How can I play music while my phone is locked?

Playing music on your phone while it is locked provides several benefits. Listening to music with a locked screen allows you to continue enjoying audio content while still protecting your privacy if someone else handles your phone. It also helps save battery life by keeping the screen off. Additionally, having a locked phone with music playing lets you easily slip your phone into a pocket or bag without interrupting playback or accidentally pausing the song.

Many people want the ability to play music with a locked phone so they can listen while commuting, exercising, doing chores, or any other hands-free activity. Keeping your phone locked also prevents accidental taps and swipes from interrupting your music. Overall, playing music with a locked phone gives you more control over your audio experience while maintaining security.

Determine Your Phone Model

The first step to activate lock screen music controls is to determine exactly which phone model you have. Major mobile operating systems like iOS and Android offer the ability to play music with the screen locked, but the specific steps depend on your device.

The two dominant mobile operating systems as of 2022 are Android and iOS, which run on phones from manufacturers like Samsung, Google, Apple, and others. Android holds over 70% of the worldwide market share across thousands of different phone models. iOS is found exclusively on Apple iPhones. Knowing whether you have an iPhone or Android phone is the first key piece of information needed.

Then you’ll want to pinpoint the specific model, such as iPhone 13, Samsung Galaxy S22, Google Pixel 7, etc. Newer phone models are the most likely to have full support for lock screen music playback and controls. The model dictates what steps are needed to activate the feature. So locate your phone model in the Settings or About menu before proceeding.

Activate Lock Screen Music Controls

The easiest and most direct way to control music playback on your locked device is to use the built-in music controls on the lock screen and Control Center. Both iOS and Android provide quick access to these controls while your phone is locked, allowing you to play, pause, skip tracks, adjust volume, and more without having to unlock your device.

On iOS devices, bring up the Control Center by swiping down from the top-right corner of the screen (iPhone X or later) or swiping up from the bottom of the screen (iPhone 8 or earlier). The music playback controls will be in the bottom-left. On Android, swipe down from the top of the screen to reveal the Quick Settings panel, which includes music controls. You can also double-press the power/lock key on many Android devices to quickly bring up music controls.

To enable full lock screen music controls on iOS, open the Settings app, tap “Control Center,” and make sure “Music” is enabled under “Include.” For Android, open Settings, choose Notifications, select your music app, and enable “Show player in Quick Settings.” This ensures the playback controls will be easily accessible on your lock screen whenever you are listening to music.


Use a Music App with Lock Screen Support

One of the easiest ways to play music with a locked screen is to use a music app that has built-in support for lock screen playback. Many popular music apps like Spotify, Google Play Music, and Amazon Music allow you to control music playback directly from the lock screen without having to unlock your phone.

The key is that the app needs to specifically support lock screen music controls. Not all music apps have this feature built-in. When selecting a music app, look for one that advertises full lock screen integration in its description or features list.

Having lock screen support means you’ll be able to pause, play, skip tracks, see what’s currently playing, and sometimes even queue up new songs – all without ever turning on the phone’s display. This allows you to conveniently listen to music and podcasts without draining your battery life or disrupting your focus if you’re trying to stay productive.

Utilize Voice Commands

Using voice commands with digital assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, and Cortana is a handy way to control your music playback when your phone is locked. These assistants allow you to use your voice to play, pause, skip tracks, adjust volume, and more, without having to unlock your device.

Some example voice commands include:

  • “Hey Google, play my workout playlist.”
  • “Alexa, turn the volume up.”
  • “Hey Siri, next song.”
  • “Cortana, pause the music.”

Make sure to enable access to your preferred music app like Spotify or Apple Music within your digital assistant’s settings. You’ll also want to allow voice commands when your phone is locked. Refer to your assistant’s help documentation for exact instructions.

Using a digital assistant can be a quick hands-free way to control your tunes without unlocking your device. Just speak up and let Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa or Cortana handle the music playback.

Get Notifications of Currently Playing Music

One convenient way to see what music is playing while your phone is locked is to enable notifications for your music apps. This allows notifications with the song title, artist, album cover image, and playback controls to appear on your lock screen.

