How to Customize Your iPhone

Make your phone truly personal

What to Know

  • Change the wallpaper: Go to Settings > Wallpaper > Choose a New Wallpaper.
  • Change security settings: Go to Settings > Face ID (or Touch ID& Passcode. You can change passcodes, add fingerprints, and more.
  • Change the ringtone: Go to Settings > Sound > Ringtone or Text Tone to change text sound. Change notifications: Settings > Notifications.

Customize your iPhone to match your personal style, tastes, and preferences. While not every part of the iPhone can be customized, this guide shows you how to customize your iPhone's home or lock screen, how to organize apps and folders, how to change ring and text tones, how to adjust your notifications, and more.

Customize iPhone Home Screen

You may look at your iPhone home screen more than any other single screen, so it should be set up exactly the way you want it. Here are some options for customizing your iPhone home screen.

  1. Change Your Wallpaper. You can make the image behind your apps on the home screen pretty much anything you want. A favorite photo of your kids or spouse or the logo of your favorite team are just some options.

    Find the wallpaper settings by going to Settings -> Wallpaper -> Choose a New Wallpaper.

  2. Use Live or Video Wallpaper. Want something really eye-catching? Use animated wallpapers instead. There are some limitations, but this is pretty cool.

    Go to Settings -> Wallpaper -> Choose a New Wallpaper -> pick Dynamic or Live.

  3. Put Apps Into Folders. Organize your homescreen based on how you use apps by grouping them into folders. Start by lightly tapping and holding on one app until all of your apps start to shake. Then drag and drop one app onto another to put those two apps into a folder.

    Curious about just how many folders and apps you can have on your iPhone? You'll be surprised! Find out in How Many Apps and Folders Can an iPhone Have?

  4. Add Extra Pages of Apps. All of your apps don't need to be on a single homescreen. You can make separate "pages" for different types of apps or different uses by tapping and holding apps or folders, then dragging them off the right edge of the screen. Check out the "Creating Pages on iPhone" section of How to Manage Apps on the iPhone Home Screen for more.

Customize iPhone Lock Screen

iPhone Notification Center widgets
iPhone image: Apple; screenshot 

Just like you can customize your home screen, you can customize the iPhone lock screen, too. This way, you have control over the first thing you see every time you pick up your phone.

  1. Customize Lock Screen Wallpaper. Just like on the home screen, you can change your iPhone lock screen wallpaper to use a photo, animation, or video. Check out the link in the last section for details.

  2. Create a Stronger Passcode. The longer your passcode, the harder it is to break into your iPhone (you are using a passcode, right?). The default passcode is 4 or 6 characters (depending on your iOS version), but you can make it longer and stronger.

    Go to Settings -> Face ID (or Touch ID) & Passcode -> Change Passcode and following the instructions.

  3. Get Suggestions from Siri. Siri can learn your habits, preferences, interests, and location and then use that information to suggest content to you. Control what Siri suggests by going to Settings -> Siri & Search -> Siri Suggestions and setting the items you want to use to on/green.

Customize iPhone Ringtones & Text Tones

how to set individual ringtones on iphone
image credit: Mark Mawson/Taxi/Getty Images

The ringtones and text tones your iPhone uses to get your attention don't have to be the same as everyone else's. You can make all kinds of changes, including changing tones so you know who's calling or texting without even looking at your phone.

  1. Change the Default Ringtone. Your iPhone comes pre-loaded with dozens of ringtones. Change the default ringtone for all calls to the one you like the best to get notified when you've got a call coming in.

    Do that by going to Settings -> Sounds (Sounds & Haptics on some models) -> Ringtone.

  2. Set Individual Ringtones. You can assign a different ringtone for everyone in your contacts list. That way, a love song can play when your spouse calls and you'll know it's them before even looking.

    Do this by going to Phone -> Contacts -> tapping the person whose ringtone you want to change -> Edit -> Ringtone.

  3. Get Full-Screen Photos for Incoming Calls. The incoming call screen doesn't have to be boring. With this tip, you can see a fullscreen photo of the person calling you.

    Go to Phone -> Contacts -> tap the person -> Edit -> Add Photo.

  4. Customize Text Tones. Just like you can customize the ringtones that play for phone calls, you can customize the sounds like play when you get text messages. Go to Settings -> Sounds (Sounds & Haptics on some models) -> Text Tone.

You're not limited to the ring and text tones that come with the iPhone. You can buy ringtones from Apple and there are apps that help you create your own tones.

