how to set lock screen and security options on galaxy s3

With NFC and all your personal information, its time to keep your Galaxy S3 safe from potential thieves and peeping neighbors. 

It is much more convenient not to use security options on your Samsung Galaxy S III (S3) or other Android phone. However, this is sort of like playing Russian roulette with your data and personal information.

Imagine if you lost your phone and someone was able to access everything inside. What would you lose? What would the “ripple effects” be? Could your bank information be compromises? Your credit? In today’s day and age we just can’t take a chance of our sensitive information falling into the wrong hands.

Fortunately, the Galaxy S3 offers some easy and powerful built-in tools to help keep you phone, your information and your peace of mind safe and secure.

The Lock screen

Security starts with the Lock screen.  If someone can pick up your phone and turn it on and immediately have access to all your data – you have not security enable. You might as well just give your wallet to a stranger on the street.

To access Lock screen security, just:

  1. Pull down the Notification drawer
  2. Tap the Settings icon
  3. Scroll down to Security 

settings app  security options

The top item under Security is Screen security. Initially, Screen lock is set to Swipe – meaning that you just swipe across the screen to unlock the phone.

Touch the Screen lock tab and you see the following options:

  • Swipe – Just Swipe across the device to unlock it
  • Motion  - Just tilt the Galaxy S3 forward to unlock it
  • Face unlock – See this article about using facial recognition to unlock
  • Face and Voice – Uses the Face unlock features but adds a level of  vocal recognition as well
  • Pattern – Select a pattern of lines between dots to unlock
  • PIN – Select a  four digit PIN to unlock the phone
  • Password – Select a Password to unlock the phone
  • None – No security at all

screen lock options  PIN security

Next to each option is also the level of security provided with Swipe and Motion offering the least amount of security and Password offering the highest security.

After experimenting with all of these, I eventually settled on PIN security as being the most convenient and accurate and offering at least some security to the device.

Using the With swipe lock option

Once you set your Security option for the Lock screen, you will see the option to put a check mark in a box that says With swipe lock. This allows you to still have the cool rippling of the water on the Lock screen. You swipe across and then input your PIN or use the Face unlock feature.

Swipe with lock checked

Lock screen options

Choosing the unlock method is just one of the choices you have with regards to your Lock screen. The Galaxy S3 has many more options from which you can choose. To access these, go back to the Security options and scroll to Lock screen options.

Lock screen options  lock screen shortcut icons

To enable Lock screen Shortcuts, make sure the button is in the ON position. These allow you to have the shortcut icons on the Lock screen as we talk about in this tutorial.

You can set the Information ticker to put news or stock info on the Lock screen by turning the switch to the ON position. You then need to set your country and your news ticker options on the following screens.

information ticker on  information ticker options

To enable Camera quick access, make sure that switch is in the ON position. When this is enabled, you have to hold your Galaxy S3 straight when you are on the Lock screen, then you tap and hold the screen and rotate the device (all at the same time) to open the Camera. This is as cumbersome as it sounds and I found it to not be particularly useful.

You can have a Clock on your Lock screen and/or show a Dual clock when roaming by checking off the next box and turning the switch to the ON position.

  • To show weather on the Lock screen, just check off the Weather box.
  • Similarly, if you want the Ripple effect when you swipe the screen, put a check in the next box.
  • To show  Help text on the Lock screen, just put a check in that box.

The last box is intriguing – it is entitled Wake up in lock screen. When this is checked you can set a series of audible Wake up commands for your phone.  You can set up to four Wake-up functions:

  • Unlock
  • Check for missed calls
  • Check for missed messages
  • Open Camera
  • Check schedule
  • Play music
  • Record Voice

wake up options  choose wake up options

Once you set your options, from the Lock screen just speak the command you have set and it will be initiated. Remember, however, that if you have  a PIN or other security feature enabled, you need to still “unlock” the phone before the command can be initiated.

