3 Ways for Hiding Apps on Your Android Device

Stay protected in case your device is lost or stolen

Hiding apps on an Android device might seem a little sneaky, but in truth, it’s a great way to ensure that if your device is lost or stolen, your personal and private information will be safe. The Android operating system doesn’t make it easy to hide your sensitive apps, but there are a few ways you can clear out the bloatware and keep your personal information from prying eyes.

The information below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

Why Would Anyone Want to Hide Apps on Android?

Hiding anything, even an app on your phone or tablet, is a way that people keep things safe or private. In the case of hiding apps, a person may choose to do that for a number of reasons. For example, someone may have family members that don’t believe in privacy. Hiding apps that contain sensitive information or communications is one way to protect your personal privacy.

Another reason people may choose to hide apps on their device is to protect information such as financial details, business secrets, or intellectual property from being compromised in the event their phone is lost or stolen.

Finally, some Android devices come loaded with bloatware that clutters the device. These useless applications can interfere with finding the apps you use most often, and can cause confusion or even slow your device down if they’re running constantly. Hiding these apps cleans up the user experience and can help your device perform better.

How to Hide Apps on Android

A series of screenshots that illustrate how to disable a system app on Android.

The first thing to know about hiding apps on an Android device is that there is not built-in way to keep your apps secret. That doesn’t mean you’re completely without options. Just that hiding your apps won’t be as easy (or as intuitive) as it could be. That said, one way to hide apps doesn’t really hide them at all.

Rather than hiding apps, disabling them can remove them from your App Drawer and stop them from using system resources. It’s easy to disable an app:

  1. On your device, go to Settings > Apps.
  2. Tap the app you would like to disable.
  3. On the App Info page, tap Disable.
  4. A confirmation message appears. If you’re sure you want to disable the app, tap Disable.
  5. The app is disabled, and will no longer appear in your App Drawer.

If you don’t see the app you want to disable, on the Apps screen, tap the three-dot menu in the upper right corner. Then choose Show system aps. But be careful when disabling system apps, as disabling some of them could cause system errors.

Use an App Hiding App for Non-System Apps

A series of screenshots of the Calculator Vault, Apex Launcher, and AppLock apps.

Apps that aren’t pre-installed on your device (that you download from the Google Play Store or other sources) can’t usually be disabled. Hiding those apps is a little more involved. You’ll need a third-party app to get it done.

Third-party app-hiding apps come in a bunch of different varieties. Some, like Calculator Vault, hide apps within a folder that’s disguised by another app. Sometimes this disguising app is fully functional, and sometimes it’s just a dummy app. The idea is that anyone looking for the apps you’re trying to hide isn’t likely to go more than surface deep during that search.

Other apps like Apex Launcher put a completely new skin (or interface) on your device, which includes secure folders that require a password to access where you can store the apps that you prefer to keep private. Or there are non-hiding app vaults like AppLock that don’t try to hide the fact that they are hiding apps. You set up a pin code to access whatever is stored in the vault, but the vault is visible to anyone that accesses your phone.  

App hiders are a great way to secure apps you don’t want others to access. Just take a some time to review a few of them before you make a final decision about which one to use, as each will have different features and requirements to work.

Hiding Apps in Secure Folders

A screenshots from a Samsung Galaxy Device showing the Security Folder.

Some Android phones, like some in the Samsung Galaxy line, may also have the ability to hide apps (as well as pictures, documents, and other files) within a secure folder. Like an app vault, a secure folder requires a pin number or biometric security key to open. Anyone accessing your device will need that key in order to access anything hidden in the secure folder.

Setting up a secure folder on a Galaxy device is simple. Just go to Settings > Biometrics and security > Secure Folder and then follow the prompts to set the folder up and give it a security code. Once it’s all set, you’ll find the Secure Folder in your App Drawer.

Hiding apps on an Android device isn’t as intuitive as it could be, but you do have some options, so lock up your sensitive information. Then you know it’s safe from anyone with unauthorized access to your phone.