There are a few practical ways to lock specific apps on Android devices, including guest accounts, screen pinning, third-party apps, and the Samsung Secure Folder. Learn how to lock apps on Android in the foreground or limit access to them altogether.
Instructions in this article apply to all smartphones and tablets with Android 7.0 (Nougat) or later. Upgrade your version of Android to follow along with this guide.
How to Lock Apps on Android With Screen Pinning
Screen pinning locks an app in open view. Attempting to close it or access the home screen prompts the lock screen security input.
To see which version of Android is installed on your device, go to Settings, then tap About Phone > Software Information.
FOR ANDROID 10 AND ANDROID 9.0 PIE
Pin an app’s screen to keep it in view until you unpin it.
Open Settings and select Security or Security & location.
Select Screen pinning.
Turn on the Screen pinning toggle switch to enable screen pinning.
To get the most out of screen pinning and guest accounts, set a secure lock screen pin, password, or pattern beforehand.
Select Ask for PIN before unpinning to enable it for increased security.
Select the Overview icon (the square in the black bar at the bottom of the screen), then tap the app you wish to pin.
If your phone doesn’t have an Overview button, you need to swipe up find the app you want to pin, and tap its icon at the top.
Choose Got it.
Press and hold Back and Overview simultaneously to unpin the app.
Some Android phones require you to press and hold Back and Home to unpin.
Enter your pin, pattern, password, or biometric security option to unpin the screen.
The app is unpinned.
FOR ANDROID 8.0 OREO AND 7.0 NOUGAT
If you’re using an older version of Android, the instructions are a bit different.
On some phones running Android 7.0, you get through steps 1, 2, and 3 via: Settings > Security > Screen pinning.
Open Settings, then tap Lock Screen and Security.
Select Other security settings.
Select Pin windows.
On some phones running Android 7.0, you’ll need to go to Settings > Security > Screen pinning.
Select the toggle to enable screen pinning.
Select the Ask for PIN before unpinning toggle switch to enable it.
On some phones running 7.0, the option is called Ask for unlock pattern before unpin.
Select Overview, then hover over the app window you want to lock to the front.
Select the thumbtack in the lower-right corner, then tap OK.
On some phones running 7.0, press GOT IT after pressing the tack.
Select and hold the Back and Overview icons to unpin the window.
On some phones running 7.0, you only need to press and hold the Back button to unpin.
Enter your pattern, pin, password, or scan your biometric security option to unpin the app.
How to Lock Apps With a Guest Account on Android
To keep your apps, settings, and files out of view, enable a guest account before sharing your device with someone. A guest account functions the same as a regular account; however, it uses separate instances of the applications on your device.
With a guest account enabled, your apps and information are not accessible.
FOR ANDROID 10.0, PIE 9.0 AND OREO 8.0
To create a guest account in Android 10, Pie, and Oreo:
Tap Settings, then tap System.
Select Multiple users.
Select Guest to switch the user account, or tap the gear icon on the far right to enable phone calls.
Turn on the Turn on phone calls toggle switch to enable it if you wish to continue receiving calls while the guest account is active.
Select OK when the dialog box appears.
It’s also possible to switch to a guest account by expanding the notification panel and tapping the user icon in the lower-right section. Select Guest to change the user account.
FOR ANDROID NOUGAT 7.0
To enable a guest account on Android 7:
Go to Settings.
Tap Cloud and accounts or Users and accounts.
Tap Users and select Guest.
Swipe down to view your quick settings panel, then choose the user icon in the upper-right corner.
Lock Apps on Android With the Samsung Secure Folder
With Secure Folder, you can protect selected apps by locking them with the security option of your choice. If your device didn’t come with Secure Folder and it has Android 7 or higher, download it from Google Play or Galaxy apps.
Secure Folder comes pre-installed on all of Samsung’s flagship devices, going back to the Galaxy S7 series.
Select Settings, then tap Biometrics and security.
Select Secure Folder. Tap Agree on the splash screen and then log in to your Samsung account.
Select Lock type.
Tap Lock type (or a biometric option, if available).
Select Pattern, Pin, or Password, then continue by entering your selection and confirming it.
Select Secure Folder from the app drawer, then tap Add apps.
Select the apps you wish to include in Secure Folder, then tap Add.
Select Lock in the upper-left corner.
A brief message appears indicating Secure Folder is now locked. Attempting to access Secure Folder prompts the lock type you selected earlier.
Enter your pattern, pin, password, or scan your biometric security option.
The app is unpinned.
How to Lock Apps on Android With Mobile Applications
Mobile tools such as App Lock and Security Master lock your apps and protect your files. Most apps that lock or protect your device’s content require a few permissions and system privileges, such as displaying over other apps and accessibility usages.
How to Set a Password for Apps With Norton App Lock on Android
Norton App Lock by Symantec is a useful tool for protecting applications and private files stored on your device. Norton App Lock is free to download and supports Android 4.1 and up. You can restrict access to all apps or choose specific apps to lock:
Go to the Norton App Lock Google Play page, then select Install.
Once installed, select Open.
Select the Allow display over other apps toggle switch.
Tap the back button. Tap Setup.
Select Norton App Lock Service.
Turn on the Use service toggle switch.
Draw an unlock pattern or tap Switch to Passcode, then enter a password.
Draw your unlock pattern again to confirm, or tap Reset to re-enter it.
Select Choose Google Account.
Select the Google account you wish to use for password resetting, then select OK.
Select the yellow lock icon in the upper-right corner, then select the lock next to the apps you wish to passcode protect.
Select the yellow lock whenever you want to enable or disable the app lock.
Once apps are locked, only the passcode you created earlier will grant access.