If you want to give your phone to someone else, it might be a good idea to block them from opening your apps. WhatsApp, Gmail, and the Picture Gallery can all contain private content that you may want to keep to yourself. But fear not – you can protect sensitive information from prying eyes with a feature called app lock.
Several smartphone brands offer the app lock feature as part of their custom Android skin. Below we’ve explained how to use the app lock feature for the most popular Android skins. But what if your phone is running standard Android that still doesn’t get the app lock feature? Well, we have addressed your concerns as well and will show you how to work around this issue.
Use the built-in app lock feature
As mentioned earlier, you might not even have to look for a third-party app in case your smartphone is made by some of the manufacturers listed below. Using the built-in app lock feature is also inherently more secure than opting for a third-party tool.
How to use app lock on Samsung smartphones
Using the Samsung App Lock
Lower and mid-range Samsung devices may come pre-installed with their own app lock app called S Secure. It can be accessed from the following menu. If you don’t see this option, click here to check out the other method.
- to open the settings.
- Scroll down to Advanced features.
- Look for an option called Lock and mask apps.
If you don’t see this option, you’ll need to download the S Secure app from the Google Play Store.
- Once the app is installed, check again and you should Lock and mask apps Option – tap on it.
- Set the switch to on.
- You will now see an option to choose between a pattern, a PIN, a password and Face Unlock.
- Choose the option you want and set it up.
- Once the lock type is set, tap Blocked apps.
- Since you just set it up, the screen is blank. Tap the Add Option in the top right corner.
- You will now see a list of apps with a check box.
- Select the apps you want to lock.
- Go back and you will now see the selected apps on the Locked Apps screen.
- Go back to the app carousel and you will now see a lock icon next to the app you selected.
Lock apps with Samsung Secure Folder
Depending on where you live and which smartphone model you are using, the app lock feature may not be available to you. Chances are, your device has a feature called Samsung Secure Folder instead. This feature allows you to save apps, pictures, and other files in the secure folder. This is shielded from your main account by a separate code. You cannot even access the data in the secure folder from outside with a USB cable and a PC.
How to Access the Secure Folder;
- to open the settings.
- Tap Biometrics and security.
- Tap Secure folder.
Using the secure folder means you will have to set up WhatsApp or other apps completely again. Notifications are sent from the secure folder to your main profile. A luxurious settings menu makes it easy to set the privacy options you want. In return, you get system-level protection, which makes it difficult for even resourceful spies.
How to use app lock on OnePlus smartphones
If you have a OnePlus smartphone, your device already has its own app lock function. Here’s how you can activate it.
- to open the settings.
- Tap on Utilities.
- Tap App locker.
- Select a screen lock method.
- Choose how you want the lock screen to show notifications, then tap Done.
- This will open the app locker menu. Tap on the option that says Add apps.
- Select the apps you need from the list.
- Go back and you will see the selected apps in the list.
How to use app lock on Xiaomi / Poco smartphones
If you have a Xiaomi / Poco / Redmi device that is running MIUI, you can enable the app lock feature this way.
- to open The settings, scroll down and tap Apps
- Tap on App lock.
- You’ll see an option to turn on the feature.
- To make life easier, Xiaomi pre-selects apps that it thinks you are likely to want to block.
- Tap turn on.
- If your phone has a lock code, you will be asked to enter it now.
- The next screen will show you a list of apps that can be protected – select everything and tap Use app lock.
- On the next screen, you may be asked to enter your Mi account credentials. However, it is not mandatory.
- Tap on Not now.
- On the next screen, you’ll need to set a PIN to access locked apps. You can choose a PIN, pattern, or password.
How to use app lock on Huawei smartphones
In order to use the app lock feature on Huawei devices, you need to do this.
- Open Settings and go to security.
- Tap on App lock.
- You will now be asked to choose an app lock password. Choose between your existing lock screen password or a custom PIN.
- Enter the new PIN. Once you’ve enrolled your fingerprint, you can use it to unlock apps on the next screen.
- You will now see a list of apps that can be blocked. Select the ones you want.
How to use app lock on Oppo / Realme smartphones
- If you have an Oppo or Realme smartphone, the process for activating the app lock function is the same.
- Open Settings and select privacy.
- In the Privacy menu, select the option App lock.
- You will now be asked to set up a data protection password. Choose a password of your choice and tap Next.
- You will now see a list of the apps that are preselected to be locked. Select the apps you want to lock.
- If biometric methods are enabled, you can select them on the next screen.
Use a launcher that supports App Lock
If your smartphone does not have a built-in app lock function, you can switch to a launcher that supports this function. This is also an option for devices with standard Android. If you don’t want to miss out on the standard Android UI, you’ll have to look for other options.
Our choice for a launcher that supports the app lock feature is Apex Launcher. Download and install Apex Launcher from the Google Play Store.
Run Stock Android? Download an App Lock app from the Google Play Store
If your phone is running standard Android, the best option left to you is to download and install a dedicated app-locking app. One of the better apps I’ve come across is from Norton – the maker of the popular antivirus tool. The app is called Norton LifeLock and can be installed from the Google Play Store.
- After installing the app, go through the setup process.
- You may need to grant multiple permissions including view over other apps, and Enable accessibility.
- Define a blocking method (pattern on PIN).
- You can choose the apps that you want to lock.
Create a user or guest account
If you’re not too familiar with a third-party app, the only thing left to do is to use the Guest Mode feature on Android.
In order to activate this you have to do this.
- Open settings.
- Tap Multiple Users.
- Turn on the switch.
- Tap Add Guest.
That’s it. From now on, anytime you need to give your phone to someone else, you can go to guest mode and that person won’t have access to your personal files and apps. You have your own account or you don’t have a Google account at all. You are only allowed to install apps from the Play Store and not make calls, send text messages or access other people’s data. This also includes your apps, of course. If you set it up as a user rather than a guest, you can even regularly give the phone to someone else who can also save their data on it.
If you’re still reading this article, thank you! With that in mind, we’d like to know if you found the steps above useful. If so, please let us know in the comments section below. If you know other methods of locking apps, you can say this out loud too.
This article was extensively updated in June 2021. Older comments have been retained.