The Absolute Beginner’s Guide To The iOS Lock Screen


Here at AddictiveTips, our single, greatest objective is to help our readers make better use of their gadgets – whether it is a Mac, an Android tablet, or a Windows Phone device – through the use of better software. Now, while most of our articles are targeted towards the above-average technologically-literate person, we are going to do things differently in our ‘Absolute Beginner’s Introduction’ series of articles. We are starting with iOS because that is what I personally have a strong grip over, but there are plans to expand to other platforms based on user feedback. Let’s get started!


What Is The Lock Screen, And Why Do Smartphones Even Have It?

That’s a mighty good question. Why don’t we just go straight to our list of apps after unlocking the phone? There’s an equally good reason for that.

The first and foremost is security. Our smartphones are home to sensitive personal information including but not limited to our personal and work emails, social network profiles, scanned documents, personal diary, and more. If modern smartphones did not have a passcode-protected lock screen, all of this information would be readily available to anyone who picks up our phone! Lock screens, then, are what you see when your phone is locked away.

The second – in case of when you don’t have passcode-protection on – is glanceable information. On our phones, we usually have at least 3-4 dozen apps installed, with a few examples being Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, several email accounts, to-do list applications, WhatsApp/Viber, etc. From time to time, you may get notifications from these apps – a new message on Facebook, a retweet on Twitter, a new task from your to-do list. Without a lock screen and a notification center (we’ll get to that in a minute), you would have to individually launch each application to see what’s new. With lock screens, the latest and most important notifications are there right on your lock screen so you can see what’s up without having to unlock your phone.

How The iOS 7 Lock Screen Works

iOS-7-Lock-Screen iOS-7-Lock-screen-music-controls

iOS 7’s lock screen has 5 sections, as shown in the screenshot above. At the top rests your status bar that contains the following icons by default (from left to right): mobile signal strength (5 filled circles being optimal), mobile carrier name, WiFi signal strength, and battery charge. There may be more or less icons in your status bar, and that’s nothing to worry about. You can also swipe-down from the status bar to open up the Notification Center, which we will discuss in a separate, dedicated post later on.

Below the status bar, you will find the current time, and date. Self-explanatory.

The third section is pretty much the most important part of the lock screen. As time goes by, this area will be filled by notifications from apps. Remember what we said about lock screens being used for ‘glanceable information’? Well, besides quickly checking the time, this is where you get to have a quick look at your new notifications in order to decide whether to ignore them, or to deal with them immediately.

Each notification can be swiped rightwards to go directly to the precise page within the respective app that calls for your attention. Got a new email from your boss? Swipe its notification rightwards from the lock screen to launch Mail with that email open! Neat, isn’t it?

The last section at the very bottom is a ‘grabber’ at the center; swiping it upwards will open up the Control Center (will be discussed soon separately), and a small Camera icon in the corner. Swiping-up on the Camera icon will directly launch the Camera app – great for capturing fleeting moments!

But wait, did I just miss the fourth section? Why yes, I did! Discussing ‘> slide to unlock’ last allows me to perfectly segue from this heading to the next which is…

How To Turn On Passcode To Protect Your iOS Device From Prying Eyes

Without a passcode, sliding your finger over ‘> slide to unlock’ does just that: fully unlocking your device for normal use. It is convenient, agreed, but it is hardly secure, as anyone could unlock your device to gain access to all sorts of personal data. We strongly recommend you enable passcode protection to keep your data safe not just from prying eyes within your home and office, but also from thieves in case your device gets stolen.

Now how do you do that, exactly? Follow these steps:

iPhone-Settings Settings-General-iOS Settings-Passcode-Lock-iOS

  1. Press the Home button (that one big button below your device’s screen).
  2. Swipe-right on ‘> Slide to unlock’.
  3. Look around for a grey icon called ‘Settings’, and tap it.
  4. Scroll down a bit till you see a sub-menu called ‘General’. Tap it like it’s hot.
  5. Scroll down again until you see the ‘Passcode Lock’ sub-menu. It will say ‘Off’ by default, and tapping it will turn it back on.

