Understanding the Lock Screen

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 15, 2016)


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.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


Page Numbers in VBA

When you print a larger worksheet, Excel breaks the printout across several pages. You may want to know, before you ...

Discover More

Printing a Bookmark List with Contents

Bookmarks can be a great tool in Word, allowing you to easily remember the location of desired blocks of text. If you ...

Discover More

Documents Opening in the Wrong Program

Double-click a Word document on your desktop, and you expect Word to spring into action and load the document. What if ...

Discover More
More WindowsTips

Getting Rid of the Lock Screen

The Lock Screen is handy on mobile devices, but may be a bother on your desktop PC. Here's how to turn the Lock Screen ...

Discover More

Changing the Lock Screen's Background Picture

Don't like the picture you first see when you look at your computer? Windows makes it easy to change the Lock Screen ...

Discover More

Changing Lock Screen Apps

The Lock Screen can show you much more than just a pretty picture. Here's how to display just the information you want on ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is two less than 5?

2016-08-15 15:45:23

Ted Duke

Go to "Settings." And/Or, on a computer, click on Windows icon at left side of task bar and type Lock Screen.

2016-08-15 13:25:46

Lanier Dodson

And ... and? This tip seems to stop before it gets to the punchline. Where are those settings?

2016-08-15 09:11:26

Mike Diesel

Hi. You might want to consider updating this page to apply to BOTH Win 8 & 10.

Thank you

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.