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How to lock folders on Android?

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Someone recently said that smartphones are nowadays extensions of us, not just a mere tool. And these “extensions” are seldom shared with many people. They hold many private photos, videos, files of any other type. Now, there are well-known security measures to lock your device but if you want to go the extra mile, you can use various ways to hide files and prevent access to apps. Today, we’ll explain how to lock folders on Android and showcase some less-known built-in ways to do so without needing an extra app on your phone. Check the steps below.

How do you lock files on Android?

1. Use system resources

Whenever there’s some task to be done, users will gravitate towards the built-in solutions on their Android devices. And, luckily, for this particular task, almost every OEM (if not all) offers some solution. Albeit, they are often a bit different in general, they bring the same functionality.

For Samsung, there’s the Secure Folder. For Xiaomi, you can rely on File Manager’s Hidden Files. OnePlus brings a Lock Box. Stock Android OEMs usually come with Files by Google that offer the same functionality.

Basically, whatever smartphone you use that is released relatively recently, there’s a built-in solution. Below, we explain how to lock folders on different Android devices.

Here’s how to use Secure Folder on Samsung:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Open Biometrics and security.
  3. Tap Secure Folder.
  4. Log in with your Samsung Account. If you don’t have one, make sure to create it beforehand.
  5.  Select the Lock type and disable or enable fingerprint access.
  6. After that, you’ll go straight to Secure Folder settings. But, to start the app, navigate to App Drawer and open Secure Folder from the list of available apps.
  7. There you can select to lock your Files, Gallery, or any other app for maximum privacy. Or, from the 3-dot menu, you can select certain files and add them.

The procedure is slightly different on OnePlus and Xiaomi (Redmi and Poco, too) devices. Yes, Xiaomi has the App Locker and Second Space tools. OnePlus has Parallel Apps. But to hide folders and files on these Android devices, you’ll need to use their File Managers.

Once you open File Manager, look for Hidden Files on Xiaomi and Lock Box on OnePlus. Once you configure them, you can hide all your files or password-protect them.

2. Use third-party apps

There are a plethora of useful third-party apps, too. Most of them focus on hiding photos and videos, like Calculator by FishingNet that utilizes a nifty vault hidden behind a simple calculator app. Most of them have AES Encryption and are rather simple to use. Just don’t forget your PIN or password since resetting it is usually not as simple as on the built-in solutions.

Here are some apps we can recommend so check them out to learn more and make your choice:

Our personal favorite is Files by Google because it’s rather simple to use and it’s easy to locate and configure the Safe Folder feature. Not to mention that you can place any type of file in it, not just photos and videos.

If you have the Google Pixel, you can use Google Photos Locked Folder to pin-secure photos and videos. You can find this option in Library > Utilities > Locked Folder.

3. Try Second Space on MIUI

Love it or hate it, Xiaomi’s MIUI was one of the early adopters of mighty good features back in the day. Although it lacks stability and optimization, it doesn’t lack features. One exquisite feature that we definitely like to see on more devices is Second Space. Basically, it uses the same Google Account and user profile to create two separate interfaces.

One is your regular and the other is completely stock, with all apps installed but not configured. And the best thing about it is that you can set different lock types for each profile.

For example, the left-hand fingerprint unlocks the regular profile while the right-hand fingerprint unlocks the second, stock profile. Like having two different phones in your pocket since all files on the second profile are stored separately.

Yes, you can do something similar on most other devices by creating two user profiles with different Google Accounts, but it’s not as useful or innovative. You can find Second Space in the Security app on any MIUI-based device.

There are many apps that simulate all of the above-mentioned features on any device. Although, many of them are not free.

That should do it. Thank you for reading and tell us what app or service you use to secure your files away from prying eyes. You can do so in the comments section below.

Picture of Aleksandar Ognjanovic

Aleksandar Ognjanovic

Managing editor at Mobile Internist. @lemmingspain My fascination with mobile technology, particularly Android and iOS, began years ago and continues today. I'm captivated by the constant evolution in the smartphone industry and its impact on our daily lives, always anticipating the next big innovation. That’s the main reason why I found myself writing instructive content on the subject for users who are not as familiar with all the bells and whistles.
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