How to Lock Apps on Android

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

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

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

How to Lock Apps on Android 9.0 Pie 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.

  1. Open Settings, then tap Security & location.

  2. Tap Advanced.

  3. Tap Screen pinning.

    A screenshot of Android Pie's security and location options.
  4. Tap the toggle to enable screen pinning.

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

    A screenshot of the screen pinning page in Android Pie.
  6. Tap the Overview icon, then tap the app you wish to pin.

  7. Tap Pin.

  8. Tap Got it.

    A screenshot of an app being pinned in Android 9.
  9. Tap and hold the Back and Overview icons to unpin the app.

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

    A screenshot of an app being unpinned in Android Pie.
  11. You're done!

Lock Apps on Android 8.0 Oreo and 7.0 Nougat With Screen Pinning

  1. Open Settings, then tap LOCK SCREEN AND SECURITY.

  2. Tap Other security settings.

  3. Tap Pin windows.

    A screenshot showing Android Oreo's lock screen and security options.
  4. Tap the toggle to enable Pin windows.

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

    A screenshot of Android Oreo's pin windows screen.
  6. Tap the Overview icon, bring the app window you wish to lock to the front, then tap the pin icon in the lower right corner.

  7. Tap OK.

    A screenshot showing the clock app being pinned in Android Oreo.
  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.

    A screenshot of the clock app in andoid 8 getting unpinned.
  10. You're done!

Lock Apps With a Guest Account on Android Pie and Oreo

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 uses separate instances of the stock installed applications on your device.

If you're a parent who'd like to limit the apps your children can access, tap the add account option when switching users. You'll have more control over how the new user account functions.

  1. Tap Settings, then tap System.

  2. Tap Advanced.

  3. Tap Multiple users.

    A screenshot of Android Pie's system options.
  4. Tap Guest to switch the user account, or tap the gear icon to the far right to enable phone calls.

  5. Tap the Turn on phone calls toggle to enable it.

  6. Tap OK when the dialog box appears.

    A screenshot of Android Pie's multiple users screen.
  7. You can also switch to a guest account by fully expanding your notification panel, then tap the user icon in the lower right section.

  8. Tap Guest to switch the user account.

    A screenshot of Android Pie's user account via the notification and quick settings panel.
  9. That's it!

Lock Apps on Android Nougat With a Guest Account

The steps below show how to enable a guest account on Android 7.

A screenshots of Android Nougat's guest account settings.
  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.

    A screenshot of a Galaxy S8's lock screen and security 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.

    A screenshot of Samsung's Secure Folder options.
  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.

    A screenshot of apps being added to Samsung's Secure Folder.
  9. A brief message will appear indicating Secure Folder is now locked. Attempting to access Secure Folder will prompt the lock type you selected earlier.

    A screenshot showing that Samsung's Secure Folder is locked.
  10. That's it!

Lock My Apps on Android With Mobile Applications

Mobile tools such as App Lock and Security Master will 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.

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. You can lock them all, or choose specific apps to restrict access to. Norton App Lock is free to download and supports Android 4.1 and up.

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

  2. Once installed, tap OPEN.

    A screenshot of Norton App Lock's Googple Play installation page.
  3. Review the License Agreement and Terms of Use, and the Privacy Policy, then tap Agree & Launch.

  4. Tap OK.

  5. Tap the Allow display over other apps toggle.

    A screenshot of Norton App Lock requesting permission to display over other apps.
  6. Tap Setup.

  7. Tap Norton App Lock Service.

    A screenshot of Norton App Lock requesting accessibility permission.
  8. Tap the Use service toggle.

  9. Tap OK.

    A screenshot showing accessibility setup in Norton App Lock.
  10. Draw an unlock pattern or tap SWITCH TO PASSCODE, then enter a password.

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

    A screnshot of Norton App Lock's initial passcode setup.
  12. With your passcode confirmed, tap Choose Google Account.

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

  14. Tap Continue.

    A screenshot showing the passcode reset email options.
  15. Tap the yellow lock icon in the upper right corner.

    You can tap this any time you wish to enable/disable the app.

  16. Tap the lock next to the apps you want to passcode protect. Once apps are locked, only the passcode you created earlier will grant access.

    A screenshot showing apps being locked in Norton App Lock for Android.
  17. You're done!