The 8 Best Vault Apps of 2023

These apps let you hide your photos and videos and some even let you hide calls and texts

Vault apps are used for securing photos and other sensitive files should someone get their hands on your unlocked phone. Here are the nine best vault apps for keeping your personal photos and other data for your eyes only.

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For Locking Up Apps: AppLock by DoMobile

AppLock by DoMobile — For Locking Up Apps
What We Like
  • Disguise the app with a blank screen or error message.

  • Locks your favorite photo and messaging apps.

What We Don't Like
  • No password requirement (it uses your screen unlock code).

AppLock lets you password-protect apps, including social media, messaging, and gallery apps as well as incoming calls. Extra protections include an option to hide the icon from any home screen or add a cover to the app, such as an error message that says "Unfortunately, AppLock has stopped."

Applock is free, with no premium upgrades.

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Discreet Vault for iOS: Best Secret Folder

Best Secret Folder app for iOS
What We Like
  • Captures photos of anyone who tries to break in and record their location (if enabled).

  • Can't reset password.

  • Icon looks like a travel app.

What We Don't Like
  • You can have password sent to you by email.

  • Free version is ad-supported, which can be distracting.

The Best Secret Folder app icon even fooled us. Since it says BestSF and looks like a travel app, we initially thought it was bloatware. Once we realized our mistake, we chose an unlock option (pattern, PIN, password, or fingerprint) and entered the app. The interface, which looks like a bank vault, is fun if not subtle, and you can add a cover that looks like an empty folder if someone launches it. (We almost fell for that too.)

Other features include Snoop Stopper, which snaps a photo when someone inputs the wrong code, and the option to shut the app down when the phone is face down. You can send yourself the passcode for safekeeping, but the email mentions the app, which doesn't feel secure.

A pro plan ($1.99) takes away ads and includes compatibility with Google Drive, Dropbox, and Apple AirPlay.

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Gallery Lock (Hide Pictures) Android app
What We Like
  • Stealth Mode hides the launch icon.

  • The front-facing camera takes a photo after the third failed password attempt.

What We Don't Like
  • No separate password requirement (it uses your unlock code).

As its name spells out, Gallery Lock hides your pictures from would-be snoops. A stealth mode hides the app icon, and the camera takes a picture of anyone who inputs the wrong password three times in a row.

Gallery Lock is free, so features like break-in attempt tracking and stealth mode don't require an upgrade to a premium plan.

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Best for Ultra-Privacy: Keepsafe Photo Vault

Keepsafe website
What We Like
  • Doesn't show up on recently used apps list.

  • Can take photos from the app.

  • Uses military-grade encryption.

What We Don't Like
  • Automatically enrolls you in a free trial for the premium service.

This app from Keepsafe, a company known for its mobile VPN and other security products, hides your photos and also has a folder to store snapshots of your credit cards, ID cards, and passport for safekeeping. It also has break-in alerts, password-protected folders, and the ability to create a fake PIN that leads users to a decoy Keepsafe. A feature called Secret Door App disguises Keepsafe as a virus scanner or calculator. The app is available for iOS and Android.

The basic plan includes 200 photos, while the premium plan ($149.99 for life, $23.99 per year, or $9.99 per month) includes 5,000 photos, break-in attempt tracking, and the ability to restore deleted files. All users get a free trial for premium, but your plan reverts to basic if you don't choose to upgrade.

Download For:

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For Hiding Texts and Calls: Vault

Vault-Hide SMS, Pics & Videos, App Lock, Cloud backup Android app
What We Like
  • Hides texts and calls in addition to photos.

  • Double locked.

What We Don't Like
  • Lots of premium-only features.

  • Lets you use the sample pin code listed in app.

Like many apps discussed here, Vault won't show up in your recent app list and blow your cover. You can also set up two locks (a pattern followed by a pin code). Vault can hide photos, videos, texts, and calls.

The premium version ($29.99 per year or $3.99 per month) has a stealth mode that hides the app icon, a camouflage app lock that hides apps in the vault, and a decoy vault to fool snoopers.

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Apple's Hidden Folder Feature for iOS
What We Like
  • Easy way to hide photos and videos from your main albums.

What We Don't Like
  • The Hidden folder is still accessible when the phone is unlocked.

Phones with iOS 8 and later can hide photos from their Moments, Years, and Collections view. Hiding sensitive photos prevents friends from accidentally (or not so accidentally) swiping past the photos you want them to see and stumbling upon an awkward selfie that's for your eyes only. However, it's not as secure as third-party vault apps, since hidden photos land in an album that's labeled hidden and isn't password protected.

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Built-in Option for Android: Archive Photos

Google Photos Archive Option in Android App
What We Like
  • Simple way to hide photos from your regular albums.

What We Don't Like
  • Photo archive is easy to find.

On Android, Google Photos has a similar feature. You can archive photos you'd like to keep private and access them in a hidden folder. Again, this moves private photos out of your regular stream, but it doesn't prevent someone from opening the archives when the phone is unlocked.

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Built-in Option for New Samsung Devices: Samsung's Private Mode and Secure Folder

Screenshots of Samsung's Private Mode feature
What We Like
  • Private Mode and Secure Folder are password protected.

What We Don't Like
  • Not available on all Androids.

Samsung has a more secure option called Private Mode, which enables you to hide photos and password-protect them. Newer Samsung Galaxy phones (S8 and up) have a feature called a Secure Folder, which uses the Samsung Knox security platform.

Opening a Secure Folder requires your Samsung account password, and you can also add extra layers of protection with a pattern, PIN, fingerprint, or iris scan.

More About Vault Apps

Vault apps keep your private photos, videos, and messages safe from prying eyes. To access the trove, you must input a password. In some cases, these apps are disguised as other types of apps, such as a calculator or calendar, to make them harder to detect. Other apps have a fake cover page that looks like an empty folder or an error message. Vault apps often don't show up in your recent apps, and you can block some from automatically adding an icon to your home screen.

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