How to Hide Photos on Android Phones

Keep your pictures safe from prying eyes

If you have an Android phone, there are several ways to keep photos private. But different methods protect your pictures more than others. For example, some simply move images out of your stream, so that when you hand your phone to a friend or relative, those photos don’t display. The most secure apps, though, ensure images remain available only within the app and require authentication whenever the app is accessed.

Select one (or more!) of the five following methods to keep your pictures private on any Android phone.

Hide Pictures Using Google Photos's Archive Feature

Archive provides a quick way to move photos out of your main photo stream. However, anyone who has access to your phone can easily access archived photos, and archived photos will still display in albums and in search results. Consider Google Photos archive as a quick and easy way to move photos out of view, not a secure way to protect images you want to keep private.

If a person has access to your phone, they also have access to any archived images in Google Photos!

Photo of hand holding Android phone, with another hand covering the screen. Camera, Photos, Gallery, and CameraV icons displayed.

To hide your photos with this method:

  1. Open Google Photos on Android.

  2. Tap to select one or more images.

  3. Tap the three-vertical-dot menu in the upper-right corner.

  4. Tap Move to Archive. This groups selected photos with all other Archived photos.

    Archiving photos on Google Photos.

To access photos in Archive, tap the Library at the bottom right, then tap Archive.

Navigating to Archives in Google Photos.

Additional Options to Hide Photos on Android

Check with your Android device maker to see if they offer a way to secure images. For example, Samsung offers Secure Folder on devices that run Android Nougat 7.0 or newer, and Private Mode for phones that run older Android versions. Similarly, LG offers a Content Lock feature to protect images and videos on some devices. 

Once configured, these vendor-provided methods require a PIN, pattern, or password to access protected photos. In every case, these methods make your photos more private than the basic Google Photos archive feature.

Use Open Source Third-Party Apps to Hide Photos

Many privacy-focused professionals prefer open source applications over private, proprietary applications, since open source code can be reviewed. This allows programmers to review code to determine that a program isn't doing anything nefarious with your photos.

Easy to use: Simple Gallery Pro

Simple Gallery Pro: Photo Manager & Editor ($1.19 as of September 2020) is an open-source app intended to work on most Android devices and to provide an alternative to default Google apps. Simple Gallery Pro offers the ability to hide photos. You may protect hidden items or, if you like, access to the app, with a pattern, PIN, or fingerprint. The developer, Simple Mobile Tools, also offers several other apps, such as Camera and Simple File Manager Pro apps, that serve as open-source alternatives to various proprietary Android apps.

Simple Gallery: (left) PIN to access; (middle) shows "Hide folder" option; (right) Settings, with password protect visibility, app, and deletion displayed

Professional protection: CameraV 

CameraV provides a camera that takes pictures, as you would expect, and the app can save the pictures securely within the app. You can configure a passcode that must be entered to access the app and images.

CameraV is one of several apps overseen by the Guardian Project, which creates apps to serve mobile journalism and advocacy efforts. The app gives journalists (and others) a secure way to document sensitive activities, such as human rights violations, in potentially hostile places. Because of this, CameraV includes a panic option, which deletes all app contents immediately. Once deleted, you won’t have access to your photos, but the person who takes your phone won’t get them either. 

CameraV: (left) Set up, which prompts for Name, Email, and Password, (middle) Preferences, which allows you to ONLY use the built-in encrypted camera, (right) Panic mode, which prompts to swipe down to delete personal data.

Explore Other Android Vault Apps

Just as a real vault seeks to secure valuables you place in it, a vault app promises to protect your digital content. Typically, a vault app lets you select and place photos, videos, or other files into the app and then requires a PIN, passcode, fingerprint (or, in some cases, other biometric authentication, such as face recognition) for access.

A search of the Google Play Store for “Vault” will return a long list. To identify potential vault apps to try, look at the number of downloads as well as the star rating, both of which display in an app’s Play Store listing. In general, look for apps that have several million downloads and a rating of 4.5 or above. Tap “Read more” to see the app’s details to look for the “Updated on” date. Generally, prefer apps that have received one or more updates in the past 90 days, and exclude apps that haven’t been updated in the past year. 

See Lifewire’s The 9 Best Vault Apps of 2020, to learn more about four popular Android vault apps: AppLock by DoMobile, Gallery Lock (Hide Pictures), Keepsafe Photo Vault, and Vault-Hide SMS, Picks & Videos.

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