So, for example, I set one of the audible commands to be Open Camera. When I got to the Lock screen, I said “Open Camera” and I then was taken to the screen to put in my PIN and only then did the Camera app open.

Set Lock automatically feature

One user adjusted option is just how long you want your Galaxy S3 to wait before it goes into Lock mode – requiring whatever security you have set up to take effect.

If you choose to Lock the device immediately – each time the screen shuts off you will have to input your PIN or use security to get back in.  I like to choose 5 minutes as a good amount of time to Lock automatically.

choose the lock automatically tab  choose when to lock screen

Lock instantly with power key

When this feature is enabled, each and every time you shut off the screen wit the Power key – as opposed to just letting the screen go blank – it will lock the device requiring whatever security you have enabled to use the device again.

Vibrate on screen tap

Some people prefer haptic feedback when putting in their PIN or tapping the screen in any way – just check this box to enable this feature.

Owner information

This one requires a bit of thinking. If your device is locked, having Owner information really doesn’t help you. However, if you check the box that says Show owner info on lock screen, this can be helpful.

Imagine that you lose your phone and it is locked. When someone finds your phone, what will they do? A good Samaritan might try to look for the owner information to return the phone. So, if you check the box that says Show owner info on home screen and then put your name and some information – it will show up when they try to turn on the phone.

type in owner information  owner info displayed on screen

TIP: Put a phone number and reward statement on the Lock screen, and perhaps the person who finds your phone will call you and return the phone. Remember, however, to not put the phone number associated with your Galaxy S3 – as that won’t really do a lot of good!

Encryption options

The next Security options have to do with Encryption. Encryption adds an added level of security to protect your data and information. If you choose to encrypt the device, you will receive a warning that the process takes over an hour and that your phone needs to be charged to at least 80%.

You can also Encrypt your SD card which will then  require a Password to decrypt it each time it is connected. You have choices with regards to the SD card to encrypt new files, all files and/or exclude multimedia files.

Password options

To make passwords visible, put a check in the box under Passwords. The issue with this is that if someone were looking over your shoulder, they might see the letters or numbers you input. The challenge is that if you don’t have the box checked, you need to be pretty sure you are typing the correct letters or numbers since you won’t be able to see them as you type.

Device administration

Here, you can set up Device administrators and allow Unknown sources. Putting a check next to Unknown sources allows you to download and install non-Google Play market apps on the Galaxy S3. For example, a manufacturer might have a specific app, let’s say for their Bluetooth headset.  If the app is not in Google Play, you would need to download it from the manufacturer. Checking this box allows you to do that – but it comes with a security risk since it is not a Google Play approved app.

Credential storage

The Galaxy S3 will store certain collected credentials the more you use the phone. You can tap on the Trusted credentials tab to see all of your trusted credentials stored in the phone.

To allow the installation of certificates from device storage tap on the Install from device storage tab – but it is likely you will get a message saying that there is no certificate file found.

To clear all of your credentials – just tap on the Clear credentials tab.

Wrap up

As you can see, there are lots of Security options for your Galaxy S3. You can have your phone wide open for the world to see or you can lock it down tighter than a drum.  The choice is really yours.

Obviously, using some security is what we would recommend in order to safeguard your personal information. Most of us don’t need to encrypt our data – but some of us do. Most of us should have at least a PIN or use the Face unlock for more security than just Swipe or Motion which really don’t offer any security at all.

Be smart and be safe. You never want to lose your phone – but phones can be replaced. Personal information, when lost, can have a much more devastating effect on your well-being. Experiment with the various security options until you find a good balance that works for you, isn’t too cumbersome and protects your information.


Reader comments

How to set lock screen and security options on Galaxy S3


PIN + Cerberus + Encryption = not too worried about it.

I haven't encrypted my SD card since it just has my music collection on it. Easily replaced.

If someone finds my phone and tries to brute force the PIN, I get a picture of them emailed to me. At that point I can send them messages, annoying sirens, figure out their GPS coords, shut the phone down, wipe it and so on. Cerberus is really great. Totally worth the money.

