How to Customize Your Android Lock Screen

Choose how to unlock your Android mobile device

Smartphone next to metal key

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Your smartphone's lock screen is something you use countless times each day, and if set up correctly, it's a way to keep nosy friends, family, and colleagues—not to mention would-be hackers—from snooping into your private information. With most Android smartphones, you can choose to unlock by swiping, tracing a pattern over dots, or by inputting a PIN code or password. You can also opt not to have a screen lock at all, though that puts you at risk.

The directions below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

Choose an Unlock Method and Lock Screen Options

Android smartphones have several unlock options. To set or change your lock screen:

  1. Go to Settings.

  2. Tap Security & Location > Screen lock.

  3. You'll have to confirm your current PIN, password, or pattern if you have one. Then, you can select swipe, pattern, PIN, or password.

    Android Security & location settings.
  4. Next, back in the Security & Location settings tap Lock screen preferences.

  5. Tap On lock screen and choose one of the three options:

    • Show all notification content,
    • Hide sensitive content
    • Don't show notifications at all.
    Android Security & location settings.

    Hiding sensitive content means that you'll see that you have a new message, for example, but not who it's from or any of the text, until you unlock.

  6. Go to Lock screen preferences > Lock screen message to add text to the lock screen, such as contact information if you lose your phone behind and a good Samaritan finds it. 

    Android Security & location settings.
  7. If your smartphone has a fingerprint reader, you can use it to unlock the device. Depending on the device, you may have the ability to add more than one fingerprint so that trusted individuals can also open your phone.

Lock Your Phone With Google Find My Device

Enabling the Google Find My Device (formerly Android Device Manager) is a smart move. If your phone is lost or stolen, you can track it, ring it, lock it, or even erase it.

  1. Go to Settings.

  2. Tap Security & location > Find My Device and toggle it on.

  3. You can download the Google Find My Device app to find, ring, lock, or erase other Android devices.

    Android Security & location settings.

    Keep in mind, if you want to be able to find it, you'll have to have location services turned out while the phone is still in your hands.

  4. To lock your phone or tablet remotely open a web browser on your desktop and visit google.com/android or search for Google Find My Device.

  5. Click Secure Device.

    Google Find My Device website.
  6. Optionally, you can also add a message and a button to call a specified phone number.

    Google Find My Device website.
  7. If you lock the phone remotely, and you don't already have a PIN, password, or pattern set up, you'll have to use a password that you set up from Find My Device.

Using a third-party lock screen

If the built-in options aren't enough for you, there are many third-party apps to choose from, such as Solo Locker. Apps like these offer alternate ways of locking and unlocking your phone, viewing notifications, and the ability to customize background images and themes.

Solo Locker lets you use your photos as a passcode, and you can also design a lock screen interface. If you choose to download a lock screen app, you'll have to disable the Android lock screen in your device's security settings.

Remember, if you decide to uninstall one of these apps, be sure to re-enable your Android lock screen.