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A Complete Guide to Customizing Apple CarPlay

If you’re an iPhone user with a compatible car dashboard, you’re likely already familiar with Apple CarPlay.

This smart integration extends many of your iPhone apps to the larger screen in your vehicle, including essential ones like Apple Maps, Google Maps, and your favorite music and podcast apps. While CarPlay works well out of the box, did you know that you can customize it to better suit your preferences? Let’s dive into a complete guide on how to make the most of Apple CarPlay.

1. Getting Started with CarPlay

Before we delve into customization, ensure that your car supports CarPlay and that your iPhone is connected. Once that’s done, here’s how you can tailor your CarPlay experience:

2. Switching Between App Drawer and Widgets

In the lower corner of the CarPlay interface, you’ll find an icon that changes shape depending on the screen you’re on. It usually looks like a combination of black squares and rectangles. Tap this icon to switch between the app drawer and the main CarPlay screen with widgets. The app drawer typically includes a mapping app and a media app. To get a specific app in full-screen mode, select it from the left-hand sidebar or the app drawer. This allows you more options, such as zooming in and out of the map. To return to the widgets, use the icon in the lower left corner.

3. Fine-Tuning CarPlay Settings

Tap on the Settings app in the app drawer or sidebar (it resembles several gears). Here are some key settings you can adjust:

  • Driving Focus: This acts like a special “do not disturb” mode for when you’re in the car. You can automatically enable Driving Focus when CarPlay is connected. Configure these settings via your iPhone.

  • Announce Messages: Decide whether Siri should read out messages as they arrive on your phone. You can toggle this feature on or off based on your preference.

  • Siri Options: Under Siri and Suggestions, explore additional Siri settings. For instance, you can choose whether Siri sends messages you dictate with or without confirmation.

  • Appearance and Wallpaper: Customize how CarPlay looks on your dashboard screen. You can enable dark mode permanently and choose from 11 different wallpaper options. While the wallpapers aren’t highly detailed, you won’t spend much time staring at them anyway.

  • Show Album Art: This toggle switch controls the Now Playing screen (found in the app drawer). The Now Playing screen takes over when you’re playing media in any app, providing a consistent look for playback controls.

Remember, CarPlay is all about making your driving experience safer and more convenient. So take a few minutes to personalize it according to your preferences, and enjoy a smoother ride with your favorite apps at your fingertips! 🚗📱


  1. A Complete Guide to Customizing Apple CarPlay1
  2. How to Customize the Apple CarPlay Screen2
  3. How to Add a CarPlay Wallpaper in iOS 143


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