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It might not look like much, but your Windows Phone lock screen can provide all manner of interesting and important information to you – and it can do this natively, without third party apps.

Lock screen settings are already included with Windows Phone 8 Windows Phone 8: The Complete Review Windows Phone 8: The Complete Review Question: how do you improve on perfection? Answer: you wait for someone else to have a go. A quick look around the smartphone market reveals that Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems are top... Read More , offering alerts for missed calls, new messages, calendar information and more.

Several apps you can install offer even more functionality, such as automatic lock screen background changers and messages – ideal for telling someone where to return a lost phone How to Return a Lost Phone in Four Easy Steps How to Return a Lost Phone in Four Easy Steps Every year, millions drop their mobile into the unknown. In the US, about 50% of lost devices are returned to their owners. The rest get resold or reused – while thievery may seem eco-friendly and... Read More !

Native Lock Screen Settings

By default, the Windows Phone 8 lock screen will display the time – and that’s about it.

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In order to get more information on your lock screen, you will need to open Settings > Lock screen. Here you will find a selection of powerful options to customize what is displayed on your phone’s lock screen.

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Begin with the Background, which can be set to cycle through images from various places, such as the Photo tool, social apps and even third party lock screen apps (see below).

If you’re a music lover and want to see what tracks are currently playing, you can toggle the Show artist when playing music option to ensure that this happens.

The real power comes in the notifications section, however. Here you can choose from up to five apps for your lock screen, such as native features like the calendar, email inboxes and phone calls. Any apps that are designed to display lock screen information can also be added.

To add a lock screen status, tap the + button and select the appropriate app from the resulting menu. Note that you can also Choose an app to show detailed status – something like the calendar is particularly useful here.

With your options set, exit the Lock screen settings and lock your phone. When you view the lock screen from now on, it will display the information as configured.

Not Enough Functionality? Try Lock Screen Apps!

Of course, there is bound to be something you’re not seeing.

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For instance, Windows Phone 8 doesn’t come with a built-in weather app (although curiously big brother Windows 8 does), so you might need to find a third party service to handle this, like those listed in our Best of Windows Phone index).

Additionally, you might like your lock screen to be a bit more functional in its offerings, perhaps providing space for you to leave contact details for forwarding a lost phone. Combining a lock screen app with the lock screen settings in Windows Phone 8 can deliver a striking and productive lock screen as seen above.

The following three free lock screen apps should prove useful…

Lock Screen Master

If you’re looking for control over your lock screen background, the Lock Screen Master app offers the ability to select albums from your Photo hub Taking Photos & Managing Images With Windows Phone 8 Taking Photos & Managing Images With Windows Phone 8 Read More , as well as access to online image albums.

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Better still, the app provides a setting for you to configure the delay between each lock screen background it cycles through.

All you need to do is make sure your selected photo album contains the images you want to see on your lock screen and the app will do the rest!

Lock Widgets

Here is an option which combines lock screen background image management with some additional widgets: Lock Widgets is a great addition as it delivers information about current and future weather to your phone.

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Current Weather and Tomorrow’s Forecast can be displayed, while the Battery Meter is among the most accurate available on the platform.

Background images can be selected from Bing, NASA or your Photos hub, and the app requires your location in order to display the weather information.

Lost Phone Screen

You can also make use of your Windows Phone lock screen by putting some of its redundant space to work.

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There are several apps offering this service, but Lost Phone Screen is the preference (and certainly has one of the best icons of any app anywhere!), offering a choice of static lock screen wallpaper and four lines with which to share your contact information and perhaps offer a reward if your lost phone is found 7 Reasons To Return A Lost Phone 7 Reasons To Return A Lost Phone If you happen to find an expensive smartphone on the street, youll probably wonder what to do with it. In short: return it! Read More . (We wouldn’t recommend relying only on this if your phone goes missing. Microsoft offers a good “Find My Phone” service via SkyDrive.)

You can also toggle whether or not the app leaves space for your phone to display the currently playing track.

Conclusion – Make Your Lock Screen Work For You!

While Windows Phone is by no means the only platform that offers lock screen summary information, it certainly offers a good selection of options, both with native settings and with third party apps.

Those featured here have been singled out as the best free options, but there are others. In fact, if you use any of the other app choices, why not tell us what they are? Also feel free to share your thoughts on lock screen apps and settings in general, particularly if you have a favoured configuration.

Image Credits: PlaceIt

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