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How To Customize Your iPhone Running iOS 16

iOS 16 makes the iPhone more customizable than ever before. This is the definitive guide to making the iPhone a more personal device.
Software personalization and customization can be difficult, especially if it is hidden away in menus that most users will never interact with. Apple, on the other hand, has taken a different approach by making user customization a centerpiece feature of iOS 16.

Because of multiple interlocking features, nearly every interaction on the iPhone can be customized or controlled in some way. Lock Screen customization, widgets, custom app icons, and Focus Modes are among them.

Focus Modes are used throughout the text to organize customized Home Screens, Lock Screens, and other screens. Users are technically in a “default” Focus with its settings when no Focus is active, so everything mentioned for an active Focus still applies.

How to Change the Lock Screen on an iPhone

The Lock Screen is the best place to begin customizing an iOS 16 iPhone. Apple allows users to change the wallpaper, clock font, widget placement, and Home Screen wallpaper from this screen.

Users can set up multiple Lock Screens and assign them to different Focus Modes. At least one Lock Screen must remain unattached to a Focus Mode for it to become the default Lock Screen.

This tutorial will concentrate on creating a single custom Lock Screen.

Begin by making a new Lock Screen.

  1. Long press on the Lock Screen after unlocking the iPhone.
  2. Swipe to the right until you see a blank screen with “Add New” at the top.
  3. To open the wallpaper selection tool, tap the “+” button in the center of the screen.
  4. Choosing a Wallpaper

The wallpaper selection tool provides choices ranging from a user’s photo library to dynamic wallpapers generated by weather conditions. Take your time scrolling through the recommended options, tapping on one to preview it, and then hitting “cancel” to return to the selection screen.

Among the wallpaper categories are:

  • Photos – use search terms and filters to search the entire photo library.
  • People – surface photos from the People album containing labeled faces.
  • Photo Shuffle – create a wallpaper that randomly shuffles a collection of personal photos throughout the day based on people, pets, nature, cities, or a manual selection.
  • Emoji – choose up to six emojis to create a wallpaper from one of five patterns.
  • Weather-based on the current weather conditions at the user’s location, a wallpaper is generated. These conditions can include sunshine, clouds, rain, snow, fog, and others.
  • Astronomy – a collection of animated wallpapers depicting the Earth, Moon, or Solar System about current conditions such as time of day, moon phase, and planetary position. For the Earth and Moon options, a special unlock animation will play.
  • Color – create a simple wallpaper with a gradient or a solid color.
  • Suggested Photos – a collection of photos chosen by Apple’s algorithm as wallpaper worthy. A good place to start looking for images with depth effects.
  • Apple’s Collections are a collection of dynamic wallpapers. These make use of layered elements that animate when the phone is unlocked or use the depth effect.

The wallpaper depth effect employs algorithms to determine whether or not parts of a photograph should overlap the clock. This effect applies to any photo, even if it is not a portrait photo with depth data. Adding a widget disables this effect.

By selecting “Use as Wallpaper” in the Photos app Share Sheet, users can bypass the wallpaper editing screen for the Lock Screen entirely.

Users can swipe between filters on photo wallpapers or select different views in some of Apple’s dynamic wallpapers after selecting a wallpaper. Pinch to pan and zoom a photo into a better location, especially if the depth effect is on.

Using the ellipses menu in the bottom right corner, disable the depth effect or perspective shift. By clicking the photos icon in the bottom left corner, you can add a new photo while keeping the current widget selection active.

Choosing an appropriate clock font and color

Now that you’ve chosen a wallpaper, you can change the clock font and text color scheme.

Widget fonts are unaffected by text font selection. However, the color you choose affects all widgets and text.

  1. Tap the timer.
  2. Choose one of eight font styles for the clock text.
  3. Choose from a variety of color options and gradients, or scroll to the right for a color picker.
  4. To complete the selection, tap the “x” in the upper right corner of the menu.
  5. The first color in the color picker is a gradient inspired by the wallpaper. Because this can sometimes provide too little contrast with the background, the second option is to use a different gradient with more opacity and contrast. The remaining colors include a color intensity slider.

