Back in mid-2016, we introduced you to five cool things you can do with the Windows 10 lock screen. We covered everything from voting on spotlight images to using your favorite subreddit as a wallpaper feed.
However, as Microsoft has continued to update the operating system, the number of ways you can tweak the screen have grown. There are now enough new features that it’s time to revisit the topic.
So what are the best ways to customize the Windows 10 lock screen in 2017? Keep reading to find out.
1. Bypass the Lock Screen
In our previous edition of this article, we explained how you could use a registry tweak to turn off the lock screen entirely. Sadly, when Microsoft released the Anniversary update a few months after the article was published, we found the registry hack no longer worked.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some workarounds. There are always workarounds!
If you’re running the Enterprise or Education version of Windows, the simplest solution is to head to the Group Policy Editor, follow Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel > Personalization, and double-click on Do not display the lock screen.
If you’re using Windows Home or Pro, the process is more convoluted. You need to navigate to C:\Windows\SystemApps and scroll down until you find a folder called Microsoft.LockApp_cw5n1h2txyewy.
Once you’ve located the folder, rename it. I suggest merely adding a suffix (such as .old or .backup) because it’ll make it easier to undo your changes at a later date.
After you’ve made the changes, you’ll only see the lock screen when you boot your machine for the first time. If you lock the screen during the day, or put your system into sleep or hibernation mode, Windows will skip it.
2. Cortana on the Lock Screen
Cortana is becoming a bigger part of the Windows operating system with every update. The list of commands you can issue is growing, and the number of apps it integrates with is expanding.
As part of the service’s march into every corner of our lives, you can now make it available on the Windows lock screen. It doesn’t sound a big deal at first, but it brings a lot of benefits. If you’re so inclined, it means you can now yell commands at your computer from the other side of the room, safe in the knowledge they’ll be recorded and acted upon.
In the Windows 10 Creators Update, Cortana’s lock screen functionality should be enabled by default. You can check by going to Cortana > Settings > Lock screen > Use Cortana even when my device is locked and making sure the toggle is in the On position.
Once you’ve enabled Cortana, you should also tick the box next to Let Cortana access my calendar, email, messages, and other content data when my device is locked. Failure to change this setting will result in significantly decreased functionality.
3. Change the Lock Screen Timeout
If you spend the time to set-up and customize your lock screen, it can be incredibly useful. It offers a snapshot of your life at a glance; you don’t need to open any apps or log into any services. And even if you don’t use it for productivity purposes, it can be a pleasant background screen if you’re running a slideshow.
Therefore, it’s somewhat surprising that Microsoft has programmed it to automatically turn itself off after a minute. Presumably, it’s a “battery saving” feature, but it’s disappointing there’s no easy way to change the timer.
But don’t worry, it is possible to make the lock screen hang around for longer. I’m going to show you how to use the registry to hack the timeout setting.
To begin, fire up the Registry Editor by opening the Start Menu, typing regedit, and hitting Enter.
Next, navigate to HKEYLOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Power\PowerSettings\7516b95f-f776-4464-8c53-06167f40cc99\8EC4B3A5-6868-48c2-BE75-4F3044BE88A7 and double click on Attributes.
In the Edit DWORD window, change the Value data box from 1 to 2 and click OK. This tweak will enable a new setting in your machine’s advanced power settings menu.
Now go to Start > Settings > System > Power and sleep > Related settings > Additional power settings > Change plan settings > Change advanced power settings > Display > Console lock display off timeout and set the number of minutes to your preferred figure. Click OK when you’re ready.
4. Disable Lock Screen Ads
Disabling ads across your entire system is one of the first things you should do after upgrading to the Windows 10 Creators Update. To specifically get rid of ads on your lock screen, there are three settings you need to change.
The most obvious one is the most well-known one. Go to Settings > Personalization > Lock Screen and make sure the drop-down menu below Background is set to either Picture or Slideshow. If you leave it as Windows Spotlight, you might see some ads pop amidst the selection of (albeit impressive) images from around the world.
The second setting is less obvious. You need to head back to Settings > Personalization > Lock Screen, but this time scroll further down the page and flick the toggle under Get fun facts, tips, and more from Windows and Cortana on your lock screen to the Off position.
Lastly, fire up the Cortana app and go to Settings > Taskbar titbits and turn off Let Cortana pipe up from time to time with thoughts, greetings, and notifications. The setting sounds innocent, but some users report ads have been injected into the bonhomie and well-wishes.
5. Hide Your Email Address
I’ll conclude the list with a security point. Since Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft lets you hide your email address from the lock screen and sign-in screen.
This is a setting everyone should change. You already know your own email address, having it displayed on a lock screen brings no benefits to you as a user. If you’re using your laptop in a public location, you could be opening yourself up to potential security issues.
To hide your email address, go to Start > Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options > Privacy and turn off Show account details (e.g. email address) on sign-in screen.
How Do You Customize Your Lock Screen?
If you take these five tips and add them to the five tips we showed you in 2016, you’ll be able to create a highly-customized lock screen in no time.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the lock screen. Do you rely on it to keep you abreast of your notifications and communications? How do you make it work for you?
You can leave all your tips and anecdotes in the comments section below.