Skip to main content

How to use the depth effect on your iOS 16 lock screen

For many years, the home and lock screens for Apple’s iPhone largely remained unchanged; that is, until iOS 14 and iOS 16. With iOS 14, users were finally able to do some home screen customization by using custom app icons through the Shortcuts app. iOS 16 spruced up the lock screen with a few personalization options, as well as adding widgets.




5 minutes

What You Need

  • An iPhone

  • iOS 16 or later

One of the cool things about iOS 16 lock screen customization is the depth effect that you can apply to most photo wallpapers. Here’s how to add some depth to your iOS 16 lock screen with just a few taps!

Someone holding an iPhone 14, showing the Lock Screen.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

How to get the depth effect on your iOS 16 lock screen

The depth effect on the iOS 16 lock screen can work with pretty much any image, not just Portrait mode images. The image also doesn’t necessarily need to be a photo that you took — even images that you’ve saved from elsewhere on the internet can be used with the depth effect, though the end results may vary, as some images work better than others.

Step 1: On the lock screen (when unlocked) press and hold anywhere on the screen to bring up the lock screen picker.

Step 2: Tap the Blue plus sign button to add a new lock screen.

Step 3: Tap the Photos button to find an image you want to use for your wallpaper or tap one of the suggested photos.

Step 4: If necessary, use multitouch gestures to pinch and pan the image around to crop it for your lock screen.

Step 5: Select the Three-dots button in the bottom right and make sure Depth effect is selected for the effect to happen.

Step 6: Optionally, if you want to change the filter on the wallpaper image, swipe left and right to go through the available options.

Step 7: Tap Add to add that lock screen to save it.

Tips to make the depth effect look great

Not all images will work with the depth effect on the iOS 16 lock screen. For best results, we recommend an image that has a clearly defined subject in the foreground and one that you can easily line up with the time widget.

If an image is already too zoomed in when setting it as wallpaper, it won’t work well because you can’t zoom out. You also can’t zoom too far in, as that will remove the depth effect. It’s a fickle beast, so even though it’s supposed to work with any image, your mileage may vary.

Another important thing to note is that if you decide you want widgets on the lock screen, the depth effect is automatically disabled. So, you have to choose between having an informative lock screen or one that looks cool with depth. It’s a silly limitation imposed by Apple for some reason, but that’s just how it is. If you end up with too many lock screens because of this, don't worry! You can also delete lock screens if you change your mind.

The iPhone 14 Plus's screen.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Making your lock screen cool again with iOS 16

The depth effect is a great little touch for lock screen customization with iOS 16, and it's great to see it as an option. Even though it’s not perfect, with the ability to have multiple lock screens to choose from, it’s great if you want to keep things simple.

Editors' Recommendations

Christine Romero-Chan
Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade. She graduated from California…
I reviewed 20 phones in 2023. These are my 5 favorites
A person taking a photo with the Apple iPhone 15 Plus.

This has been a fantastic year for smartphones due to the sheer variety of great devices at all prices. In other words, if you wanted a brilliant new phone this year, it didn’t have to be a $1,000-plus flagship.

I’ve used and reviewed a great many phones over the past 12 months, but the following five have left the biggest impression to become what I consider the very best you can get.
iPhone 15 Plus
Apple iPhone 15 Plus Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Read more
Why RCS for the iPhone is Apple’s biggest announcement of 2023
A person holding the Apple iPhone 15 Plus.

Hell has frozen over. On November 16, 2023, Apple made the very unexpected announcement that it was bringing support for RCS on the iPhone in 2024.

In 2022, Tim Cook himself said that he’d rather sell you an iPhone instead of ever bringing RCS support to the iPhone because he thought customer demand for RCS wasn’t there. Google has made numerous attempts to shame Apple over its pushback of RCS over the years.

Read more
How to screen record on an iPhone or iPad
iPhone X tips and tricks

Sometimes taking a screenshot isn't enough to get your point across when you're trying to share something from your shine new iPhone 15 Pro. While you can take multiple screenshots to help a friend or family member learn how to do something or even just show off your finesse in Genshin Impact, why not just give them a video clip where they can follow the entire process?

The good news is that Apple makes this really easy to do in iOS 17 without the need for any third-party apps. Just like taking a screenshot, screen recordings are automatically saved to your photo library, where you can trim them, edit them, and share them like any other video clip.

Read more