Google has released an update for Google Photos fulfilling one of the oldest user requests. You can now hide photos and videos in Google Photos in a folder called Locked Folder to keep them away from prying eyes. Let’s understand how it works, what you can do, and what you can’t.
How Locked Folder Works in Google Photos
First, you’ll need to update the Photos app to the latest version. Locked Folder is available on Android only, at the time of writing this article, and supports Android 6 or later. iOS users will have to wait until early next year.
There are a couple of ways to use it but first, you can find it in the “Utilities” section under the “Library” tab in the Photos app. The feature is available on mobile only and not the web app because it doesn’t support cloud backup.
By default, the Locked Folder will use your phone’s biometric or PIN code to secure itself. There’s no setup required. You may also use a third-party app to lock the Photos app as well.
Another thing worth noting is that there is only one primary folder — Locked Folder. You can’t create subfolders within the Locked Folder to further organize your photos and videos. While inconvenient, hopefully, this will be addressed in a future update.
Locked Folders differ from the Archive function in a few important ways. Photos that are archived are backed up in the cloud and sync across devices, are searchable, can be shared, and are not protected by any kind of password.
How to Add Media From Photos Library to Locked Folder
My phone is configured such that all photos and videos are uploaded to the Google Photos app automatically. I can then organize them right inside Photos as I want. If you are like me, this method is for you.
- Open Photos app and go to “Library -> Utilities -> Locked Folder”. You will be asked to enter a PIN code or use biometric authentication to unlock the folder.
- Tap on “Move items” button to begin selecting images and videos in your Photos library to add them to the Locked Folder.
- Alternatively, tap on the “image with +” icon to add. Note that you won’t see items that are archived while adding photos to the Locked Folder. You will need to unarchive them first.
Note: You can’t take screenshots inside the Locked Folder for security reasons.
- Select media files that you want to add to the Locked Folder in Photos app and then tap on “Move” button to move them.
- At this point, you will be met with a prompt stating that copies and edited versions of the original image/video that you have moved will not be moved automatically to the Locked Folder. You need to select and move them manually.
Note: All items saved in the Locked Folder will be deleted if you uninstall Google Photos app or if you transfer devices (new smartphone).
- Tap on “Continue”.
- Tap on the “Allow” button if asked to give Photos app permission to move media files to Locked Folder.
And you are done.
Another way to move media files to Locked Folder is from the Photos library section. Simply select the photo you want to move and swipe up to select “Move to Locked Folder” option in the menu that appears.
How to Add Media From Camera to Locked Folder
Pixel users have the option to move media files like images and videos shot on their phone directly from the Camera app.
- In the Camera app, go to “Photo Gallery -> Locked Folder” before you click a photo or record a video.
- Once you have selected that option, any photo or video you take will be saved in the Locked Folder directly.
How to Move/Delete Media from Locked Folder in Photos
Once an image or a video has been added, you can either delete it from the Locked Folder or move it back to the library in the Photos app.
To do that, go back to the Locked Folder, open the image, and select either “Move” or “Delete” option at the bottom.
Google Photos has a trash folder where all your deleted files are kept, however, files that are deleted from the Locked Folder will be deleted permanently without being moved to the Trash folder first. Tap and hold to select multiple media files to move or delete them in bulk.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are photos stored in Locked Folder visible anywhere?
No. Once the photos are moved to the Locked Folder inside Google Photos, they are completely hidden. That means they are not searchable using any file explorers, gallery apps, or any default apps that came preinstalled with your smartphone. You can only access them inside Google Photos’ Locked Folder. If you are sharing your Google Photos with another person, they can’t access your Locked Folder either. Also, if you want to share a photo from Locked Folder, you will have to move it to the library first.
2. What happens if I uninstall Google Photos or lose phone?
Sadly, you will also lose all the files hidden inside Google Photos’ Locked Folder. While photos stored in the library are backed up, the contents of the Locked Folder are not. No one has access to it and so there is no way to recover it either.
3. Can I set a different password than my device’s default password?
No. By default, Google Photos will use the same password (passcode or biometric) that you are using to lock/unlock your phone. So, if anyone has access to your phone can also easily access the Locked Folder inside Google Photos.
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