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How to hide apps, files, and folders on your Android phone

Keep secret files for your eyes only!

Published onJanuary 30, 2024

There are plenty of reasons you’d like to hide apps, files, and folders on your Android device. Maybe you’ve got some pictures you’d prefer your mother doesn’t see when she borrows your phone. Perhaps you have some private documents that contain sensitive information. Maybe you have apps that aren’t child-friendly enough for your kids. Regardless of your reasons, today we’ll help you keep your private things private.


The simplest way to hide apps on Android is to use a third-party launcher. Our favorite one is Nova Launcher. Once you set the launcher, go to Nova Settings > App drawer > Hide apps. Select the apps you want to hide, and return to the home screen.

Some manufacturers offer their own methods for hiding apps and other files. Additionally, you can try disabling the app, or using a third-party app, such as a launcher, GalleryVault, or AppLock.


Editor’s note: Unless otherwise specified, we formulated these instructions using a Google Pixel 7 running Android 14. Remember that some things may look different depending on your hardware and software.

How to hide apps on any Android phone

Regardless of your brand, you can easily hide apps on any phone with the two methods below. The first one is suitable for hiding pre-installed apps you don’t use and hiding the apps you do use but want to ensure no one but you sees.

On the other hand, the second method is a lot more limited. It only works with system apps, which are pre-installed apps that you can’t remove, but it requires less work and won’t change the look and feel of your Android phone like the first method.

Use a launcher

Many Android launchers allow you to hide apps with just a few taps. We recommend using Nova Launcher because it packs plenty of features and is blazingly fast. The only problem is that you need to upgrade to the Prime version of the app to get the option to hide apps. If you’re into customization and want a stock-like experience on your smartphone, it’s worth paying the $5 to get the upgrade.

Install Nova Launcher and Nova Launcher Prime from the Play Store, then set it as the default launcher on your phone. Once that’s done, follow the instructions below to hide your apps. Don’t worry; you can still use the apps even when hidden. Just open the app drawer, type the app’s name in the search box up top, and launch it when it appears.

How to hide apps on Nova Launcher:

  1. Download Nova Launcher.
  2. Download Nova Launcher Prime to get access to extra features like the ability to hide apps.
  3. Open the Nova Launcher app. You should also set it as your default launcher.
  4. Once inside the Nova Launcher, open the Nova Settings app.
  5. Select App drawer.
  6. Go into Hide apps.
  7. Check the box next to the apps you want to hide.
  8. Hit the back button. Your apps will be hidden.

Keep in mind that the ability to hide apps is just one of the many features offered by Nova Launcher. The launcher will change your Android UI’s look and feel, which means it’s not for everyone.

Disable apps in the settings

You can remove/hide apps from the app drawer by disabling them, which means you won’t be able to use them. However, this method only works with system apps — pre-installed apps on your phone that can’t be deleted. You can’t disable an app you’ve downloaded from the Play Store.

How to disable apps on Android:

  1. Open the Settings app on your phone.
  2. Select the Apps option.
  3. Tap See all apps.
  4. Find and open the app you want to hide.
  5. Tap Disable, followed by Disable app.

How to hide apps on phones from Samsung, OnePlus, and more

Many phones have a built-in feature that allows you to hide apps. We won’t list instructions for every brand out there, but we will show you how to get the job done on Samsung and OnePlus.

Remember that not every phone from the brands mentioned supports hiding apps. The feature may not be available if you have an older Android device running an older version. The path to the feature may also slightly differ based on your handset and OS version.

How to hide apps on OnePlus phones

OnePlus used to have a tool named Hidden Space, but the process of hiding apps has been simplified. The option is now easily accessible from the settings.

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Go into Privacy.
  3. Select Hide apps.
  4. Enter your PIN (or create it).
  5. Toggle on the apps you want to hide.

Note: These instructions were assembled using a OnePlus Nord N200 running Android 12. Keep in mind that steps might differ depending on your phone and software version.

How to hide apps on Samsung phones

Hiding apps on a Samsung phone is a breeze. Let’s show you how it’s done.

  1. Open the app drawer.
  2. Tap the three-dot menu button.
  3. Select the Settings option.
  4. Find and tap the Hide apps option.
  5. Select the apps you want to hide.
  6. Tap the Done option.

Note: These instructions were assembled using a Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus running Android 12. Keep in mind steps might be slightly different depending on your phone and software version.

How to hide files and folders on any Android phone

Just like with hiding apps, we’ll show you two methods for hiding photos and files that you can use on any phone. Both get the job done but in very different ways. The two methods require you to download an app from the Play Store.

Use the Files app

Pretty much any Android phone has access to the Files app, which has a Safe folder. Remember that this Files Safe folder can only store individual files, not folders.

How to hide files on the Files app:

  1. Launch the Files app.
  2. Select Safe folder.
  3. Create a PIN or Pattern.
  4. Look for the file you want to hide.
  5. Select the file.
  6. Tap on the three-dot menu button.
  7. Select Move to Safe folder.
  8. Enter your PIN or Pattern and hit Next.