Inserting Lock Screen Widgets

Below the clock, there are four square widget slots and a text widget above. These five spots can display data from installed apps on the iPhone, including third-party apps.

To add a widget to the Lock Screen, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the square labeled “Add Widgets.”
  2. Choose one of the suggested widgets, or scroll down to find widgets for each installed app. Apps that provide multiple widget options or styles can be swiped through.
  3. To see a widget appear in the widgets block, tap on it in the selection menu.
  4. To move a widget in the block, press and hold it.
  5. When a widget is configurable, you can select what data is displayed within it by tapping on it.
  6. To complete the selection, tap the “x” in the upper right corner of the menu.
  7. Some widgets can be customized with various data. The Home app, for example, includes a widget for displaying current home conditions. When customizing the widget view, users can select from a list of sensors by tapping on that widget.

Similarly, the text widget above the clock can be configured. The date is displayed by default and cannot be removed from the Lock Screen. Tap it to choose another option.

Widgets are not required on all Lock Screens. Some wallpapers produce an interesting depth effect by overlapping some elements with the clock. When widgets are added, however, this effect is disabled.

Creating a personalized Lock Screen

It’s time to save the new Lock Screen after you’ve chosen a wallpaper, customized the clock, and added widgets.

  1. In the top right corner of the screen, tap “Done.”
  2. A pop-up will appear, displaying how the wallpaper will appear on the Lock Screen. If the presented effect is desired, select “Set as Wallpaper Pair,” which completes the Lock Screen.
  3. Alternatively, select “Customize Home Screen” to change the wallpaper on your Home Screen.
  4. The Lock Screen wallpaper is used by default for the Home Screen. Users can change the blur effect or choose a different photo or color wallpaper.
  5. To complete the Home Screen wallpaper, tap “Done.” If desired, this can be changed later without affecting the Lock Screen.
  6. After creating the custom Lock Screen, the user will be returned to the Lock Screen selection menu. Swipe left and right to see all of the Lock Screens that have been created. Swipe up to reveal the option to delete a personalized Lock Screen.

To make a Lock Screen the active screen, tap on it. A Lock Screen is independent of Focus modes by default, as indicated by a “Focus” icon at the bottom of the wallpaper selection.

Tap the “Focus” button to associate the Lock Screen with Focus Mode. More information on creating a customized Focus Mode and the results will be provided later in this guide.

How to customize the iPhone Home Screen

Until iOS 14 introduced widgets and an App Library, the iPhone Home Screen was simply a grid of installed apps. Users can now do much more than just reorganize icons into folders.

App icons, app folders, widgets, and pages make up the Home Screen. An iPhone can have up to six rows of four apps each, as well as a dock. Fill out a page, and a new page for up to 15 pages is created.

This tutorial will concentrate on making a single custom Home Screen page. Before that, we’ll go over how to start cleaning by removing old apps and Home Screen pages.

Remove apps, widgets, or entire Home Screen pages

Getting rid of unnecessary junk is part of managing the Home Screen. To prevent new apps from being installed automatically on the Home Screen, go to the Settings app, select “Home Screen,” and then tap “App Library Only.”

Remove all home screen pages and send all apps to the app library at once

The steps below are required for anyone who hasn’t customized their iPhone since iOS 14. Users who download a large number of apps will most likely have several pages of unorganized app icons, and this method is the quickest way to get rid of them.

To remove unwanted Home Screen pages, follow these steps:

  1. Hold down an app icon or a blank space on the Home Screen.
  2. When you press an app, a menu for managing that app appears. Continue to press to enter “wiggle mode” and edit the Home Screen.
  3. At the bottom of the screen, tap the Home Screen tab indicator. It appears to be a series of dots.
  4. A list of available Home Screens will be displayed. A check mark indicates that the current Focus mode is set to Home Screen.
  5. Tap a checkmark to make that Home Screen unavailable for the current Focus. That Home Screen remains available for use with other Focus Modes and is not deleted.
  6. When a checkmark is removed, a “-” appears in the top left corner of the page. To delete the entire page and its contents, tap the “-” button.
  7. The App Library receives all apps from a deleted page.

