Set a Custom Lock Screen Message to Aid Return of a Lost iPad or iPhone

Mar 29, 2012 - 8 Comments

Set a Lock Screen Message for Returning a Lost iPad

If you’re worried about losing an iPad or iPhone, you can greatly assist the chances of getting the iOS device returned to you by setting a custom “If Found” message as the lock screens wallpaper.

This only takes a minute or two to set up, and you can either use your camera or an app to help you create the lock screen message.

For the camera trick, simply write out your message, or print out your contact information and then take a picture of it. Then, set that picture as the locked screen wallpaper on the iPhone or iPad from Photos > Share button > Use as Wallpaper.

If you’re going to go the app approach, this is one way to handle that:

  1. Use a drawing app (Paper for iPad is free and popular right now) to write out a simple “If Found” message, include a name, phone number, email address, and physical address for best results. When finished, save that image to the Photos Library.
  2. Open the image from Photos app, tap the arrow box in the upper right corner, and select “Use as Wallpaper” then tap “Set Lock Screen”

Be sure to situate the image so that the message is always visible regardless of device orientation, this can be tricky to get perfect, but using a more squared “if found” image fits well.

Combine this tip with a secure lock screen passcode and Find My iPad/iPhone (configured within iCloud set up) to provide some added security and to further improve chances of tracking down a lost or stolen iOS device.

Mac users can set a similar lock/login screen message in OS X as well, though Lion or newer is required and it’s slightly less obvious than the wallpaper method.


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Posted by: William Pearson in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks


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  1. David Johnson says:

    Thank you for these different tips on what to do to set a custom “if found” lockscreen, especially the idea of using a drawing app. Lately I’ve been misplacing my phone a lot and so I’ll definitely have to make sure I do something about it. I’ll have to look more into customizable phone lock screens.

  2. Dave B says:

    If you want a nice lock screen picture (instead of a hand drawn note or pic of a monitor) download an app from the app store to add captions to photos. There are several (but none great that I have found); search for “caption”. Load your photo in the app, add your name, email, and phone #, then save image, and use as wallpaper.
    I’m using the app “Photo Name”. Adds a nice black bar at the bottom of a pic, with grey text.

  3. Ted says:

    A somewhat neater effect can be accomplished by simply typing the desired message (in whatever font in moderate size) in any word processor, taking a picture of the monitor screen (adjusting size, etc.) with the IPad’s camera and then following the instructions for making it wallpaper.

    • Paula Roberts says:

      Ted, I typed my desired message in word processing in a very large font, printed it and taped it up on the wall. Then I took a picture of it and followed the wallpaper directions. Looks excellent!


  4. Kandar says:

    if you put anything put a work address and office phone extension. I’d never put personal info… even as I leave this replay I only give a “junkdrawer” hotmail address. lol

  5. Frank says:

    I would advise against putting your address on it, if someone pick pockets you or simply finds the phone they know where you live.
    If this is far from where the phone is they could rob your house then, or come to get you later since they know you have expensive taste :P

  6. sault says:

    For sure this will help to return an stolen or lost Ipad/Iphone…. :-)

  7. Brian Yang says:

    I would also recommend the setting to destroy data after 10 failed password attempts, as long as you don’t have kids around at least.

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