a day (writing – not graphics heavy). Is it worth the move to Windows 8? TIA.

  2. Robin

    Is there a way to change the loginscreen background from a color to a picture?

  3. Ciprian

    @Rizzoli – if you are OK with learning some new features and tools, it is OK to migrate to Windows 8. You will love its speed and lightness, as well as the new features like File History, Family Safety, Windows Defender, etc.

  4. James

    @Rizzoli Although there are a number of improvements and good features in Windows 8, I found the numerous omissions and dumbed-down features, not to mention the clumsy interface with a normal desktop machine which needs some relearning of working methods I’d used for years, greatly outweighed any advantage. I stuck with it for a fortnight (and spent much time getting back something of the versatility and productivity I’d had before by the use of various add-ons and tweaks) before giving up and gratefully returning to Windows 7. I detest the unintuitive space-wasting ribbon interface in apps, and I had to use Office 2007 with Win 8 (and the explorer had it too…) because my 2003 version, which I use just to avoid the ribbon, wouldn’t work properly anymore! I personally see no reason to downgrade to Windows 8 from a good Windows 7 installation (or even XP, which is still a fast, lean O/S that does everything needed). I suspect you will have many problems if you do. Three of my friends have regretted the day they made the change.. they still haven’t got some things working properly.

  5. tecn0tarded

    Rizzoli, i have dual monitors and had windows8. don’t waste your money. there’s no normal end user notabilities in windows8 except learning a new operating system. a tecno-geek will tell you how great and wonderful it is, but for normal everyday users its horrible. stay with windows7, trust me on this. i’ve had a full copy of windows8 and an up-grade to windows8 pro on craigslist for about a month now. no one wants it, even for $10. don’t believe the speed theory’s,you won’t notice any. never mind the absence of a start menu button, that’s the least of problems with windows8. look over all these windows8 tutorials on here. you have to go through so much to achieve so little. if you want to try something new, install a second hard drive. run and learn linux, don’t dual boot, that’s idiotic. you can boot through your start up menu. but if you want windows8, be prepared to waste a lot of time doing simple tasks.

  6. Zakariah

    @Rizzoli Buy it and if you learn all the new ways to get around, you will love it’s speed on the new computers. Although do NOT upgrade. Back your stuff and do custom install. If you have problems the obvious answer is go to windows.com and get Windows help or go to other sites and get the help you need.

  7. Zakariah

    @Rizzoli If you only type get a Surface or some Windows RT product because it comes with Office 2013 RT Preview that you upgrade to full version when released through Windows Update. If you write documents this for you but isn’t recommended because you download and install programs for Windows Store only and you can’t download from Internet. That is why I recommend Windows 8.

  8. Toastiejoe

    Windows 8 is a nice, ordinary update to Windows, and unquestionably worth doing IF you are prepared to persist with learning your way past the awkwardness MSFT has introduced. First off, download and learn the keyboard shortcuts – they’re the best way to get through the annoying extra steps needed to do simple things like search. If you can, buy a new W8 keyboard – the latest ones have a bunch of specialty keys that help.

    One thing I really like is the much better handling of multiple monitors, and Office 2013 knows about that and takes advantage – for example when using a laptop connected to projector, PPT knows and offers you more options as to what’s on each screen – really helpful. If that was there on earlier releases, I missed it. Now it’s clear and easy.

    My main machine has two non-touch monitors, and an old but lovable IBM keyboard that I’ve had to map some new keyboard short cuts to. With that done it’s fine on W8. My secondary laptop is also pre-touch, but the one I love is a Lenovo W8 touchscreen ultrabook, and on that touch and W8 come into their own. I NEVER use the Metro interface and apps.

  9. Rizzoli

    Many thanks to you all! Still thinking, but no doubt will give it a whirl on one machine soon. Appreciate all your input.

  10. Cambo

    @Rizzoli

    I upgraded my laptop a while back. I can say that it is improved. The Start menu, however, takes some getting used to. I gave it a shot for about a month but found myself longing for the Start menu again.

    I’ve tried several 3rd Party Start menu’s such as Classic Shell, Start8, and StartIsBack. My favourite by far is StartIsBack. Most of them add almost no overhead to your PC and can boot directly to your desktop.

    Aside from the Start menu change, Win8 is fantastic. Very quick and much more intuitive. The added advantage from these alternate Start menu’s is that you don’t need to see the Modern apps at all. They can be easily hidden. Completely up to you.

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