When you’re finished with the remaining Home Screens, it’s time to clean up anything that wasn’t deleted or disabled.

Send unwanted applications to the app library

The App Library is a searchable repository of all the apps that have been installed on the iPhone. Sending apps here does not delete them from the device; rather, it moves the app icons out of the way and organizes them for later use.

It is no longer necessary to keep each installed app on the Home Screen.

To delete or uninstall apps:

  1. Hold down an app icon or a blank space on the Home Screen.
  2. When you press an app, a menu for managing that app appears. Continue to press to enter “wiggle mode” and edit the Home Screen.
  3. To remove an object from the Home Screen, tap the “-” symbol at the top left of the object.
  4. A pop-up will appear asking if you want to delete or move this app to the App Library. To keep the app installed, select “Remove from Home Screen.”
  5. Repeat the process for any other apps that need to be removed.
  6. These steps also apply to removing Safari bookmarklets or Shortcut bookmarks. Tapping on the “-” prompts the user to delete the bookmark completely, which must be recreated later.

Remove widgets from the home screen of your iPhone

Apple includes example widgets with the most recent operating system installation, so you may need to remove some unwanted widgets right away. Widgets and widget stacks can be managed in the same way.

To delete a widget:

  1. Hold your finger down on a widget or a blank space on the Home Screen.
  2. When you press a widget, a menu with options for managing that widget will appear. Continue to press to enter “wiggle mode” and edit the Home Screen.
  3. Widgets can be stacked or stand alone on the Home Screen. Tap the “-” symbol to remove a single widget or an entire stack. To manage individual widgets within a stack, tap on it.
  4. Now that the unnecessary junk has been removed, you can begin customizing the Home Screen.

Choose a wallpaper for your Home Screen

The active Home Screen page and Lock Screen wallpaper cannot be used to select the Home Screen wallpaper. The wallpaper will be the same for every active page in Focus Mode, but it can be switched between Focuses based on the user’s preferences.

Skip this section if you’ve already customized your iPhone Home Screen wallpaper based on the previous Lock Screen customization. If you want to change your wallpaper without changing the Lock Screen, follow these steps.

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Scroll to the bottom and click “Wallpaper.”
  3. The Lock Screen wallpaper is on the left, and the Home Screen wallpaper is on the right. To change the Home Screen wallpaper, go to the right and tap “Customize.”
  4. Use the same wallpaper as the Lock Screen, a solid color, a gradient, or a new photo from the options at the bottom.
  5. Turn on or off the blur option for photo backgrounds.
  6. To finish editing, click “Done” in the upper right corner.
  7. Use this option to create a wallpaper that matches the Home Screen page you’ve chosen. Widgets and app icons can be designed to complement a wallpaper, but users are not limited to a single wallpaper option.

Wallpapers chose for a specific occasion The current Focus Mode is used to save the Lock Screen and Home Screen.

Add apps and custom icons to the Home Screen

Now that the Home Screen has a nice wallpaper and no unnecessary apps or widgets, it’s time to start adding apps and Shortcut bookmarks.

Adding an app to the home screen

Apps from the App Library can be added. The developer has complete control over these app icons. Some third-party apps have alternative icons that allow users to customize their apps without using Shortcuts. There are no alternate icons for Apple apps.

To add an app to the Home Screen, follow these steps:

  1. When on the Home Screen, swipe to the right until you reach the App Library.
  2. Find an app to add to your Home Screen. Hold down the app icon until a menu appears.
  3. Choose “Add to Home Screen.” If there is no space on the current page, the app will be added to an empty slot, or a new page will be created.
  4. To reposition the app, press and hold the app icon and begin dragging. Existing app icons and widgets will be relocated.
  5. To exit wiggle mode, let go of the app at the desired location and tap “Done” in the top right corner.
  6. Across the operating system, app icons are fixed. Because an app can be added to multiple Home Screen pages that are used across multiple Focuses, changing the app icon changes the app icon everywhere.

Users can use custom bookmarks created in Shortcuts instead of a single icon because a single icon may not work on every custom wallpaper in every Focus. This feature is also beneficial for Apple apps that lack alternate icon options.

