How to Lock a Hidden Photo Album on iPhone with iOS 16

Securing your images starts with a change to Photos in the Settings app

What to Know

  • Must Do: Settings > Photos > tap Use Face ID or Use Touch ID. 
  • To view locked photos: Open the Hidden album in Photos app > tap View Album. Unlock with Face ID/Touch ID.
  • You can also secure the Hidden album using your security passcode.

This article explains how to lock the hidden photo album on an iPhone without needing to use a third-party app for your photos.

How to Lock Hidden Photos on iPhone

When you hide photos on your iPhone, they disappear from your camera roll. These photos are still on your phone though, just in the Hidden album. Unless you lock down the Hidden album, anyone who has access to your phone can still view these hidden photos by opening that album. This security feature requires iOS 16 or later, and your device needs to support Face ID or Touch ID if you want to lock the hidden folder using one of those methods.

Here’s how to lock hidden photos on your iPhone:

  1. Open Settings and tap Photos.

  2. Tap the Use Face ID or Use Touch ID toggle to turn it on.

  3. Optionally, you can also tap the Show Hidden Album toggle to turn it off.

    Photos, Use Touch ID, and Show Hidden Album highlighted in iOS Photos settings

    Use this option if you don’t want to advertise the fact that you even have hidden photos on your phone.

How to Verify and View Locked Hidden Photos on iPhone

You can double check your hidden album is actually locked down by opening the Photos app. The album will still be there as long as you didn’t choose to remove it from the album list, but you’ll need to use Touch ID or Face ID to view the photos.

After several failed Touch ID or Face ID attempts, you will be prompted to unlock the album using your passcode. If you have shared your passcode with anyone, they'll be able to view your hidden photos using that method.

Here’s how to verify that your hidden album is locked:

  1. Open the Photos app, and tap Albums.

  2. Look for lock icons next to Hidden and Recently Deleted under Utilities.

  3. To view your hidden photos, tap Hidden.

  4. Tap View Album, and then use Touch ID or Face ID to unlock the folder.

    Album icon, Hidden, and View Album highlighted in a locked iPhone hidden album

Why Lock Photos on an iPhone?

Apple has provided an option to hide photos on your iPhone for a while, which removes them from the camera roll and puts them in the Hidden album. That’s fine if you just don’t want a photo in the general camera roll, but it doesn’t actually prevent anyone from seeing the photo. If you hand your phone to someone to check out some photos you’ve taken, there’s nothing to stop that person from switching to your Hidden album and seeing photos you didn’t want anyone to see.

The Photos app has a setting that lets you hide the Hidden album, which prevents it from showing up in your album listing. That’s helpful, as it helps you avoid advertising the fact that you have hidden photos, but it doesn’t actually stop anyone from seeing those photos. If someone knows what they’re doing, they can easily locate and view your Hidden album even if it doesn’t show up with your other albums.

The Hidden album also fails to protect your hidden images in other ways. For example, when selecting images with the image picker in other apps, it will let you pull images from the Hidden folder.

The option to lock your Hidden album, which was introduced with iOS 16, actually protects your hidden photos. When this feature is turned on, it locks your Hidden album behind either Face ID or Touch ID. If someone tries to access the Hidden album without your permission, they are greeted with a blank folder. This feature also locks down your recently deleted images in the same way.

In addition to locking down your hidden images in the default Photos app, this option also protects your hidden images elsewhere. Hidden images won’t show up in the image picker in other apps, and they won’t be accessible in any third-party apps either.

  • How do I delete a photo album on my iPhone?

    In the Photos app, go to Albums > See all > Edit and tap the red circle on the album to delete it. This does not delete the photos, only the album. The photos remain in the All Photos album.

  • How do I move a photo to an album on my iPhone?

    To move a photo or video to an album, open it in the Photos app and tap the three dots > Add to Album. Choose an existing album or tap New Album.

  • How do I share a photo album on my iPhone?

    Turn on iPhone Shared Albums to create albums that you share with other people. When you (or anyone else in the shared album) take a photo, you have the option to place it in the shared album, and everyone receives a notification.

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