Thursday, October 17, 2013

Picture Passwords and more cool Lock Screen customizations in Windows 8

One of the new features of Windows 8 that is particularly useful to tablet and mobile users, and particularly annoying to PC users, is the Lock Screen. When you put your machine to sleep or to AFK (away from keyboard), a Lock Screen comes up. On a mobile device or in an office, you want to keep your desktop hidden from prying eyes when you aren't paying attention. However, if you have Windows 8 in your home or office, and you are the only user, it can be annoying.

Here’s how to get the most from the Windows Lock Screen:

Customize the Lock Screen

You can change the background image of your Lock Screen. Open the Charms Bar (the top right corner of your start page) and choose “Settings”. From there select “Change PC Settings”. Most of your customizing can be done here.

Turn Off the Lock Screen Password 

If your PC is in a secure location, you may want to disable the password on login. From “Change PC Settings”, click “Accounts” then “Sign-In Options”. The last option permits you to turn off login passwords altogether.

Create a strong password 

If it is necessary to use a password on your PC, create a strong password. The best passwords have a mix of letters, numbers and symbols such as the @ sign. Remember it, but don’t make it easy to figure out. Everyone knows your dog’s name and your kid’s birthday. Be more creative.

Simple Password or PIN

Windows also has a second password option, the Personal Identification Number or PIN. This is handy for signing in after a bathroom break. It’s also handy as a back up plan when you forget that strong password you just created.

Create a Picture Password 

One of the coolest features of Windows 8 is that it’s optimized for touch screens and telephones. For these you can create a Picture Password. The start screen image acts as a map. In the “Accounts” area, choose “Picture Password” and follow the instructions. Now you can trace a pattern right on top of the image. Don’t forget to update it if you change your Lock Screen background.

Change the Background on the Lock Screen 

You can change to any photo. Under “PC Settings” choose “Personalize” in Windows 8, or in Windows 8.1, choose “PC and Devices” then “Lock Screen”. You can choose from one of their pictures or click browse to use one of your images. Again, don’t forget to change your Picture Password if you’re using that feature.

Change Notifications on the Lock Screen

The default notifications are the time and date. I kept these, but you can add several other apps by selecting them under the “Lock Screen Apps” section of the previous settings page. If your boss sticks you in a closet with no windows, it might be nice to know the weather. If you communicate by email, you can have your mail app inform you when something new arrives.

As much as I hate “waking up” my computer at work, the Lock Screen does have some nice features which at least make it useful. For tablet users, you should love it. Come on, a Picture Password is cool. Old passwords are so 2007!

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