Hide files on Android phones, lock them in a secure safe

We all have files we would rather others not see on our phone. How do you keep files private and out of sight? One way is using the Safe folder in the Files by Google app. Here’s how it works.

Files by Google is a free Android app that provides several different functions and the main one is to clean up the phone’s storage by finding and deleting junk files, large files, unused apps, and so on.

Other functions include the ability to browse the files on your phone according to their category, like downloads, documents, audio, images and videos.

A lesser known function of Files by Google is to provide a Safe Folder, which is a secure folder that is locked with a PIN. You can move files to the Safe Folder to hide them. Your phone is locked of course, but your partner may know the unlock code, you may lend your phone to someone to look at photos, or you might leave it on a table and someone next to you could pick it up.

If you really don’t want anyone else to see certain personal photos, movies, downloads or documents, it is best to lock them in a safe and secure folder. Files by Google can do that. It is not the only app of its type, but it is free and easy to use. Let’s take a look.

Browse files on your phone

Files by Google app for Android phones.
Browse file categories on the phone with Files by Google

Open the Files by Google app on your phone and press the Browse button in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Recent files are shown at the top and then below are several categories of files, like Downloads, Images, Videos and so on. Select one of these categories to see the files it contains. I will select Downloads, but what follows is the same for all categories.

File actions menu

Files by Google app for Android phone
File actions in Files by Google Android app

The files in the selected category are displayed and you can choose a list view or thumbnails vide using the icon at the top right. Each file has three dots on the right. Press it to display a menu of file actions. We want to securely hide a file, so press Move to safe folder on the menu.

One file or multiple files can be moved. To move several files, press and hold on a file until it is selected. You can then select other files at the same time. Press the three dots in the top right corner to open the file actions menu and press Move to safe folder.

Lock the Safe folder

Safe folder PIN in Files by Google Android app
Lock files with a PIN in Files by Google Safe folder

The app prevents screenshots from here on for security, so I took photos using another phone, which is why the images look odd.

Press either PIN or Pattern. Press PIN for example, and you are prompted to enter a four-digit code Not 1234 or the same code that is used to unlock your phone. Think of something different and enter it. Do not forget it or you will never be able to access your photos.

Safe folder files and actions

Files in Files by Google Safe folder in Android

The Safe folder opens and the files it contains are listed. Here I added two files. Each file has a three-dots icon on the right. Press it and a menu is displayed. It can be deleted or moved out of the Safe folder.

Tap a file in the Safe folder and if it is an photo or other image, it will be displayed. If another app is required to open it, like Microsoft Office or Excel, it will not open and you must move it out of the Safe folder to open it. Apps cannot access the contents of the Safe folder, even if you unlock it. It’s a security thing.

Show or hide the Safe folder

Hide the Safe folder in Files by Google for Android phones
Hide the Safe folder in Files by Google

Now that you have one or more files in the Safe folder, press the three dots to the right of Collections on the Files by Google Browser screen and select Hide Safae Folder. This removes if from Collections.

Tap the menu button again and select Show Safe Folder if you want to access it. Hiding it simply makes it less obvious to someone looking over your shoulder that you have hidden secret files.

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