How to Restrict Android App Permissions

Android’s app permissions system has improved over the years. In the past app permissions were broadly defined, and most apps would have to request permission to more device functionality so as to have access to a simple function, and you often have to accept all the permission requests or not install it. There was no way to restrict access except by uninstalling the app.

Recent versions of Android have rectified the situation by switching to a more granular permission system and giving users the option to restrict an app from accessing a specific feature on a device.

In addition, you no longer grant all the permissions to an app before installing. Apps will now ask for a permission when they need it. For example, a newly installed file manager app will request the permission to access your filesystem only when you launch it for the first time, not when you install the app.

Looking at the permissions required for some apps can be pretty scary, even if the apps are developed by trustworthy people or organizations. Most of the time these permissions are needed by the app for it to function as intended. Sometimes, though, an app will request more permissions than is necessary for it to work.

If you insist on using these apps, you will be glad to know that it is possible to control the exact permissions that applications on your device can access, even if an app was designed for an older Android version and has all the permissions enabled by default.

Manage permissions on a per-app basis

To enable or disable permissions for a specific application, make sure you are running Android Marshmallow (6.0) or later.

1. Launch your settings app, and tap “Applications” or “Apps.” All the applications on your device will be listed on the resulting page. Tap any one of them to view more information.


2. Find the “Permissions” option, and tap it to view all the features of your device that the app has access to.


3. You can then toggle the buttons beside each permission as desired.


4. For apps that were designed for older Android versions, you’ll get a prompt that warns you that denying the permission may cause the app to misbehave.


This is because older apps just assume they have the required permissions and will not prompt you to grant it the permission it needs if you decide to turn it off. So, if you encounter a problem with any app, you can always come back here and re-enable the permissions again.

5. You can also tap the menu button to reveal the “All permissions” option where you will see exactly how the app uses the permissions it requests.


Manage permissions on a per-feature basis

You can also view all the apps that have access to a specific permission all at once by going to “Settings -> Applications.” Tap the menu button at the top-right corner and then tap “App permissions. ”


This will display a list of permissions that apps on your phone can access. From here you can tap any permission to view all the apps that can request that particular feature.


For example, here’s a list of the applications that can request access to the calendar on my device.


To revoke an app’s permission, tap the toggle switch to flip it to the Off position. To re-grant permission, tap the toggle switch again.

Wrap Up

There’s no need to become irate whenever an application requires a generous amount of permissions. In many instances the use case for those permissions is legit. But know that you pick and choose what sort of information and which system resources any given app can access at any time.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Ayo Isaiah
Ayo Isaiah

Ayo Isaiah is a freelance writer from Lagos who loves everything technology with a particular interest in open-source software. Follow him on Twitter.

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