Use the GalleryVault app

As you can tell by its name, this app serves as a vault for your images and other files. You can move the files from your gallery and other apps into Gallery Vault, where you can access them with a PIN code or fingerprint. It’s a free app, but it has ads that can get annoying.

How to hide files on the Gallery Vault app:

  1. Download the Gallery Vault app.
  2. Launch the app and set up your account.
  3. Press the + button in the bottom-right corner.
  4. Select the type of file you want to add to the vault.
  5. Pick the files you want to upload
  6. Hit Add.
  7. Select the folder you want the files placed in.
  8. Select Add to folder.

Note: GalleryVault doesn’t allow screenshots, so we won’t be able to show you the process visually. It’s that private!

About hiding folders, you can’t just hide existing folders using this app. You can, however, create a new folder within GalleryVault, and simply transfer the individual files to it.

Use AppLock

If you don’t want to move images and other files from one place to another, an app like AppLock is a better choice for you. It lets you lock any app on your phone and access it with your fingerprint. For example, you can lock the Gallery, Google Photos, or Files apps, so even if someone does play around with your phone, they can’t see any files or folders you have on your phone.

How to use AppLock:

  1. Download AppLock and set it up.
  2. Scroll down and tap the apps you want to protect. Allow all necessary permissions.
  3. Make sure you are in the Privacy tab.
  4. Go through the list of apps and tap on the lock icon next to the app you want to lock.
  5. You may be asked to give some app permissions to AppLock. Do so.
  6. Now, the app is locked, and you will need to verify your identity any time you want to launch it!

How to hide pictures and files on phones from Samsung, OnePlus, and more

Depending on your phone, you can hide files and images without downloading third-party apps. This feature is built into phones by Samsung, OnePlus, etc. Check out the detailed instructions for the brands mentioned below.

How to hide files on OnePlus phones?

OnePlus has an excellent Private Safe feature buried so deep that many people don’t know about it. You have to open the Settings app to access it. By the way, this method doesn’t allow saving folders, either.

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Go into Privacy.
  3. Select Private Safe (You can also opt for the App lock).
  4. Go into Images and videosAudio, Documents, or Other files.
  5. Hit the + button.
  6. Select the files you want to hide.
  7. Tap on Set as private.

Note: These instructions were assembled using a OnePlus Nord N200 running Android 12. Keep in mind steps might be slightly different depending on your phone and software version. Also, OnePlus doesn’t allow taking screenshots once inside the Private Safe, which is why we didn’t show more.

How to hide files on Samsung phones

Secure Folder is one of the best features available on Samsung phones and allows you to hide photos and all sorts of other files. The app should be pre-installed on your device, but you’ll need a Samsung account to use it. If you can’t find it, try searching for it in the app drawer search box. You can often also find it in the notification area.

  1. Launch the Secure Folder app.
  2. Tap on the three-dot menu button.
  3. Select Add files.
  4. Choose whether you want to add Images, Videos, Audio, Documents, or My Files.
  5. Select the files you want to add to Secure Folder and tap Done.
  6. Pick Move.

Note: These instructions were put together using a Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus running Android 12. Keep in mind steps might be slightly different depending on your phone and software version.

Like other methods in this guide, Secure Folder doesn’t allow you to hide folders. You can only add individual apps and files to it.

How to manually hide folders on Android devices

The ability to hide folders is not a common features, so if you really want to do this there is one method that will work on any Android handset. You can simply hide the folder manually by giving adding a specific character to its name. Let’s show you how it’s done.

We will use the Files app to showcase the concept, but any file manager should be able to do this. Some steps might change, though.

  1. Launch the Files app.
  2. Go to your phone’s internal storage.
  3. Tap on the + button to create a new folder.
  4. Make sure the folder name starts with a period. For example: .hidden. The name could be anything; just ensure it starts with the period.
  5. Hit Create Folder.
  6. You won’t be able to see the folder by default. To see it, navigate back to the Files homepage and tap on the three-line menu button in the top-right corner. Go to Settings and toggle on Show hidden files.
  7. Go back to your internal storage, and the folder should show up. You can now move any folders or files to it.
  8. To rehide the folder, follow step #6 and toggle off Show hidden files.

Try Android guest profiles

There is another solution if you don’t want others snooping into your apps, photos, and files when they use your phone. You can create a guest profile! This will allow a secondary user to do his business on your phone without access to your accounts, files, or private information. His information also won’t be permanently stored on your apps and device.

Guest profiles are available to all devices running Android 9 or newer.

How to create a guest profile on Android:

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Go into System.
  3. Select Multiple users.
  4. Toggle on Allow multiple users.
  5. Tap on Add guest. We also recommend toggling on Delete guest activity.
  6. Select Switch to Guest.
  7. You can now switch between profiles by going to the same settings and tapping on Exit guest mode.

There must be a reason you want to keep your files secret. Do you suspect someone is spying on you? We have a guide to find out if someone is spying on your phone. You may also want to keep your passwords safe, so we’ve put together a guide for managing your passwords.

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