You may be tempted to speed past the Lock and Home screens to get to the apps on your iPhone or iPad, but that’s like ignoring the concierge desk at a quality hotel. By all means, feel free to make your own way around the city—or, let the friendly local expert point you to the best destinations and often get you there faster.

Under iOS 9, the Lock and Home screens are your concierge, especially with the addition of 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Read on for more about what these two screens can do.

A tour of both the Lock and Home screens | Basics | Shortcuts | Search

A tour of the Lock and Home screens

The Lock and Home screens share essential information that’s just a glance away.

The Lock screen

  • Status bar: Running along the top of the screen, this strip displays the current cellular and Wi-Fi connection status, the current time (on the Home screen), Bluetooth connection status, and battery level. It will also display icons for when an app is using Location Services and when an alarm is set.
  • Notification bar: On the Lock screen, pull down on the gray bar to display Notification Center. On the Home screen, the bar doesn’t appear, but Notification Center is always available by pulling down from the top of the screen. If you’d prefer to hide your notifications and Today screen details from anyone who’s picked up your iPhone, go to Settings > Passcode (or Touch ID and Passcode) and turn off the Today and Notifications View options listed under Allow Access When Locked.
  • Control Center bar: On the Lock screen, pull up on the gray bar that appears at the bottom of the screen to view Control Center. If you prefer not to make it available when your device is locked, go to Settings > Control Center and turn off Access on Lock Screen. On the Home screen, the gray bar does not appear, but you can still drag up from the bottom to reveal Control Center.
  • Time: The current time and date appears in the middle of the screen on the Lock screen. If music or a podcast is playing, the time shifts to the Status bar to make room for the audio playback.

The Home screen

  • Apps: Lots and lots of apps! Tap an icon to open an app, and read on to learn more about what you can do with apps on the Home screen.
  • Folders: Too many apps on your home screen? You can drag one on top of the other to create a folder.
  • Dock: On the Home screen, the Dock displays 4 (iPhone and iPod touch) or up to 6 (iPad) app icons that remain on every home screen. The Dock can also include folders.
  • Search: Living just outside of the Home screen, the Search screen is just a pull or swipe away. You can view installed apps or other apps on the store, recent news articles, featured apps and contacts, and search for just about anything.
  • Control Center and Notification Center: Like on the Lock screen, the Home screen has hidden handle access to both Control Center and Notification Center. Just drag up from the bottom or down from the top of the screen to access them.

The basics

When it comes to customizing your Lock and Home screens, you’re only a few taps away from greatness. Here’s how to change your wallpaper, change your access Control Center or Notification Center, act on notifications on your Lock screen, and create a folder of apps on your Home screen.

How to change your wallpaper

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Wallpaper.

  3. Tap Choose a New Wallpaper.
  4. To use one of the wallpapers included with iOS, tap Dynamic, Stills, or Live Photo (iPhone 6s or 6s Plus only) under Apple Wallpaper. To use one of your own images, tap an album under Photos.

  5. Tap the image or Live Photo you want to use.
  6. In the Wallpaper Preview, tap Still, Perspective, or Live Photo to choose whether the image is static or shifts as you move the device.
  7. Tap Set.
  8. Choose which screen gains the new image: Set Lock Screen, Set Home Screen, or Set Both.

How to choose which features appear on the Lock screen

Of course, if you’re not comfortable providing information on the lock screen, you can choose what appears:

  1. Open Settings > General > Touch ID & Passcode.
  2. Scroll down to the Allow Access When Locked section and toggle on or off the features you want.

How to act on a notification from the Lock screen

When a notification appears on the lock screen, slide the item to the right to view it in its app. In a similar vein, you can remove a notification from the Lock screen without unlocking your device. Swipe left on the notification, and then tap the X button that appears.

Incoming text messages have an extra capability: instead of swiping to the right to jump to Messages, swipe to the left and tap the Reply button that appears to compose and send a message from the Lock screen.

How to create a folder of apps on the Home screen

The Home screen—actually a collection of screens accessed by swiping left and right—holds all of your apps, but it’s not just a filing system.