Add personalized app icons to the home screen

It is the user’s responsibility to find custom icons for apps. From Gumroad to Reddit, there are numerous websites where you can find new and unique icon packs. Downloading and editing existing icons in an app like Affinity Photo can also be useful (and free).

Once you’ve gathered a collection of custom icons in the Photos app or Files, it’s time to make a Shortcuts bookmark.

  1. Start the Shortcuts app.
  2. To make a new Shortcut, press the “+” button.
  3. Search for “Open App” under “add action.” Choose “Open App” from the list of options.
  4. Tap on the blue text “App.” Look for the app that is being launched by a custom icon. Choose that app.
  5. Tap on the menu at the top of the editing screen to rename the Shortcut. While not required, it is necessary to keep track of multiple app launchers’ built-in Shortcuts.
  6. Select “Add to Home Screen” from the same top menu.
  7. To rename the icon, tap on the text. To select a custom image from Photos or Files, tap the icon next to the text.
  8. To finish customizing the icon and add it to the Home Screen, tap “add.”
  9. Return to Shortcuts and tap the ellipses on the newly created app launcher shortcut to add another custom icon to the Home Screen for that app. Repeat for each custom page that will be used on different Focuses where that app will be used.

This method enables the use of different custom icons for the same app bookmark across Focuses with different wallpapers and widgets. Make a new Shortcut for each app that requires a customized icon.

The only difference between tapping an app icon from the App Library and tapping an app bookmark with a custom icon is a notification banner. When you tap an app bookmark, it will always show that a Shortcut is running for a brief moment.

Insert widgets into the Home Screen

In the App Store, there are dozens of great apps for creating custom widgets. Furthermore, most other apps include a built-in widget for displaying data from that app.

Many users will be pleased with the widgets offered by apps such as Carrot Weather and Fantastical. When more customization is required, make sure to build some custom widgets to match wallpaper or Focus.

When it’s time to add a Home Screen widget:

  1. To enter wiggle mode, press and hold a blank space or an app icon on the Home Screen.
  2. Tap the “+” sign in the upper left corner.
  3. A list of apps with available widgets is displayed first, followed by a selection of suggested widgets. The “Smart Stack” option creates a widget stack based on app usage.
  4. Drag a widget onto the Home Screen by pressing and holding it. To add a widget to a stack, move it over to another widget of the same size.
  5. To edit widgets within a stack, tap on it.
  6. While in wiggle mode, tap on a widget to edit its contents when available. Change the conditions displayed by the weather app, for example.
  7. Place a widget, customize its background and data, and choose which apps or bookmarks appear on the page. A single Home Screen page is now complete and ready for use with a specific Focus.

Focus Modes bring it all together

After you’ve created a Lock Screen and a Home Screen page layout, it’s time to link them with a Focus Mode. When a Focus is active, only the Home Screen pages that have a custom wallpaper and a specific Lock Screen are displayed.

To see different customized layouts, switch between Focuses or turn off Focus. Make use of scheduling tools and automation to change things based on context.

Focus Modes are controlled via the Settings app’s “Focus” section. There is a list of existing Focuses with a “+” in the top right corner to add more. Users can have a maximum of ten Focuses.

Apple’s pre-defined Focuses contain various controls. The Driving Focus, for example, does not have a Home Screen page selection option. Explore the default Focuses or create your custom Focus.

Pre-defined Focuses with default names and icons include Driving, Work, and Personal. When creating or editing a custom Focus, users can choose an icon, color, and name.

Changing notification settings

Notification filters are much easier to manage now that iOS 16 is available. Rather than deciding which people and apps should be allowed to notify the user, a new option allows for the exclusion of specific apps and people.

Select “Silence Notifications From” to allow notifications from any app or person not listed in the filter. Select “Allow Notifications From” to restrict notifications to specific apps or people.

Per Focus Mode, only one of the two options is available.

Silence or allow people to notify you

  1. Tap “People” and then select whether the list of people should be allowed or silenced.
  2. When you tap “Add People,” a Contacts modal window will appear. Navigate the UI and check the box to include everyone in the list. It is advantageous if Contacts have already been organized into groups.
  3. To complete the selection, tap “Done.”
  4. A toggle for “Allow Repeated Calls” can be turned on or off by the user.