Customize iPhone Notifications

enable iphone led flash
image credit Atsushi Yamada/Taxi Japan/Getty Images

Your iPhone helpfully notifies you know when you have calls, texts, emails, and other pieces of information that might interest you. But all those notifications can be annoying. Customize how you get notifications with these tips.

  1. Choose Your Notification Style. The iPhone lets you choose a number of notification styles, from simple pop-ups to a combination of sound and text, and more.

    Find the notification options in Settings -> Notifications -> tap the app you want to control -> choose Alerts, Banner Style, Sounds, and more.

  2. Group Notifications from the Same App. Get a lot of notifications from a single app, but don't need to see each one taking up space on your screen? You can group notifications into a "stack" that takes up the same space as one notification.

    Control this on a per-app basis by going to Settings -> Notifications -> the app you want to control -> Notification Grouping.

  3. Flash a Light for Alerts. If you don't want a sound to play when you get a notification, you can make the camera flash light up instead. It's a subtle, but noticeable, option for many situations.

    Set this up in Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Hearing -> move the LED Flash for Alerts slider to on/green.

  4. Get Notification Previews with Face ID. If your iPhone has Face ID, you can use it to keep your notifications private. This setting just shows a basic headline in notifications, but when you look at the screen and get recognized by Face ID, the notification expands to show more content.

    Set this up in Settings -> Notifications -> Show Previews -> When Unlocked.

    That link also has a cool tip about using Face ID to quiet alarms and notification sounds in "Reduce Alarm Volume and Keep Screen Bright with Attention Awareness."

  5. Get More Info with Notification Center Widgets. Notification Center not only collects all of your notifications, it also offers up widgets, mini-versions of apps to let you do things without opening apps at all. Learn all about customizing it in How to Get & Use Notification Center Widgets.

iPhone Customizations That Make Things Easier to See

An array of iOS 13 screenshots on iPhones
Apple Inc.

It's not always easy to read text or see onscreen items on your iPhone, but these customizations make things much easier to see.

  1. Use Display Zoom. Do all of the onscreen icons and text look a bit too small for your eyes? Display Zoom magnifies your iPhone screen automatically.

    To use this option, go to Settings -> Display & Brightness -> View -> Zoomed -> Set.

    Most iPhone model support Display Zoom, but the iPhone XS does not (though the XS Max does).

  2. Adjust Font Size. The default font size on your iPhone may be a bit small for your eyes, but you can increase it to make reading more comfortable.

    Go to Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Larger Text -> move the Larger Accessibility Size slider to on/green -> adjust the slider below.

  3. Use Dark Mode. If the bright colors of the iPhone screen strain your eyes, you may prefer to use Dark Mode, which inverts bright colors to darker ones. Find the basic Dark Mode settings in Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Display Accommodations -> Invert Colors.

Other iPhone Customization Options

control center in iOS 12
iPhone image: Apple

Here's a collection of some of our other favorite ways to customize our iPhones.

  1. Delete Pre-Installed Apps. Got a bunch of apps pre-installed on your iPhone that you don't use? You can delete them (well, most of them, anyway)! Just use the standard way to delete apps: Tap and hold until they shake, then tap the x on the app icon.

    While you can delete pre-installed apps, you still can't pick your default apps. Learn more in Changing Default Apps on the iPhone.

  2. Customize Control Center. Control Center has many more options than are obvious at first. Customize Control Center to get just the set of tools you want to use.

    Go to Settings -> Control Center -> Customize Controls.

  3. Install Your Favorite Keyboard. The iPhone comes with a pretty good onscreen keyboard, but you can install third-party keyboards that add cool features, like Google search, emojis and GIFs, and much more.

    Get a new keyboard at the App Store, then go to Settings -> General -> Keyboard -> Keyboards.

  4. Make Siri a Man. Prefer to have Siri speak to you using a man's voice? It can happen.

    Go to Settings -> Siri & Search -> Siri Voice -> Male. You can also pick different accents, if you'd like.

  5. Change Safari's Default Search Engine. Have a search engine other than Google that you prefer to use? Make it the default for all searches in Safari.

    Go to Settings -> Safari -> Search Engine and making a new selection.

  6. Make Your Own Shortcuts. If you've got an iPhone X or newer, you can create all kinds of cool customized gestures and shortcuts for various tasks. Learn all about it in How to Create and Use iPhone X Shortcuts.

  7. Jailbreak Your Phone. To get the most control over customizing your phone, you can jailbreak it. This removes Apple's controls over certain kinds of customization. Jailbreaking can cause technical problems and reduce your phone's security, but it does give more control. Learn all about it in Jailbreaking an iPhone Explained.

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