12+ things you can do with a locked iPhone

You may be surprised at just how many things you can do with a locked iPhone. Learn what you can do and how to switch these features off.

Apple, iOS, iPad, iPhone, Lockscreen, security, Siri
Jason Cross/IDG

With so much focus on staying productive, it may surprise you to realize just how many things you can do with a locked iPhone. What can you do and how can you switch these features off?

Wake it up

The Raise to Wake feature available since iPhone 6S/SE means your iPhone can tell when you pick it up and will wake the display up automatically so you need not do so. Left on by default, you can disable this feature in Settings>Display & Brightness where you toggle Raise to Wake to off.

Make a call, send a message, and more

You can call people from a locked iPhone. Just ask Siri to call a person in your contact book. You can also send Messages using the locked device. Just ask Siri to send a Message and name someone in the device’s Contacts book. To stop this, set Allow Siri When Locked to off in Settings>Siri & Search.

You can use Siri

If enabled, Siri will also tell you about your agenda, create meetings and reminders, and send text messages to contacts while your device is locked. It will also let you see its top result recommendations when you enter a search term on the lockscreen, though you will need to unlock the screen to get to those results. If you don’t want Siri to be accessible from the lockscreen, you should toggle Allow Siri When Locked to off in Settings>Siri & Search.

Open Control Center

Being able to open Control Center from the lockscreen means you can make some use of all the widgets available there. If the TV widget is installed, you can control a registered Apple TV; you can even switch Wi-Fi networks and more. You can prevent Control Center access from a locked iPhone in Settings>Touch ID & Passcode, where you toggle the feature off. You can also prevent use of individual Control Center widgets by removing them from Control Center. (Go to Settings>Control Center>Customize Controls and tap the red remove icon to the left of each widget name.)

Use the flashlight (torch)

You can use Control Center on your locked iPhone to enable the flashlight. That’s useful when you don’t want to go through the rigmarole of unlocking your iPhone to do so. Want to prevent use of this feature? Remove the widget from Control Center (see above).

Music controls

You can use a locked iPhone to play music. Once again, you’ll access this feature through the Control Center, where you must tap and hold the music icon in order to access more detail about your tunes, such as what’s playing and volume setting.

Check Notifications

Every single notification for every single app will be available via the Lockscreen if you leave the feature enabled in Settings>Touch ID & Passcode. You can limit which apps are shown in Notifications view when you scroll to the bottom of that view and tap Edit. If you want, you can also set preferences so that the content of messages that do appear on the lockscreen in Notifications view is protected. To do that, go to Notifications > Select app (in this case Messages), scroll down and switch Show Previewsto Always, When Unlocked (default behaviour) or Never.

Today widgets

You can access quite a lot of information about your day from the lockscreen in the form of Today widgets. You can prevent access to these on the lockscreen in Settings>Touch ID & Passcode, toggle Today View from green to off. You also control access to Recent Notifications, Control Center, Siri, Reply with Message, Home Control, Wallet, and Return Missed Calls in this section.

Take a picture

Swipe right to left across your iPhone screen to open the camera. Now you can take a picture or look at the image you just took with that camera. However, you cannot explore your photo library without unlocking the device. 

Look in the Wallet

Apple Pay users can access their stored cards just by double-tapping the Home button. While you can’t do a great deal with them (you still need to authorize them using your passcode, Touch ID or Face ID), you may not want them to be that easy to reach. You disable this behavior in Settings>Wallet & Apple Pay where you toggle Double-Click Home Button to off. Wallet will still open automatically when you hover your device above a payment terminal and will still require authorization before it actually pays for anything.

Return a Missed Call

When enabled, you can return any missed calls directly from the Lock screen. You can also reply to Messages from the screen. Control this in Settings>Touch ID & Passcode.

Make an Emergency call

The Enter Password screen also offers an Emergency button in the bottom left corner. Tap this to reach the dialler where you can make an Emergency Call

Check Medical data

The Emergency screen also lets you check medical ID. This usually consists of limited information about the iPhone owner, emergency contact details, and notes concerning any essential medical info, such as allergies or ongoing medical conditions.

‘Whose iPhone is this?’

You can activate Siri to search for items online, make appointments, and more. You can’t get Siri to search the contents of the device. One useful thing you can ask Siri on any locked iPhone is who the phone belongs to. Activate it by pressing the Home button and then asking, “Whose iPhone is this?" It will give you the name and contact numbers of the Apple ID it is registered to.

One more thing

If you lose your iPhone, you can prevent nearly all these lockscreen features in one fell swoop by enabling Find My iPhone’s Lost mode, which even disables the camera lockscreen shortcut. You can turn this mode on using the Find My iPhone app on another iPhone or through your account at iCloud.com. You’ll need to have enabled Find My iPhone on your device in iCloud Settings first.

Want more tips? Take a look at these useful ideas.

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