Turn off or allow app notifications

  1. Select “Choose apps.” The previous option of allowing or suppressing notifications will still be active.
  2. When you tap “Add Apps,” an alphabetical list of all installed apps will appear. Navigate the user interface and select each app to include in the list.
  3. To complete the selection, tap “Done.”
  4. According to the user’s preferences, a toggle for “Time Sensitive Notifications” can be turned on or off.
  5. More Focus-specific controls are available via an additional options menu below the People and Apps selections. Showing or hiding silenced notifications on the Lock Screen, dimming the
  6. Lock Screen, and hiding Notification Badges from app icons are all options here.

Choosing custom screens

The section below notification settings is used to associate a Focus with a Lock Screen, a selection of Home Screen pages, and an Apple Watch face. The selected screens will be used when the Focus is active.

To manage custom Focus screens:

  1. To change the Lock Screen, tap the first iPhone image.
  2. Tap on the Lock Screen for the current Focus that is being edited. It is possible to select multiple Lock Screens. However, it is unclear how a Focus will select from multiple options.
  3. To proceed, tap “Done.”
  4. Select Home Screens by tapping the second iPhone image.
  5. Tap on each page of the Home Screen that will be used for the current Focus. The Lock Screen wallpaper will be used as the Home Screen wallpaper by default. Use the earlier Home Screen wallpaper selection guide to change this independently of the Lock Screen.
  6. To proceed, tap “Done.”
  7. To select a watch face, tap on the Apple Watch image.
  8. To finish, tap “Done.”

When you activate this Focus for any reason, the Lock Screen, Home Screen, and Apple Watch face will change. This can be used to change the context of a device based on whether it is at work or before going to bed.

Focus Modes Scheduling

There are several ways to activate Focus Modes. Users can choose a Focus from the Control Center, Settings, or by changing the Lock Screen.

While these manual options are accessible and useful, automation adds a touch of magic to the situation. With a few settings, a user’s iPhone can be transformed into whatever visual context is required at the time.

Focus Mode Built-in Automation

Focus Modes include at least one optional automation for turning the Focus on and off using what Apple refers to as “Smart Activation.” Because it will use machine learning to determine when the Focus should be active, this mode is the most ambiguous.

When applicable, other default activation modes are included with specific Focuses.

  • Driving Focus – activates automatically based on device data or when connected to CarPlay or a car. Bluetooth
  • Fitness Focus – activate when an Apple Watch workout begins.
  • Gaming When a game controller is connected, the focus is activated.
  • Sleep Focus can be activated in Apple Health by using the sleep schedule.
  • Mindfulness Focus – activate when a session in the Mindfulness app begins.

Within the Focus settings, users can also configure custom activations.

  1. Tap “Add Schedule” in the Focus settings.
  2. Choose between “Time,” “Location,” and “App.”
  3. Users can activate a Focus based on the time of day and the day of the week using Time.
  4. Users can activate a Focus based on their location, such as work, school, home, or a searched address.
  5. The app allows users to activate a Focus based on an open app. For example, when you open Books or Kindles, turn on the Reading Focus.
  6. To create different parameters for a single Focus, select “Add Schedule” multiple times.

Focus Filters

In iOS 16, Focus Filters were introduced. Specific interface sections can be designated by apps as a “filter” that users can assign to a Focus.

In Apple Mail, for example, a user could be signed into both a work and a personal email account. Using Focus Filters, a user could completely hide work email when in any Focus that isn’t work-related.

Because this feature is still in its early stages, developers will need to add support. Keep an eye out for app updates and add new filters to each Focus to ensure that each app and experience is optimized for the context.

To Add A Focus Filter

  1. Tap “Add Filter” near the bottom of the Focus settings.
  2. Choose which filter to use.
  3. Select which account or information to use to configure the filter.
  4. To finish configuring the Filter System preferences, tap “Add.”

System-wide preferences

There are a few more aspects of iOS that can be tailored to the user’s preferences. These settings affect how the device looks and feels in a more general way, rather than something specific, such as the Home Screen.

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