How to Lock Apps on an iPad

Prevent access to certain apps on your iPad

What to Know

  • Open Settings > Screen Time > Use Screen Time Passcode, and set up a passcode if you haven’t already. 
  • Screen Time settings: Add Limits > Add Limit > app you want to lock > Next, set timer to 1 minute > tap Add.
  • Open for one minute, tap ask for more time > one minute. Wait 1 minute and app will remain locked for 1 day.

This article explains how to lock apps on an iPad, with instructions detailing how to use the Screen Time feature to block unauthorized access from specific apps.

How to Lock Apps on an iPad

Apple doesn’t provide a way to simply lock out an app or password protect an app on your iPad, but you can use the Screen Time feature to lock access to apps. This feature is designed to keep your kids from spending all day playing games and watching YouTube, but you can also use it to completely lock out apps using a simple workaround.

After you have set the minimum time limit of one minute on an app, open the app to run out the time. Next use up the extra minute provided by Screen Time. After that, the app will be totally locked unless you enter your passcode.

Here’s how to lock access to an iPad app:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Tap Screen Time.

    Screen Time highlighted in iPad Settings
  3. Tap Use Screen Time Passcode.

    If you don't see this option, you need to enable ScreenTime by choosing Turn on ScreenTime

    Use Screen Time Passcode highlighted in iPad Screen Time settings
  4. Enter a passcode.

    Settings a Screen Time password on iPad

    If you’ve already set up a Screen Time passcode, skip to step 7.

  5. Re-enter the passcode.

    Confirming a Screen Time passcode on an iPad
  6. Enter your Apple ID and password, and tap OK.

    Entering an Apple ID for screen time password recovery.
  7. Tap Add Limit.

    Add Limit highlighted in Screen Time settings
  8. Select an app or several apps, and tap Next.

    An app chosen and Next highlighted in Screen Time settings

    You can also lock access to app categories, like Entertainment.

  9. Set the time to 0 hours 1 minutes, make sure the Block at End of Limit toggle is on, and tap Add.

    Block at End of Limit and Add highlighted in Screen Time settings
  10. Open the app, and leave it open for one minute.

  11. Tap ask for more time.

    Ask For More Time highlighted in iPad Screen Time
  12. Tap One More Minute.

    One More Minute highlighted in Screen Time
  13. Wait another minute.

  14. The app is now inaccessible without your passcode.

    An iPad app that has been locked by Screen Time.

What’s the Point of Locking iPad Apps?

The Screen Time feature is primarily designed to limit the amount of time kids are able to access specific apps, so completely locking an app with this feature is a workaround. The reason you might want to consider using this workaround is it allows you to prevent unauthorized access to specific apps. If there’s an app you don’t want your kid to use at all, you can use this method to prevent them from using it.

This method of locking apps can also prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information. For example, if you need to give someone else physical access to your iPad, but you don’t want them to be able to scroll through your photos, you can lock access to the Photos app, along with any other apps you'd rather keep private..

How to Use Locked Apps

Locking an app only locks it for other people. As long as you remember your passcode, you can access the app at any time, even after you’ve run it out of time. To use a locked app, open the app, tap Ask For More Time and tap Enter Screen Time Passcode. You can then unlock the app for 15 minutes or one hour if you just want to use it a little before locking it again, or unlock all day if you aren’t worried about unauthorized access for the rest of the day.

Are There Any Apps You Shouldn’t Lock?

You can lock any app on your iPad. The only app that can’t be locked with Screen Time is the Phone app on your iPhone. There are some apps which won’t work right if you fully lock them, though. For example, if you lock Messages or FaceTime using the method described above, they won't be able to send or receive messages, so you won’t receive any notifications from those apps.

  • How do I lock an iPad to one app?

    You can use Screen Time to completely block off every app on the tablet except for the one you want people to use (for business, for example). You can also use Guided Access to prevent someone from exiting an iPad app. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Guided Access and turn the feature on, and then triple-click the Home or top button to activate it.

  • How do I lock in-app purchases on an iPad?

    Screen Time will also let you turn off in-app purchases. Go to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > iTunes & App Store Purchases > In-app Purchases and select Don't Allow.

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