How to Lock Apps on Android

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

There are a few practical ways to lock specific apps on Android devices, including guest accounts, screen pinning, third-party apps, and the Samsung 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 with Android 7.0 (Nougat) or later. Upgrade your version of Android to follow along with this guide.

settings Embed Share Buy the print Comp Save to Board Security of digital screen with padlock

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 the lock screen security input.

To see which version of Android is installed on your device, go to Settings, then tap About Phone > Software Information.

For Android 10 and Android 9.0 Pie

Pin an app's screen to keep it in view until you unpin it.

  1. Open Settings and select Security or Biometrics and security > Other security settings.

    Navigating to other security settings in Android 10.0
  2. Scroll down to Advanced.

  3. Select the toggle next to Pin windows. .

  4. Turn on the Screen pinning toggle switch 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. Select Ask for PIN before unpinning to enable it for increased security.

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

    If your phone doesn't have an Overview button, you need to swipe up find the app you want to pin, and tap its icon at the top.

  7. Select Pin this app.

    Navigating to pinning the calendar in Android.

    You may get a Turn on Pin notification. Select OK to continue.

  8. Press and hold Back and Overview simultaneously to unpin the app.

    Some Android phones require you to press and hold Back and Home to unpin.

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

    Pinning and unpinning an app in Android.
  10. The app is unpinned.

For Android 8.0 Oreo and 7.0 Nougat

If you're using an older version of Android, the instructions are a bit different.

On some phones running Android 7.0, you get through steps 1, 2, and 3 via: Settings > Security > Screen pinning.

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

  2. Select Other security settings.

    Screenshots of lock screen settings in Android 7.
  3. Select Pin windows.

    On some phones running Android 7.0, you'll need to go to Settings > Security > Screen pinning.

  4. Select the toggle to enable screen pinning.

  5. Select the Use screen lock type to unpin toggle switch to enable it.

    On some phones running 7.0, the option is called Ask for unlock pattern before unpin.

    Screenshots of navigation to Pin Windows settings.
  6. Select Overview, then hover over the app window you want to lock to the front.

  7. Select the thumbtack in the lower-right corner, then tap Start.

    On some phones running 7.0, press GOT IT after pressing the tack.

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

    On some phones running 7.0, you only need to press and hold the Back button to unpin.

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

Lock Apps on Android With the Samsung Secure Folder

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

Secure Folder comes pre-installed on all of Samsung's flagship devices, going back to the Galaxy S7 series.

  1. Select Settings, then tap Biometrics and security.

  2. Select Secure Folder.

    Selecting the Secure folder settings in Android.
  3. Tap Agree on the splash screen and then log in to your Samsung account, if prompted.

  4. Select Lock type.

  5. Select Pattern, Pin, or Password (or a biometric option, if available), then continue by entering your selection and confirming it.

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

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

    Adding an app to Samsung Secure Folder.
  8. Select Lock and exit in the upper-right corner.

  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 the Norton App Lock Google Play page, then select Install.

  2. Once installed, select Open.

  3. Review the License Agreement, Terms of Use, and the Privacy Policy, then select Agree & Launch.

    Installing and opening Norton App Lock.
  4. When prompted for permission, select OK.

  5. Select the Allow display over other apps toggle switch.

    Allowing Norton permission in Android.
  6. Tap the back button. Tap Setup.

  7. Select Installed services.

  8. Select Norton App Lock Service.

    Navigating to installed services.
  9. Toggle the Off switch.

  10. Tap Allow.

  11. Tap the Back arrow. You should see Norton App Lock Service set to On.

    Enabling the Norton lock service.
  12. Tap Back twice.

  13. Draw an unlock pattern or tap Switch to Passcode, then enter a password.

  14. Draw your unlock pattern again to confirm, or tap Reset to re-enter it.

  15. Select Choose Google Account.

    Drawing an unlock pattern.
  16. Select the Google account you wish to use for password resetting, then select OK.

  17. Select Continue.

    Choose Google account, choose an account, Continue buttons for Norton App Lock
  18. Select the yellow lock icon in the upper-right corner, then select the lock next to the apps you wish to passcode protect.

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

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

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