  1. Light touch and hold any app icon until all of the icons start to shake. You’ll also see an X button appear at the edge of third-party apps.
  2. Drag one app icon onto the top of another. After a brief pause, a new group is formed. In iOS 9, folders on the iPad now appear in rows of four, which is a better use of space.
  3. Drag other apps into the folder to move them there.
  4. Press the Home button to make the icons stop shaking.

To pull apps out of a folder, repeat the process and drag icons out of the folder group. If you remove all the apps, the folder disappears.


Once you’ve mastered Home screen basics, the next thing to do is put those basics to work with some smart shortcuts.

How to quickly bring up Apple Pay and Wallet

On an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, or iPhone 6s Plus, double-press the Home button when the phone is asleep. This activates Apple Pay and also displays the cards you’ve added to the Wallet (formerly called Passbook) app. Note that this is a full press of the Home button, not touching the Touch ID sensor twice which shifts the screen down to make the interface more reachable for your thumb.

How to jump directly to the Camera app to take a photo

  1. Press the Home or On/Off button to reveal the Lock screen.
  2. Swipe the Camera icon up, which opens the Camera app immediately. It opens to the mode that was active the last time you used the Camera app.

What to do when an app icon appears on the Lock screen

When an app icon appears in the lower-left corner of the Lock screen, it means one of three things:

  • You’re near a business or iBeacon that is broadcasting its location and you have a corresponding app installed, such as being near a Starbucks store; drag the icon to the top of the screen to launch that app.
  • You’re able to use Handoff to take over from an app on another device. For example, if you’re composing an email message on your iPhone and switch to your iPad, drag the Mail icon that appears on the iPad up to load the message you were working on in the Mail app.
  • When you insert a headphone jack into the device’s headphone port, iOS 9 guesses you want to listen to something and displays the icon of last audio app you used, such as Music or a podcast player. Drag the icon up to open that app.

How to switch between Home screens without swiping

This action isn’t new to iOS 9 or the iPhone 6s, but it’s still handy: Tap the row of navigation dots that appear above the dock: tapping anywhere in the left half of the screen on that row takes you to the previous screen (or the search screen if you’re already at the Home screen); tapping anywhere in the right half of the screen takes you to the next Home screen.

How to take Quick Actions from the Home screen using 3D Touch

On an iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, press an app icon to reveal Quick Actions you can perform without opening the app first. For example, press the Phone app to view favorite contacts and initiate a call by selecting on, or do the same to start a text chat using the Messages app. From the Camera app icon, take a selfie (which automatically switches to the front-facing camera), record video, record a Slo-mo video, or take a photo. In the Maps app, quickly get directions home, mark your current location to get back to it later, send your location to someone, or search for items nearby.

Search on the Home screen

To search in iOS 9 or on your iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, all you have to do is swipe down from the middle of the Home screen or swipe all the way to the right. This brings up the Spotlight search screen, which offers you access to all sorts of search features—including app search.

The Spotlight search screen provides quick links to apps, people, and news items, but you can jump straight into the Search field by swiping down anywhere on the screen instead of tapping the field itself; the cursor will automatically appear in the field, and the onscreen keyboard pops up, ready for you to type—or, if you’re not in a typing mood, tap the dictation button and speak your search term.

Developers can take advantage of the search page, too. A setting in 1Password, for example, enables matches from your secure password library to appear in the results list.

How to find an app from any Home screen

  1. Touch anywhere on the Home screen and drag down to reveal the Search field.
  2. If the app you want appears in the Siri App Suggestions box, tap it.
  3. Otherwise, type the name of the app you want into the Search field. Or, tap the dictation button in the field and then speak the name of the app.

How to perform a broader search from the Home screen

  1. Press the Home button to go to the Home screen. If you’re already viewing your apps but are not on the first Home screen, press the Home button again.
  2. Swipe right to view the new iOS 9 Search screen. iOS populates the screen with a lot of helpful options: recent or frequent contacts and apps as Siri Suggestions; a set of categories, such as coffee or gas, that open in the Maps app; and current news items that open the News app when tapped.
  3. Tap the Search field and type a query. You’ll see results from your music library, Apple Music, Wikipedia, Web site suggestions, Messages, and more. If none of the initial results are what you’re looking for, tap Search Web, Search App Store, or Search Maps.

Questions about the Home or Lock screens?

Let us know in the comments.

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