I have to agree with this. I can't tell you how many former iOS users I sold on Android simply by demoing the "try to break into my, now I have your picture" Cerberus demo. It always gets a good laugh because no matter what, the picture always comes out looking like they really are a criminal. I can't explain it, something about the upward angle and the usual scowl. It's also fun to show the video, audio capture as well.

Thanks for the article. I had no idea the phone could do so much for security. I really like the voice commands from the lock screen feature. facial recognition works surprisingly well.

Is there an option to use both the swipe unlock and the PIN or pattern security where you still need to swipe to unlock the phone every time the screen goes blank, but you also swipe and enter a pattern after a certain amount of time or you press the power to turn off the screen? This is how it was on my DroidX. I had to swipe to unlock the screen every time, but after 15 minutes I would also have to enter a pattern.
Right now on my S3 I have to swipe and enter my pattern if it has been more than 10 minutes or I pressed the power button, but if I just let the screen time out and then press the home button, it takes me right back to where I was, no need to swipe. Granted, I did this with a 3rd party app on the X, but I feel like I'm missing something obvious on the S3... I also don't want to have to enter a pattern or pin every time the screen goes dark. I see way too many iphone users doing that and it would drive me crazy.

I'm using Widget Locker to do this for me. 10 minute swipe to unlock, then after 10 min you have to enter the required digit combo after swiping.

You can do that on the S3.  Go to the security options and then to where it says Lock automatically.  You can set that to any time period from immediately to 30 minutes - meaning that you will only have to put in your PIN or pattern after that amount of time.

That way, say you choose 30 minutes, the screen will go blank, but you will only need to swipe to unlock within that 30 minute time frame. If you don't use the phone in those 30 minutes, then you will need to input the PIN or pattern.

Thats not what he asked (and your description is wrong). If you set the time interval to something like 30 minutes, then any time up to that 30 minute mark the phone will be "unlocked" simply by pressing the power or home button, and it will NOT show any swipe screen it will just dump you on to whatever you had open before you turned the screen off.

This pisses me off to no end, my old-n-busted fascinate with stock touchwiz did this beautifully but the S3 with this fancy ass touchwiz ux doesn't.

As long as you have the "with swipe lock box checked in the security settings it will work just as described

If so then there must be something special about my Verizon S3 (and the other poster's), because it certainly does not work like that. the "with swipe lock" works only after the PIN lock has kicked in, which happens after that timeout delay (defeating the purpose of enabling swipe alongside PIN locking). Im not blaming you since its obviously a samsung problem, but you might want to do a little more research.

+1 to Joebob

I want to swipe unlock every time the screen goes blank. As it is set now,if it hasn't been more than 10 minutes, or I haven't pressed the power button to turn off the screen and lock the device, then I press the home button and boom I'm back to whatever I was doing last, no swipe needed. I too am on a Verizon S3

Someone above suggested an app I will have to look into!

Thank you AC and Gary for a great article!

I knew i wasn't alone on this. The thing that irks me is it's a trait i noticed on several of the "leaked" interim builds of Touchwiz for the Fascinate, but never on the "latest" build of touchwiz, which kind of seemed to me like it was a bug that Samsung avoided when they could. Now that its front and center on the S3 and there arent any good newer phones to ape a better Touchwiz APK from, we have to either put up with it or find an app that isn't too obnoxious.

The behavior you describe is exactly what I desire. I have an AT&T S3 with a pattern screen lock. I do not have the "With swipe lock" option checked. I have the phone set to set automatically lock in 30 minutes. The "Lock instantly with power key" is also not checked.

Regardless of whether I use the power key or let the screen time out, I am forced to swipe to unlock each and every time. For me this is redundant and counter to the functionality I had on my Galaxy Nexus.

It's interesting that our phones are behaving exactly the opposite fashion. Can you share your settings? Love this thread. I thought there was something wrong with my software!