To enable music notifications on iPhone, go to Settings > Notifications and tap the app you want notifications from, like Apple Music or Spotify. Make sure Show on Lock Screen and Sounds are enabled. You can also swipe left on a music notification when unlocked to access options like Show on Lock Screen.

On Android, open the music app’s settings and enable Show Media Notification. Then in Settings, go to Apps & Notifications > Notifications > Advanced Settings and ensure the music app has Show on Lock Screen enabled. Some Android skins like OnePlus and MIUI have additional lock screen and notification settings to check.

With notifications turned on, your lock screen will display the track and allow basic playback controls whenever music is playing in a supported app. Keep in mind that some music services require a paid subscription for lock screen notifications.

Use External Speakers or Headphones

Using external Bluetooth speakers or headphones can provide superior sound quality compared to your phone’s built-in speakers. External speakers and headphones often have larger drivers, more advanced audio components, and louder maximum volume. This results in richer bass, crisper treble, and an overall more immersive listening experience.

Pairing external Bluetooth speakers or headphones to your iPhone is a straightforward process. Here are the steps:

  1. Make sure the speaker or headphones are turned on and in pairing mode. Consult the device’s manual for specifics on enabling pairing mode.
  2. On your iPhone, open the Settings app and tap Bluetooth.
  3. Under Other Devices, you should see your speaker or headphones listed. Tap on the name to connect.
  4. If prompted, compare the passcode on your iPhone with the one displayed on your speaker/headphones and confirm they match. This will pair the devices.
  5. Once successfully paired, you will see “Connected” under the device name on your iPhone. You can now play audio and it will route to the external speaker or headphones.

The New York Times provides helpful recommendations on some of the best Bluetooth speakers and headphones to pair with your iPhone.

Enable Gesture Controls

One way to control your music playback while your iPhone is locked is through gesture controls. You can enable custom tap gestures to play, pause, skip tracks, adjust volume, and more. This allows you to control music playback just by tapping or swiping on your iPhone screen, even when locked.

To enable gesture controls on iPhone, go to Settings > Accessibility > Touch > AssistiveTouch. Here you can create custom gestures by tapping the “Create New Gesture” button. You’ll be prompted to draw the gesture on the screen that you want to assign to an action like play, pause, etc.

For example, you could set a single tap gesture to play/pause the current music track. Or a two finger tap to skip to the next song. You can create multiple custom gestures this way. Gesture controls utilize the iPhone’s built-in accessibility features to work even when the phone is locked.

There are also third party apps like Hands-free OSC that allow creating advanced music playback gestures tailored to your preferences (Source). With some configuration, gestures can provide quick and easy control over your music without needing to unlock your iPhone.

Use a Smartwatch for Controls

One easy way to control music playback while your phone is locked is by using a smartwatch like an Apple Watch or Wear OS watch. Most smartwatches have media controls that let you do things like play/pause, skip tracks, adjust volume, etc without needing to unlock your phone.

For example, on the Apple Watch you can open the Now Playing app to control whatever audio is playing on your paired iPhone. Swiping up will show playback controls like play/pause, skip, volume. You can also use the digital crown to turn the volume up or down (Source).

Similarly, Wear OS watches like those from Fossil and Mobvoi have built-in media controls when music is playing on your Android phone. Pressing the top button will toggle play/pause, and you can swipe left/right to change tracks. Volume can be adjusted by turning the watch crown.

So if you want quick access to your music while your phone stays locked in your pocket or bag, a smartwatch can be a convenient solution for on-the-go control.


In summary, there are several effective methods for playing music on a locked phone, depending on your device model and preferences.

The top recommendations are activating native lock screen music controls in your device settings, using a music app with built-in lock screen support like Spotify, and enabling gesture controls. With lock screen music controls, you can easily pause, play, and skip tracks without unlocking your phone. Music apps like Spotify allow you to keep listening to music even when your screen is off or locked. Gesture controls let you control music playback by waving your hand over the phone’s proximity sensor.

The key benefits for listeners are the ability to keep enjoying music without draining battery life by keeping your screen unlocked, as well as avoiding interruptions from notifications and accidental taps. Lock screen and gesture controls make it quick and easy to control your music on the go. Just be sure to adjust your settings to enable the desired features.

With the right setup, you can comfortably listen to music anywhere while keeping your phone’s screen locked and secure.

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