Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 15, 2020)
When you first start Windows or when you first wake your system from sleep mode, Windows presents you with what is known as the Lock Screen. There is nothing much to do on this screen, as it is designed to show you a pretty picture and some status information.
Don't confuse the Lock Screen with the login screen; they are not the same. When Windows 8 was rolled out, one of the supposed selling points of the new operating system is that it provided a consistent user experience regardless of the type of device you were using. In other words, it worked essentially the same whether you were using a smart phone or a desktop PC.
This is where the Lock Screen comes into play—it is similar to the screen you see when you first poke a button on your smart phone. It shows you the date, the time, and provides a couple of small icons you can further poke. But it doesn't let you log in; that comes later.
In addition to the status information already described, Windows also allows you to specify some apps that can provide status information on the Lock Screen. Note that the apps can't be run from the Lock Screen, but you can see any status messages generated by those apps. If you want to run the apps, you'll need to move past the Lock Screen, log in, and use the apps from a fully signed-in condition.
Interestingly enough, there are actually two "levels" of apps whose status can be displayed on the Lock Screen. The first level is to provide basic status updates; these are typically apps such as mail, calendar, or weather. You can configure Windows to allow up to seven apps to provide such basic updates. The other level provides more detailed updates, and you can specify only a single app to give this level of notice. The detailed information provided at this level depends on the actual app that you assign.
On a smart phone the Lock Screen provides a nice at-a-glance screen to see time and date. On a PC such a nicety may be superfluous. Therefore, Microsoft has provided ways that you can customize the Lock Screen or, if you prefer, get rid of it entirely.
This tip (12704) applies to Windows 8 and 10.
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