Sounds like you have some serious hate going on. Either purchase this device so you too can ebjoy the thrills of the Galaxy S3 or just go back to your iphone forums we already know it's pretty boring over in those neck of the woods...

I'm left wondering how one can "ebjoy the thrills" of the SGSIII. How can you misspell something as simple as "enjoy", especially given the fact that your only access to the Internet is through your SGSIII which has autocorrect? Not only that, but what thrills? It's a phone! You want thrills, get on a roller coaster, see a movie, jump from a moving vehicle, etc. How sad your life must be that you think having a smartphone is a "thrill".

No, we don't get paid by Samsung.  This is the hottest device on the planet now, lots of new users coming over to Android and we are just trying to help people get the most out of their phone.

My time tends to get shifted from platform to platform and device to device as they get released, so I have articles on HTC Sense, lots on iPhone and iPad and a bunch on PlayBook after that got released. If you have  a particular device you are using that isn't being covered - just ask and we will get some articles up if they are not already there.

WOW...The things we find out about this device on a daily basis is clearly an exact measure of how much care was placed into the software of this device. Look around folks their is NO device that can compare from a software standpoint. Samsung is BOSS....

Cerberus is easily one of the best apps I ever purchased. From taking pictures due to wrong passwords to phone and sms histories and being able to listen to the surroundings with the open mic; this app is an android must have if your phone is ever lost or stolen.

Ok so I have my security set to swipe and a pin. I have it set to 5 mins to lock. I set "outgoing call conditions" to "even when device is locked" but I guess because theres a pin you have to enter the pin first before you can make the call. Theres got to be an easier way to secure the phone with a pin and use a bluetooth headset.

Any ideas? Am I missing something?

How do I lock the screen in ways other than pressing the power button on the side, or waiting for it to time out?
I want to disable the power button so when I press it won't lock the screen anymore, because I occasionally accidentally press it. So I'd uncheck 'lock instantly with power key'. But then I don't want to have to wait for it to lock the screen only when it times out.
Is there a way to lock it through the menus or a way to say "Lock" to the phone and get it to lock?

Do you know if it is possible to make bluetooth phone calls on a handsfree unit while the unit is locked with a PIN?

can anyone tell me how I can set my Samsung S3 to pattern unlock and also trackmy phone. I have looked everywhere including security and lock screen options. I have jelly Bean 4.1.1

I own a SamSung Galaxy S3 Model SGH-1747M running 4.1.1. We
encountered a major problem with the unit. We could not make outgoing
Bluetooth calls from our phones to our handsfree units. The units
were a Blueant S3 and a Motorola T505. The reason was that S Voice
could not start up with the phone locked with a PIN. A PIN was
critical on our phones as we use them for business and we have many
documents and contacts that we don't want easily accessible. After
reading countless forums and spending hours searching for an answer
(over 14), I am happy to report that a solution has been found.

By using Tasker and Secure Settings:
Profile->Bluetooth Connected
Task->PlugIn->Secure Settings->Password/Pin->Disabled
I then added an Exit Task
Task->Plugin0>Secure Settings->Password/Pin->Enabled (Set to my old
PIN number)

I have set this up for both of my BlueTooth units and it works like a
hot damn! I just wish someone would have posted this before I had
spent so much time searching for a solution. Hopefully this helps

Hi there, I have tried to follow these advise for locking my screen on my new Galaxy S3, but when I go to Security, there is no option for Lock Screen. On my menu it starts with Encryption, not with Screen Lock.

Anyone who know how to go about this??

i am also having the same problem i dont know how i deleted pattern lock option some1 please help us :(

Recently i have put on my screen pattern to lock it.
Now i want to change or to take it out but i can not.The options to change my lock screen thera are not active.It's say <>.
What can i do?

I am trying to set a pattern lock screen for my friends phone, I have set it in the security options but try as I might it always shows the swipe to unlock screen and never the pattern screen. This is an AT&T device running 4.1.2.

Is there another setting I need to dig out?

Thanks again for all your help.