You don’t need to give reasons for wanting to keep your text messages and photos on your phone locked away from prying eyes. This stuff is private and should remain so, and if anyone wants to see things you’re happy having publicly shared, then they can head to your Twitter or Instagram page. Or perhaps you have kids you don’t want to accidentally delete your entire photo collection.
There are various ways to lock photos, text messages and other areas of your phone you want to keep private – from in-app functions in certain messaging apps to apps that let you lock and take closer control of other apps.
Here are the best ones for the job.
Whether you want to lock photos, messaging apps or pretty much any app you can think of, AppLock can do it for you. It’s not so precise that it can lock specific messages or photos, but it can secure the entire app so that when someone taps it, they’ll need to enter a secure code (that presumably only you know).
AppLock is free and very easy to set up, and we like the fact that when its lock screen pops up over an app, it doesn’t market itself by saying “AppLock” in big letters or anything. It just brings up a lock screen, which feels subtle and well integrated with the OS.
AppLock comes with a bunch more features, like system cleaning and so on, but we recommend you just give it the necessary permissions to secure your apps.
Use Telegram, Signal or Other Secure Texting Apps
WhatsApp isn’t a particularly private app (and inspired us to come up with a list of alternatives). Not only does it tie into Facebook, but it doesn’t offer much privacy on the homefront either, with a lack of options like “Disappearing Messages” and screen locks.
Popular alternatives like Telegram and Signal are much better on this front, with both apps offering integrated features that let you set up a lock for the apps. Signal also lets you block screenshots from appearing in the recent contacts, and both apps have a Disappearing Messages feature that auto-delete messages after an amount of time that suits you.
Other apps may do this, too, so do let us know if you know some!
Secure Folder (Samsung Devices)
There are people who claim to stick with Samsung devices purely for this feature (which is probably an exaggeration). Secure Folder – exclusive to Samsung phones – hasn’t been updated for a while but continues to be hugely popular, letting you encrypt, lock and biometrically lock your apps and data.
It uses Samsung’s famed Knox security, too, so your apps are not only protected from people accessing your phone but online threats as well.
The Next Best Thing: Archiving
If you’re looking to lock your messages and photos, you’re probably doing so because you want to hide them, right? While archiving doesn’t strictly lock your sensitive information behind a password, it’s a handy extra layer of privacy to deploy if, say, you’re showing someone your photos but don’t want them seeing certain ones or if there are certain messages in your inbox that are more private than others.
The exact process varies across apps, though most messaging and photo apps have an archive feature.
In WhatsApp, Messages, Signal and many other messaging apps, the method of archiving is much the same throughout. Just long-tap the chat you want to archive, then tap the folder icon at the top-right corner to archive it.
In Google Photos, long-tap the photos you want to archive, then tap the three-dotted menu icon at the top-right corner and “Move to Archive..
That covers several ways you can lock your text messages and photos on Android. For more Android hackery, see the best free music download apps on the platform and how to fix the infamous delayed notifications issue on Android.