You are now within Settings > General > Passcode Lock. Here, you will see an option at the top to ‘Turn Passcode On’. On tapping it, you will be asked to enter your new passcode.

The question that might come to your mind at this point would be, “What’s a good passcode?”

Security enthusiasts will tell you to use a long, mixed-case, space-padded, complex ‘alphanumeric’ passcode, but I’m here to tell you that it’s just fine to have a four-digit passcode.

iPhone iPad iPod touch-Passcode-Lock-settings iPhone-Set-Lock-Screen-Passcode

I usually come up with a seemingly random but still memorable four-letter word such as ‘Jobs’ or ‘Code’, and replace it with its number equivalent (you know how 111-BIG-MAC is actually 111-244-622? Like that!) such as 5627 and 2633, respectively.

The next time you unlock your phone, you will have to enter your new passcode to get access to all your apps and documents. After entering it 3-4 times, you’ll have no problem unlocking your phone quickly; passcode protection won’t seem like such a burden.

ios 7 lockscreen enabled passcode entry

Pro-tip: Go back to Settings > General > Passcode Lock, tap on ‘Require Immediately’, and change it to 5 minutes. This makes it so that your device remains unlocked for five minutes since it was last used. If you regularly check your phone like me, you will find this setting highly convenient.

How To Remove Passcode Protection

What if you want to remove passcode protection on your iOS device? Maybe it is too cumbersome for you, or maybe you are jailbreaking your iOS device (warning: jailbreaking may be too advanced a task for non-techie absolute beginners), or maybe you are simply restoring your device.

In all three cases, the method is the same. Following the five numbered steps under in the previous heading, go to Settings > General > Passcode Lock, and tap ‘Turn Passcode Off’. iOS will throw a few warnings your way, but you may ignore them if you are dead-set on removing the passcode protection. You will be asked to enter your currently-set passcode twice before it is removed.

turn off ios 7 passcode

What Do I Do In Case I Forget My Passcode?

It happens to the best of us. We change our passcode one too many times in the name of security, but end up completely forgetting the latest one. This has happened once with me a few months ago when I became absolutely paranoid about protecting my data from everyone. Needless to say, it was a bad idea.

As a matter of fact, it was a terrible idea. The only way to get out of this sticky situatio, and to make your device usable again is to restore it. In layman’s terms, that means completely reinstalling all software/apps on your device after deleting all personal data.

Assuming you have tried and failed with every single passcode combination you think you could’ve set, you should go ahead and follow these steps:

1. Launch iTunes on your computer with which you have previously connected your device. This will not work otherwise.

2. Connect your iOS device to your computer via USB cable.

3. On Windows: Launch ‘File Explorer’, click on ‘Computer’ from the left column, and then double-click on your device (mine is “Awais’ iPhone”) to get access to all your photos and videos. Save these, at least, before deleting all other unrecoverable local data! Mac users can similarly use Finder for the purpose.


4. In iTunes, you will see a small button near the top-right corner saying iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, depending on which device you’re connecting. Click it.

5. iTunes will give you an overview of your iOS device’s state. Click ‘Restore’, and follow the on-screen instructions.


Hopefully, you were able to restore your iOS device back to a working state! Take this as a lesson to never set a passcode you can’t remember later.

Did you enjoy this beginner’s guide to the iOS 7 lock screen? Our motivation to work on more guides for other parts of iOS, and other platforms such as Android and Windows depends on your feedback. Remember to share this with your friends and family who need help understanding how iOS works!

  • Chaz

    You completely missed the main purpose of the lock screen, which is to prevent unintentional “pocket dials” (notice that phones without touch screens usually don’t have lock screens).

    And what about BlackBerry? If you’re worried about security, then there is nothing better (and in most cases BB10 beats the socks off other mobile platforms anyway).