How to Put Time Behind Wallpaper in iOS 16

Lock screen customization is among the most significant talking points on iOS 16 and rightly so. Apple has added widget support on the lock screen, you can create multiple lock screens at any time and switch between them, and perhaps the biggest change to come to it visually is Depth Effect.

Depth Effect is when parts of your wallpaper cover the time or digital clock to give you a mirage as if your wallpaper is interacting with elements of your lock screen. In this post, we’ll explain what Depth Effect is all about and how you can get the lock screen time/clock behind a wallpaper on iOS 16. 

Related: How to Change Clock Font on iPhone on iOS 16

What is the Depth Effect feature in iOS 16?

As the name implies, the Depth Effect on iOS 16 adds several layers of depth to your wallpaper. When you apply a lock screen wallpaper on your iPhone, iOS utilizes your device’s Neural Engine to detect depth information from the image you applied. This way, your iPhone will be able to separate subjects you want to be in focus on from the rest of the elements of your wallpaper. 

With the subject now in focus, Depth Effect will now push the rest of the wallpaper behind the lock screen clock with the subject now covering some portion of the clock. You will now see a cool-looking effect where some (bottom) parts of the iOS clock are hidden under your wallpaper’s subject with the rest of it at the back.  

Related: How to make a Photo Cutout on iPhone on iOS 16

How to get time behind wallpaper on iPhone lock screen on iOS 16

You can move the time widget on the lock screen behind elements of your wallpaper by enabling Depth Effect. You can turn on Depth Effect on your current wallpaper or a new background from your camera roll by following the instructions below. 

To enable Depth Effect, unlock your phone using Face ID but do not go to the home screen yet. For this, simply press the Side button, show your face to the iPhone and let the Lock Screen get unlocked. Now, long-press anywhere on the unlocked lock screen.

When the lock screen goes into edit mode, tap on Customize at the bottom to enable Depth Effect on your existing lock screen wallpaper. If you wish to keep your current lock screen as it is and create another lock screen with a new background, tap on the + button at the bottom right corner.

If you chose the latter option, follow the instructions below. If not, skip this set of instructions to proceed. When you tap on the + button, you will reach the Add New Wallpaper screen. Here, select Photos at the top to choose a new wallpaper. 

On the next screen, you’ll see all the pictures in your iPhone library. From here, select the background you wish to add as your new lock screen wallpaper. 

The selected background will now load onto the lock screen edit screen and you can continue the steps of applying the Depth Effect on it the same way you would on an existing background by following the steps below. 

Regardless of whether you’re editing your current lock screen or adding a new one, you will now enter the Customize screen where all the elements at the top of your lock screen will appear inside boxes. If iOS can detect different layers of your background, then Depth Effect should be enabled automatically. If not, you need to bring the subject you want to focus closer to the lock screen clock at the top. 

As you can see from the above screenshot, the subject (beige-colored building) isn’t anywhere near the lock screen clock; so Depth Effect isn’t in effect. To be able to use the Depth Effect, pinch outwards using two fingers on the screen to zoom into the background, so that the subject expands to touch certain parts of the lock screen clock. You can also use two fingers to reposition the subject to your desired location on the lock screen. 

Depth effect should get enabled automatically when iOS detects that some elements of the subject are closer to the clock.

In case it’s not enabled on its own, tap on the 3-dots icon at the bottom right corner.

From the overflow menu, select Depth Effect until a tick mark appears on its left.

You will now see that the subject (the building) now covers part of the clock to get you the desired Depth Effect.

You can further zoom in/out of the background (by dragging with two fingers) to reposition the subject relative to the clock however you want. When you’re done editing your lock screen, tap on Add at the top right corner to save changes.

iOS will now preview your new lock screen and home screen in a box at the bottom. If you’re satisfied with both the looks, tap on Set as Wallpaper Pair. You can also choose Custom Home Screen to personalize your home screen wallpaper separately. 

Your new lock screen with Depth Effect will now be previewed on the Customize screen. To activate it, tap on this new lock screen.

You will now see the new lock screen enabled with Depth Effect on your iPhone.

Related: iOS 16 Lock Screen: How to Show Full Clock in Front or Let Subject Come in Front

How to crop the lock screen wallpaper

If you wish to crop a background to apply it as your lock screen wallpaper, you can use the Wallpaper aspect ratio that’s available inside the Photos app on iOS 16 and then use this cropped background as your new wallpaper. An easier way is to set the background directly on your lock screen and then crop it using the Pinch to Crop tool within the lock screen’s Edit screen. You can check out both of these methods in the post linked below. 

How to Crop iPhone Wallpapers From Any Image on iOS 16

Depth Effect requirements and supported devices

Depth requires your iPhone to be powered by Apple’s A12 Bionic chipset or later and can thus work on the following devices:

  • iPhone XR, iPhone XS/Max
  • iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro/Max
  • iPhone SE (2020 and 2022)
  • iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro/Max
  • iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro/Max
  • iPhone 14/Plus, iPhone 14 Pro/Max

The iPhone X and iPhone 8 both offer Depth Effect but the feature is restricted to the native wallpapers available on iOS 16. This means you cannot use pictures from your Camera Roll to apply the Depth Effect on these two devices.

How to Do Depth Effect on iPhone X

In addition to having these supported iPhones, you also need to make sure that your iPhone is updated to iOS 16 via Settings > General > Software Update.

Besides these requirements, you need to make sure that the wallpaper you want to apply Depth Effect on has subjects that distinguish themselves from the rest of the image. For this, you can check for wallpapers that have a clear background at the top with the subjects underneath. This way, iOS will be able to separate the subject from the wallpaper leaving the clear background behind the clock for a distinct look. 

Depth Effect won’t work on images where there are no clear subjects or any kind of depth information that iOS can use to split the background into many layers. You can crop any image to work with Depth Effect if the subject you want to focus on isn’t clearly visible by default. 

That’s all you need to know about getting the lock screen time behind your wallpaper on iOS 16. 

Related: How to Get Old Notifications View Back on iPhone on iOS 16 With ‘List View’

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