Handy iPhone Tip: Put Your Lock Screen to Good Use

I hate it when I have this fantastic, amazing, awesome idea and I think that it is original and I thought it up all by my little lonesome, only to find out that it’s been done and may or may not be fairly common.  And then finding out that there are actual apps made for the very thing I just thought up.  It’s kind of a buzzkill.  But whatever.  I’ll blog about it anyway, with the disclaimer that I apparently am not as inventive as I originally thought. Maybe the Barenaked Ladies were right, and it really HAS all been done before. Oh well.

I’m sure we’ve all gotten that e-mail about how we should enter an emergency contact into our phone’s contacts, and start it with a special character! so that it stays at the top! so it will be easy to find!  That is all well and good, but what about those of us who keep our smartphones locked?  Many people who have company-issued iPhones are required to keep them locked with a passcode {or fingerprint scan, now that the iPhone 5S is out}.  I just don’t want anyone to be able to pick up my phone and access bank/PayPal info or read messages or do whatever they want with it before I can remotely wipe it, in the event it is ever stolen.  This kind of renders the ICE contact useless, no?  If someone isn’t able to get into my phone in an emergency and I’m unconscious, how will they know who to contact?  Or perhaps a good Samaritan stumbled upon my phone and wanted to return it to me, but can’t unlock it to find out to whom it should be returned?

One way around that is to set your iPhone’s lock screen wallpaper to an image of contact information for yourself and your ICE contact.  There are a ton of different ways to do this, from simply writing it on paper and taking a photo to creating your own image using whatever app you normally use.  I used Phonto to do this.  I have been using this app for years to add text to photos, and it has an option to type onto a plain background in preset sizes for various iProducts.

Open up the Phonto app and press the camera at the bottom, then select Plain Image.

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Up at the top, you’ll see a box that says 1024×1024.  Tap the box and change the dimensions to suit your product.

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Tinker with the color, borders, layout, whatever, and then tap the ‘upload’ box at the top right, then tap ‘use’.

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Tap anywhere in your newly created image to start adding text.

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Enter whatever info you deem pertinent.  Choose your font, change the size, placement, color, etc.  Be sure to leave yourself plenty of room on the sides, because iOS 7 makes the photos a bit larger when they are set to a lock or home screen.

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When you’re happy with it, tap the ‘upload’ box and save your image.

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Then go to your photos and set that image as your lock screen wallpaper.  I’m sure you all know how to do this. And there you go.

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One problem I have with this tip in iOS 7 is that whenever a notification comes through, it blurs the wallpaper on the lock screen.  As I was trying to find a way around that, I realized that my notifications gave away entirely too much information about myself.  Facebook posts and messages showed in previews, Instagram and Twitter replies, reminders, calendar entries, PayPal payments, Etsy conversations, and limited Mint and credit card information, just to name a few.  This prompted me to turn off most of the notifications that show up in my lock screen by default.  Doing that is easy as well:  Settings > Notification Center > from here you can turn off ALL notifications in your lock screen, or you can go app by app and edit how you want your notifications to appear. 

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I still wanted most of these notifications to show up in my daily view, but not on my lock screen, so I just flipped the switch to make them not show up on my lock screen.  I left the reminders on because they can be snoozed, and hopefully anyone who found my phone in an emergency would be able to figure that out.  :)

You might be concerned with people being able to peek over your shoulder and see your precious contact information. I have a simple solution for this as well: get a grip. If you’re standing there staring at your lock screen for longer than two seconds, you’ve got issues. I promise you that nobody is paying THAT much attention to you on the train or in the library or sitting at the dinner table with a bunch of people who probably already know your phone number and e-mail address. I’d rather someone know how to return my phone to me or contact my husband in an emergency than get all MY PRECIOUSSSSSSSS over information that anyone can find out if they halfway try.

Hope you’ve enjoyed learning how to do something that apparently a lot of other people have done before and I’m just oblivious. And now we have reached the part of this post that I like to refer to as The End.

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