Hide photos in Google Photos, lock them with a PIN or fingerprint

Are there photos in Google Photos that you would like to keep private and not let others see? There are two ways to hide photos in Google Photos on a phone and one method is very secure.

Some photos you just want to keep private and there are many reasons for this. For example, you may want to keep photographs of ex-partners out of sight and away from your current partner. You might not want to delete them because they are valuable memories, but you don’t want them on view where your current partner could see them. I am sure you can think of several other reasons for wanting to hide certain photos.

Are Google Photos not hidden? How would anyone access them? Phones are locked with a PIN, face or fingerprint, so how could anyone access your photos in Google Photos? You may lend your phone to someone and my other half often asks to use my phone to ring her own phone that she misplaced somewhere in the house.

Your partner might want to use your phone because there’s is playing up and not working properly, or they think it is not working and want to try something on yours to see if it is the same. You might want to show someone your holiday or trip photos, but there may also be sensitive photos elsewhere in your Photos library. You might lend your phone to your kids to watch a video to keep them quiet or to play a game and they may get curious and use other apps on the phone.

When your phone is in someone else’s hands, they may see photos you would rather they didn’t see. Hide them or lock them in Google Photos on your phone.

Archive photos in Google Photos to hide them

Google Photos has the normal photos feed showing your snapshots and it also has an Archive, which is a separate section of the Photos library. Photos in the Archive do not appear in the normal Photos feed and they are hidden. There is no security, but at least they are hidden from normal view and are not immediately visible when scrolling through your latest photographs.

The Library in the Google Photos app on an Android phone

Open Google Photos and press the Library button in the bottom right corner of the screen. If you want to browse the photos in the Archive, press the Archive button at the top. Ignore it for the moment and let’s proceed to the Utilities section of Google Photos. Press Utilities at the top.

Utilities in the Google Photos app on a phone

In the Utilities section are options to Move photos to the archive and Locked Folder. Let’s archive some photos first. This will hide them from the normal photos feed so someone cannot accidentally see them.

Archive photos in the Google Photos app on a phone

Photos appear as thumbnails and you can browse them and select them with the ticks. Press Done when you have selected all the images you want to archive. I take lots of screenshots for articles like this and I move them to the archive so they are not visible in the normal photos feed. It cleans up my photo feed so I can see real photos instead of dozens of screenshots. It’s just one way to use the archive.

Archive photos in the Google Photos app on a phone

Afterwards, you can go to the archive and see your photos. You can use the archive for whatever purpose you want. Just remember that it is not secure or private.

Hide photos in a locked folder in Google Photos

If you need to secure certain photos and lock them away so that other people cannot access them, even if you hand them your phone, they should be placed in a Locked Folder. Photos stored there are not visible in the normal Photos feed. They do not appear in search results and they do not sync to your online Google Photos account. They cannot be seen if you go to Google Photos in a web browser or in the app on a phone.

Locked folder in Google Photos

From the Utilities screen, press Locked Folder. A couple of introductory screens are show if you have never used this feature before. They appear once only and you will not see them again. From this point on, screenshots are blocked, so I had to photograph the screen with another phone. That’s why the next few screenshots look a bit blurry. It’s a security feature.

Locked folder in Google Photos

There is nothing in the Locked Folder the first time this feature is used and you are prompted to move items, like photos and videos, to it. Press Move items, browse your photos, select some and move them to the Locked Folder.

Locked folder in Google Photos

On subsequent visits to the Locked Folder, you are asked to provide a fingerprint, face recognition or enter a PIN. These are the same ones you use to unlock your phone.

Locked folder in Google Photos

To move more photos to the Locked Folder, tap the icon at the top. You can then browse and select photos in the usual way. They are removed from the photos feed and they appear here. They can be browsed and viewed in the usual way.

Photos can be moved back to the main Photos feed very easily. Just long press one photo to select it. Select any others you want to move and then press the button to move them.

Google Photos may not be the only place that photos are visible. A phone may have a Gallery or Photos app in which photographs can be viewed. Move a photo to the Google Photos Locked Folder and see if it is also hidden in the Gallery or Photos app. It is removed on my phone, so everything is OK. Moving a photo from Locked Folder makes it appear in my phone’s Gallery app again, so everything works as expected. Just check your own phone to confirm this.

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