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Windows 8 Feature Focus: Lock Screen

Feature: Lock screen
Availability: Windows 8 (all versions, x86/x64), Windows RT

Note: This article is an updated version of a previous article that has been thoroughly updated for the final, shipping version of Windows 8.

Modeled after the Windows Phone lock screen, the Windows 8 lock screen is a full-screen, Metro-style experience that appears when you boot your PC, lock it (WINKEY + L), or resume from sleep. And as with its smartphone-based counterpart, the Windows 8 lock screen is designed to provide basic glance-and-go information and status notifications for key Metro-style apps and the services behind them.


Here, you can see the elements that make up this interface, including the time and date, a single detailed status (in this case from Calendar), and up to several quick status notification badges for both apps (none shown here) and system settings like network (shown) and power.

To bypass the lock screen, tap any key on the keyboard, click the primary mouse button, or, on a touch screen, swipe the screen up with your finger.

The lock screen is customized in PC Settings, Personalize, Lock screen. Since this is the default view in PC Settings, you won’t have to do much navigating unless you’ve previously used PC Settings for some other purpose.


This interface is used to customize which elements appear on the lock screen. To change the background image, click Browse and use a standard Metro-style file picker to find a picture you prefer.


Note that not all of the items in the file picker are locations on your local hard drive. You can also choose from apps like Camera, which will let you take a live shot with your PC’s camera, or Bing, which provides a nice selection of web-based wallpapers from which to choose.


Lock screen settings also lets you choose up to seven Metro-style apps that will provide simple status updates. For example, if you choose the Mail app as one such item, a Mail badge will appear on the lock screen when you have unread mail, along with a number indicating how many unread mails there are.

What you see in the list of available notification apps will vary according to which apps you’ve installed. Built-in Windows 8 apps like Calendar, Mail, Messaging, and Weather will always be present. But some externally installed apps, like Skype and AT&T Communications Manager, provide this capability as well.


Windows 8 also provides for a single app that can provide more detailed status updates. I typically choose Calendar for this purpose—it’s one of only two built-in apps that can do so, the other being Weather--as it will provide information about the next scheduled event right on the lock screen. But other apps can be useful this way, too, like Skype.

If you’re not a fan of the lock screen—it’s not particularly useful on desktop computers, in my opinion—you can disable it. To find out how, please read Windows 8 Tip: Disable the Lock Screen.

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