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android lock screenBeing able to customize just about anything in whatever way you please is one of the great perks of owning an Android phone. Not only can you replace entire pieces such as your home launcher Three Great 3D Launchers To Revamp Your Android Phone Homescreen Three Great 3D Launchers To Revamp Your Android Phone Homescreen While basic 3D has been easily accomplished on computers for over a decade, it’s still rather novel on smartphones. The hardware inside these devices is just starting to become sufficient for displaying truly impressive graphics.... Read More , but you can also add new lock methods to protect your phone from prying eyes. But what could be better than PINs or lock combinations?

About Photo Lock Screen

With Photo Lock Screen, you can choose any photo you have stored on your SD card, and be able to use it as part of your lock screen. However, it’s different from simply switching the image as you already can with Android by default, but you can then create a combination lock based on that new image. In other words, the main idea is that you can choose items on your images and tap on them as part of your unlock combination.

Still confused? You’ll see what I mean in a bit.


You can install the app by searching for “Photo Lock Screen” in the Play Store or by following this link with your phone’s browser. Once installation completes, you’ll need to open your app drawer and launch “Photo Lock Screen Settings”.


android lock screen

The settings screen will tell you what you need to do, which is primarily disable any lock mechanism which you may currently have enabled, and then by choosing Photo Lock Screen as the default home launcher for your phone (don’t worry, it’s more of a mask that uses your regular home launcher except for when the photo lock screen is supposed to be active).


android lock screen app

There’s a button in the settings called “Set Default Home” that will launch a nice prompt asking you to choose between your home launchers, so it’s pretty easy to do.

Choosing Your Photo

Once you have made all the necessary changes, you can start with the customization of your photo and combination. You can select any photo that can be found via the Gallery, but if it’s possible you should try to crop and resize the image you want to 320 x 480 pixels (or whatever your phone’s resolution is, I haven’t figured out which one is the real determinant of the size).

This is important because Photo Lock Screen offers no mechanism to crop your desired photo on the phone itself, and it will simply use the top left corner of your image.

Setting Your Combination

android lock screen

After you’ve selected the photo you want, you can now choose your combination by tapping on “Configure Lock Screen”. From here, you’ll need to create a combination, which is done by tapping at any points in the picture, as many times as you want. Each tap will become an additional part of the combination.

So for example, say you have a picture with three people in it, you can tap on each person’s face (let’s assume middle, right, and then left) and then save that combination. When you want to unlock your phone, that image will appear and you’re asked to enter in the combination. Once you tap on the middle, right, and then left person’s faces in that order as you did when you set up the combination, the phone will unlock.

Of course, you can choose whatever areas of the image you wish, including a random place in the sky (as long as you remember the exact position of that random place).

The lock screen provided by Photo Lock Screen works just like Android’s locking mechanism in which you are locked out for a certain amount after a number of failed attempts, and after repeated lockouts you’ll be asked to log back into your Google account.


Photo Lock Screen is a pretty interesting app that makes unlocking your phone just that much more fun and safe. Since any image and combination can be used, it is theoretically safer than a simple dots combination or a PIN. Hopefully some more features will be added in the future such as the ability to crop images for use, but even then, why should you not use it as it is?

What’s your preferred way to lock your phone, if at all? How complicated should those mechanisms be? Is displaying the owner’s information on the lock screen risky or helpful? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Lock Image from Shutterstock

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  1. jaun
    August 3, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    hi i jailbreaked my iphone and downloaded an app with lock screen photos my phone is now locked and i have no idea how to unlock my phone please if you can help my

    • Danny Stieben
      August 14, 2012 at 7:03 am

      Sorry, I don't have an iPhone so I can't help you, but you're always welcome to check out the "Answers" section here at MakeUseOf!

  2. Alycia
    May 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    I tried it on my Desire hd and itsnot bad, but wouldn't let me unlock. If I went back to the unlock screen I was able to drag down my messsages icon for example and unlock my phone completely without having to go through this new unlock screen. I aslo did not like that it only cropped the top left part of the picture, I give it a 4/10

    • Danny Stieben
      May 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm

      For the locking, are you sure that you followed the directions on how to set it up?

  3. Dave H
    May 2, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Interesting. I wanted to get this for my DroidX, however I'm not liking all the recent negative comments about perfect placement of your fingers for unlocking. With a screen protector and my current experience with trying to click precise locations with larger than schoolchild sized hands... I want to try it, but I also want to be able to get into my phone. :-)

    • Danny Stieben
      May 14, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      I'm not entirely sure why there are so many complaints about perfect placement. It's been working fine for me at reasonable placement sensitivity.

  4. scott
    May 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Do not install on the galaxy nexus. After setting lock code i tryed it out and it took me forever to get back in my phone due to the lock code not working. Had to drop my notification bar and go in to settings and uninstall the ap. Poor ap

    • Danny Stieben
      May 14, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      I'm sorry that you had issues with it!