Hide and secure notes in Microsoft OneNote and Google Keep

Password protect notes, set up fingerprint security

If you lend someone your phone, if only for a minute to do something, what could they see if they opened your notes app? Let’s see how to make OneNote or Keep notes private and hidden.

Your phone is probably locked with a PIN, password, fingerprint or face, and this makes it tough for anyone to access, so information stored in your Microsoft OneNote or Google Keep app are secure right? Well, maybe. Sometimes when we are with a group of friends, we put our phone down and someone could pick it up, perhaps to post a joke or photo on social media. While doing so, they might be tempted to take a peek at other apps on your phone.

Sometimes we lend our phone to a friend “I’ve no minutes/data left, can I borrow your phone to make a quick call?” Or we give our phone to our kids to play with to keep them quiet while we do something else.

You may lend your phone to a partner or they may know your PIN. Could they be tempted to look at your notes apps? Maybe.

For various reasons, you might want to keep some notes private and not have them easily accessible to someone you lend your phone to

Secure OneNote notes

I will be using an Android phone here, but OneNote and Keep apps are both available for iPhones as well. The work pretty much the same way.

1 Create a OneNote section

Create a new note in Microsoft OneNote on a phone

To hide notes in OneNote, open the app on your phone and on the Sections screen, tap the plus button to create a new section. This will be the place we store our private notes. Give it a name. I am going to call it Secret, but it can be anything of course.

2 OneNote section menu options

Protect a note in Microsoft OneNote on an Android phone

Long press on the the name of the section you just created and tap Protect section at the bottom of the menu. There can be any number of protected sections and the padlock to the right of Notes in the screenshot above shows another protected section I have.

3 Password protect OneNote sections

Password protect a note in OneNote on a phone

Enter a password for the protected section, twice to confirm it. There is no way to get into a protected section if you ever forget the password, so write it down, save it in a password manager, keep it safe!

4 Lock a OneNote section and notes

Lock notes in Microsoft OneNote on a phone

A protected section works just like any other section in a OneNote notebook. You can add as many pages of notes as you need and the whole section containing multiple notes can be locked by tapping the three dots menu in the top right corner. Press Lock All.

5 Add fingerprint protection to notes

Unlock a protected note with a fingerprint in OneNote on a phone

Locked OneNote sections are just like any normal section, except when you try to access them, you are asked to enter the password to unlock them. It is just one extra step to get to your notes.

When a section is unlocked, there is an option to unlock it with a fingerprint the next time. This is a phone function, not a OneNote function. If you have set up your phone to unlock with a fingerprint, then a fingerprint can be used in OneOnote. If you have not set up fingerprint recognition on your phone, and it has a fingerprint reader, go and set it up. For example, Settings > Lock Screen and Security > Fingerprints.

If you unlock a notes section in OneNote and then switch to another app, it may stay unlocked. Either lock the section before you switch away or quit the app and clear it from the task switcher screen.

Hide Google Keep notes

Google Keep does not allow you to protect notes with passwords or fingerprints and anyone that gets their hands on your phone can open the Keep app and see your notes. The only option available to you is to move notes you don’t want people to see to the Archive. This takes them off the home screen, so they are not immediately visible. Notes are at least hidden, but without security.

1 Archive Google Keep notes

Archive a Google Keep note on a phone

There are no security options in Google Keep and anyone can view your notes. However, if you want to hide a particular note, open it and then tap the Archive button in the top right corner. The note disappears from the Keep home screen and so it is not right in front of anyone tempted to look at your notes.

2 Access archived notes

Access archived notes in Google Keep on a phone

To view archives notes, ones you don’t want people to see, tap the menu button at the top of Keep and press Archive on the menu that appears.

3 Browse archived notes in Keep

View archived notes in Google Keep on a phone

Archived notes, text and images, are displayed and can be browsed, opened, deleted and so on, just like regular notes. This is the weakest of the weakest security, but at least private information is not right in front of someone’s eyes if they open Google Keep on your phone.

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