How to Lock Apps on Android

Lock a single app or all of them on Android to keep out curious eyes

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There are a few effective ways to lock specific apps on Android devices including guest accounts, screen pinning, third-party apps, and Samsung's Secure Folder. Learn how to lock apps on Android in the foreground or limit access to them altogether.

Instructions in this article apply to all smartphones and tablets running Android 7.0 (Nougat) and later. Upgrade your version of Android to follow along with this guide.

How to Lock Apps on Android With Screen Pinning

Screen pinning locks an app in open view. Attempting to close it or access the home screen prompts your lock screen security input.

To see which version of Android your device is running, navigate to the Settings and tap About Phone > Software Information.

For Android 9.0 Pie

To enable screen pinning on Android Pie:

  1. Open Settings and tap Security & location.

  2. Tap Advanced.

  3. Tap Screen pinning.

    Security & location, Advanced, and Screen pinning links in Android settings
  4. Tap the toggle to enable screen pinning.

    To get the most out of screen pinning and guest accounts, set a secure lock screen pin, password, or pattern beforehand.

  5. Tap Ask for PIN before unpinning to enable it for increased security.

    Ask for PIN before unpinning toggle to ON
  6. Tap the Overview icon (the square in the black bar at the bottom of your screen), then tap the app you wish to pin.

  7. Tap Pin.

  8. Tap Got it.

    Overview button, Got it button in Android
  9. Tap and hold Back and Overview simultaneously to unpin the app.

  10. Enter your pin, pattern, password, or biometric security option to unpin the screen.

  11. The app is unpinned.

For Android 8.0 Oreo and 7.0 Nougat

If using the previous versions of Android:

  1. Open Settings, then tap Lock Screen and Security.

  2. Tap Other security settings.

  3. Tap Pin windows.

  4. Tap the toggle to enable screen pinning.

  5. Tap the Ask for PIN before unpinning toggle to enable it.

  6. Tap Overview and open the app window wish to lock to the front.

  7. Tap the thumbtack in the lower-right corner, then tap OK.

    Pin icon and OK button on Android
  8. Tap and hold the Back and Overview icons to unpin the window.

  9. Enter your pattern, pin, password, or scan your biometric security option to unpin the app.

How to Lock Apps With a Guest Account on Android

To keep all of your apps, settings, and files out of view, enable a guest account before sharing your device with someone. A guest account functions the same as a regular account, but it uses separate instances of the applications on your device.

With a guest account enabled, none of your personal apps or information are accessible.

For Android Pie 9.0 and Oreo 8.0

To create a guest account in Android Pie and Oreo:

  1. Tap Settings, then tap System.

  2. Tap Advanced.

  3. Tap Multiple users.

  4. Tap Guest to switch the user account, or tap the gear icon to the far right to enable phone calls.

  5. Tap the toggle beside Turn on phone calls to enable it if you wish to continue receiving calls while the guest account is active.

  6. Tap OK when the dialog box appears.

  7. It's also possible to switch to a guest account by fully expanding your notification panel and tapping the user icon in the lower right section.

  8. Tap Guest to switch the user account.

For Android Nougat 7.0

To enable a guest account on Android 7:

  1. Go to Settings > Cloud and accounts > Users, then tap Guest.
  2. Swipe down to view your quick settings panel, then tap the user icon in the top right corner.
  3. Tap Guest.

Lock Apps on Android With Samsung's Secure Folder

With Secure Folder, you can protect selected apps by locking them with the security option of your choosing. If your device didn't come with Secure Folder and you're running Android 7 or higher, you can download it from Google Play or Galaxy apps.

Secure Folder comes pre-installed on Samsung's flagship devices, including the Galaxy S7/S7 Edge, Galaxy S8/S8+, Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy S9/S9+, etc.

  1. Tap Settings, then tap Lock screen and security.

  2. Tap Secure Folder.

    Lock screen and security, Secure startup buttons in Android settings
  3. Tap Lock type.

  4. Tap Select lock type, (or a biometric option if available).

  5. Select Pattern, Pin, or Password, then continue by entering your selection and confirming it.

    Lock type, Select lock type, and Pattern/PIN/Password options in Android settings
  6. Tap Secure Folder from your app drawer, then tap Add apps.

  7. Select the apps you wish to include in Secure Folder, then tap Add.

  8. Tap Lock in the upper-left corner.

    Secure Folder Add apps, Drive icon, Lock button on Android
  9. A brief message appears indicating Secure Folder is now locked. Attempting to access Secure Folder prompts the lock type you selected earlier.

  10. Enter your pattern, pin, password, or scan your biometric security option.

    Secure Folder locked message, and Enter PIN field on Android
  11. The app is unpinned.

How to Lock Apps on Android With Mobile Applications

Mobile tools such as App Lock and Security Master lock your apps and protect your files. Most apps that lock or protect your device's content require a few permissions and system privileges, such as displaying over other apps and accessibility usages.

How to Set a Password for Apps With Norton App Lock on Android

Norton App Lock by Symantec is a useful tool for protecting applications and private files stored on your device. Norton App Lock is free to download and supports Android 4.1 and up. You can restrict access to all apps or choose specific apps to lock:

  1. Go to Norton App Lock's Google Play page, then tap Install.

  2. Once installed, tap Open.

    Install and Open buttons in Google Play for Norton App Lock
  3. Review the License Agreement, Terms of Use, and the Privacy Policy, then tap Agree & Launch.

  4. Tap OK.

  5. Tap the Allow display over other apps toggle.

    Agree & Launch, OK, and Allow display over other apps toggle to ON
  6. Tap Setup.

  7. Tap Norton App Lock Service.

    Setup, Norton App Lock Service
  8. Tap the Use service toggle.

  9. Tap OK.

    Use service toggle to ON, OK button in Norton App Lock Service
  10. Draw an unlock pattern or tap Switch to Passcode, then enter a password.

  11. Draw your unlock pattern again to confirm, or tap RESET to re-enter it.

    Draw your unlock pattern once again to confirm, or tap RESET to re-enter it.
  12. Tap Choose Google Account.

  13. Tap the Google account you wish to use for password resetting, then tap OK.

  14. Tap Continue.

    Choose Google account, choose an account, Continue buttons for Norton App Lock
  15. Tap the yellow lock icon in the upper-right corner, then tap the lock next to the apps you want to passcode protect.

    Yellow lock icon, Docs app, passcode entry screen for Norton Apps Lock

    Tap the yellow lock whenever you want to enable or disable app lock.

  16. Once apps are locked, only the passcode you created earlier will grant access.