How to Use Android Guest Mode to Share Your Device Without Compromising Privacy

Suppose you want to show off a new feature on your Android device or just lend it to a friend for a while; you may not want him or her to view your text messages or private photos while using your device. Before Android Lollipop, there was no built-in way to access a guest session, on stock Android at least. The alternative was to lock down the applications that hold your private data, but even that wasn’t entirely foolproof.

A neat guest mode feature was introduced in Android 5.0 to solve that problem. When you switch to Android guest mode, all your data is tucked away in your user account and made unavailable.

It would be as if you reset your device to its factory state – not to worry, you can easily switch back to your user account and get your data and settings back. This ensures that your privacy is not compromised even when other people handle your device.

Guest mode is enabled by default so all you have to do is to switch to it with a few taps.

1. Do a two-finger swipe from the top of your screen to bring up the quick Settings panel. Alternatively, swipe down twice with a single finger.

2. Tap the User icon in the upper-right corner.

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3. Next, tap Guest. Your phone will automatically switch to Guest Mode.

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4. Now you may hand the device to whomever needs to use it.

All your installed applications will be unavailable except the ones that came pre-installed with the device, and all settings will be reset to the defaults as if the device was newly purchased, so there’s no danger of someone snooping at your photos, reading texts or checking your browsing history.

However, keep in mind that your SD Card is not protected by switching to guest mode; it is still accessible and can be read and written to by a guest user.

To switch back to your user account, open the quick-settings panel and tap “Remove Guest.” This will delete all guest session data and return you back to your user account, although you need to unlock the device first.

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There’s one solitary option you can change about how guest mode works on your phone. Head to Settings, scroll down and find the Users option. Tap the cog next to the Guest option to enable or disable phone calls while in guest mode.

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As of Android Nougat, that’s the only configurable setting available. Perhaps in future releases we will see more options make way into this space.

That’s all there is to setting up Guest Mode on an Android device. If you have a non-stock interface, there may be some differences in configuration to what we have discussed above. Even so, the tools that provide some type of guest mode should be available.

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