How to Create a Locked Folder in Google Photos

Password protect photos and videos on Android

What to Know

  • Locked Folder is the only built-in password protection option.
  • Use the Google Photos app: Library > Utilities > Locked Folder.
  • Lock and unlock with your fingerprint or device PIN.

This article explains how to password-protect Google Photos videos and images through the Locked Folder mobile app feature. It's available for Pixel 3 devices and later.

Can You Password-Protect a Google Photos Album?

No, Google Photos doesn't provide a way to lock photo albums behind a password. All photos added to your account, whether in an album or not, are reachable through a search, will show up when choosing an image from another app, and are otherwise freely available when browsing your Google Photos account.

The only exception is if you use the Locked Folder feature. It's a single folder stored on your device which will hide any videos or pictures you place in it. It's available only in the mobile app because it's a local feature—nothing you put in it is backed up online or saved elsewhere.

Album importing isn't allowed, but you can move as many photos and videos as you want into this password-protected folder, assuming you have the local storage to contain them.

How to Create a Locked Folder in Google Photos

Google Photos doesn't technically have lockable folders to hide your files. Instead, there's a special feature aptly called Locked Folder, available in the Utilities area of the Google Photos Android app that serves a similar function as a photo vault app.

Here's how it works:

  1. Tap the Library tab at the bottom of the Google Photos app, and then choose Utilities at the top of the next screen.

  2. Select Locked Folder, and then Set up. If you don't see that, choose Get started instead, and follow the on-screen directions.

    Google Photos Android app with Library, Utilities, and Locked Folder highlighted
  3. Provide your fingerprint or PIN to open it. If you've never used your fingerprint or PIN to secure your device, you may need to set these options up before you can use them.

    You can't set a separate password for the Locked Folder and your device as a whole. The PIN or fingerprint you're using to open the folder now will be what you'll use to access the password-protected files in the future, too. Change your screen lock password if you want to use a different PIN for Locked Folder.

  4. Select Move items, and then tap the photos and/or videos you want to move into Locked Folder.

    The search tool on this page works the same way as it does elsewhere in the app. You can browse by person, locate just your selfies or screenshots, etc.

  5. Press Move when you're ready to relocate the selected items, and then confirm the prompt by selecting Move once more.

You can close the app or back out of Locked Folder to secure the items you've saved there. To access the locked photo folder in the future, repeat the first three steps above.

To move the photos and videos back into your regular Google Photos account, open Locked Folder, select the items and choose Move. The Delete option you see from that same screen will permanently remove the selection from your phone. Moving the photos out of the Locked Folder means you can share them and even back up your Google Photos.

Items you add to Locked Folder don't show up on Chromecast or smart displays like Nest Hub, but it might take up to an hour for them to disappear from those sources after password-protecting them.

How to Save Directly to Locked Folder

Moving private items into a Locked Folder isn't your only option. If you don't want to risk the picture or video getting backed up to Google Photos before moving it out manually, store it directly in this folder when you take the picture/video.

It's easy: Before capturing whatever you want to lock away, press-and-hold the photo gallery button (it's a thumbnail of the last picture you took), and choose Locked Folder. In some Android versions, you instead need to tap the folder icon at the top right to see this option. Once you capture it, it will go into this password-protected area automatically.

Locked Folder Limitations

This feature has several limitations to ensure your photos and videos remain private. The following features are disabled for content in a Locked Folder:

  • Add photos to an album or photo book
  • Back up the photos/videos online
  • Edit items or revert changes made before an item was moved to Locked Folder
  • Share within Google Photos or with other apps
  • Move items to Trash (the only option is permanent deletion)
  • View photos or videos your device can't display in original format or resolution

Keep in mind since Locked Folder contents aren't backed up to your Google account, they are inaccessible from other phones and computers, and they will be removed if you factory reset your Pixel or clear the Google Photos app data.

  • How do I back up Google Photos?

    To back up your photos with Google Photos using the Google Photos iOS or Android app, launch the app, tap Menu (three lines) > Settings > Back up & Sync, and then toggle on the backup feature. In some versions of Android, you may need to tap your profile picture > Photos > Settings > Backup & Sync > and then toggle the backup feature On. Or, from your profile image, choose Turn on backup.

  • How do I download photos from Google Photos?

    To download a photo, open the photo, select More (three dots), and select Download. To download a batch of photos, choose the ones you want to download > More > Download. To download an entire album, open the album and choose More > Download all.

  • How do I upload photos to Google Photos?

    If you’re using Google Photos in a web browser, you can drag and drop images into Google Photos. Alternatively, launch Google Photos and select Upload. Navigate to the photo and select Open. Your photos will automatically upload on an Android device if you’ve enabled Back up & Sync. To enable this feature, tap your profile picture, select Photo Settings, and toggle on Back up & Sync.

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