Handing Over Your Phone to Show a Photo? How To Avoid Snooping Fingers

Yaara Lancet 09-04-2014

You hand over your phone to show someone a photo. Next thing you know, your friend has taken the liberty to go through all the photos in your gallery, including those embarrassing ones you never meant for anyone to see. In some cases, they might even “accidentally” hit your Home button and start snooping around your phone!


Our phones are very much like our personal computers, and having snooping fingers go through your stuff is never a good feeling. But how do you stop them? If you ask someone to please stop snooping, not only do you risk insulting them, you’re also insinuating that you have something to hide. But just because you care about your privacy What Is PRISM? Everything You Need to Know The National Security Agency in the US has access to whatever data you're storing with US service providers like Google Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook. They're also likely monitoring most of the traffic flowing across the... Read More doesn’t mean you’re a criminal, right?

There’s an easy way to solve this mess: locker apps! With the Android apps below, you’ll be able to lock certain images in your gallery or certain apps on your phone, so no matter who’s snooping around, they’ll never be able to see what you don’t want them to see.

Gallery Lock (Free with ads)

Gallery Lock is the perfect app for the gallery scenario mentioned above. If you want to show some pictures to your friends but don’t want them going through your whole gallery, this app can help.

Gallery Lock is a password-protected app that lets you create hidden folders. You can add any image or video file to those folders, and in essence, create an alternative gallery only you have access to.



Once you hide some files, they will disappear from your regular gallery, and no one but you will be able to see them, no matter how long the scroll through your stuff. To access your hidden files, all you have to do is launch Gallery Locker and enter your password (number or pattern). You will then be able to view your images, and even watch them in a slideshow with music.

Feeling especially paranoid? Gallery Lock has some extra features just for you. If you fear someone might try to break into the app, you can set the Watch Dog feature. This will automatically snap a photo of anyone who gets your password wrong 3 times in a row.


Another option is to activate the app’s Stealth Mode, which completely hides the app’s icon from your app drawer. This way, no one can know it’s installed, and no one can try breaking in. If you want to launch the app while it’s in stealth mode, you’ll have to dial your password in the dialer app.



Gallery Lock is a pretty sophisticated app. The interface is not the most intuitive, but with some exploring you’ll discover all the features such as advanced sorting and cloud backup.


Just remember, before uninstalling the app you have to unhide your files. Otherwise, they will be lost forever.


Secure Gallery (Free)

Secure Gallery us very similar to Gallery Lock in both principle and function. On the positive side, Secure Gallery doesn’t have ads. On the negative side, it’s even less intuitive than Gallery Lock, especially due to the somewhat broken English it uses in its settings.

Despite that, the main function is simple: choose photos and videos from your gallery and tap “Lock” to hide them in a protected folder.


When you launch the app to view your hidden files, you’ll need to enter a password (number, text or pattern). Just like Gallery Locker, you can hide the app’s icon from the app drawer and launch it using a widget or from the dialer.


This is as far as Secure Gallery gets, though. There’s no Watch Dog mode here, no cloud- backup integration, and no music for your slideshow. If you just want to hide some photos, however, it will work beautifully.

Here too, make sure to unhide all your files before uninstalling the app to avoid losing them.

App Lock – Smart App Protector (Free)

If it’s entire apps you’re worried about, not just some photos, Smart App Protector can help you protect them. Smart App Protector supports four types of passwords: numbers, characters, patterns and gestures. You can set one password for everything, or set several passwords for different apps, just to be on the safe side.

On Smart App Protector’s main screen, choose which apps you’d like to protect. No one will be able to access these apps without knowing your password.


Other than protected apps, you have two more lists: Screen and Rotate. Apps under Screen will keep the screen always on when you’re using them, and apps under Rotate will never auto-rotate.

Just like Gallery Locker, here too you can hide the fact that your apps are password protected. By tapping the “Fake” button next to a locked app, you can make it seem as if it’s crashing every time someone taps it. Long pressing the “OK” button in this dialog will let you enter your password as usual.


If you don’t feel like messing with more settings, you can definitely leave it at that, but Smart App Protector does offer some advanced features worth checking out if you have the patience.

For example, here too you can set an “Observer” mode to snap photos of those who get the password wrong. You can also set your apps to unlock automatically at certain times, when connected to certain Wi-Fi networks, or when connected to certain Bluetooth device. You can even set up a remote password to lock and unlock your phone via SMS.


Smart App Protector can do more than just lock apps, though. The app’s System Lock lets you lock certain phone features such as calls, connectivities, and more. Once you lock such a feature, you’ll need to enter your password every time you want to use it.


Smart App Protector is not a complicated app, but it does take some exploring to discover all the features. Once you get a handle on it, it’s a great way to protect your apps from snooping fingers and too curious friends.

Perfect App Lock (Free with ads)

Made by the same developers as Gallery Locker, this is the perfect app-locker companion if you’re already using Gallery Locker to hide your photos.

Perfect App Locker, as the name suggests, helps you lock and protect apps on your phone so that others can’t access them. It’s similar in principal to Smart App Protector, but there are some differences worth stating.


With Perfect App Lock, each of your apps gets 5 options you can choose from. If you simply lock the app using the lock button, you’ll need to enter your password (PIN, pattern, text or gesture) to access it. The fingerprint icon will launch a fake fingerprint scanner to scare off intruders. The password prompt appears after you long tap the instructions and then “scan” your fingerprint. If you just try to scan, you won’t get far. The warning icon activates a fake error message (hints only appear on first tries).


Another interesting option is the brightness control. To protect your privacy while using an app, you can set it to always launch in low brightness (shake your phone to go back to auto brightness when using it). You can also set apps to never auto-rotate and to keep the screen always on.

In this respect, Perfect App Lock is easier to use than Smart App Protector, but any additional features are a bit harder to find. Scour through the settings to locate things like conditional locking and the ability to lock certain phone features.


Just like Gallery Locker, Perfect App Lock also has the Watch Dog feature which snaps pictures of intruders as they try to break into your apps. You can also start the Perfect App Lock service remotely by sending an SMS to your device.

While the apps’ description says it’s ad-supported, I’ve yet to see one ad while using it, so it’s worth a try even if you hate ads.

Ready For Some Privacy?

Which app should you choose? Start by deciding what it is you want to protect. If it’s only some photos or videos in your gallery, you don’t need a full-fledged app locker. Go for the simple Secure Gallery, or if you want the extra security, try Gallery Lock. If neither of these work for you, try these additional gallery locking methods How to Hide Your Private Photos in Android Gallery Wondering how to hide photos in your Android gallery? Check out these methods to keep your secret photos safe. Read More .

If you’re worried about people accessing other apps such as your emails, texts, phone log and other private information, go for an app locker. Smart App Protector is my personal preference for its better-looking interface, but if you’re into that fake fingerprint scanner, you’ll love Perfect App Lock.

Note that these apps might need a lot of app permissions How Android App Permissions Work and Why You Should Care Android forces apps to declare the permissions they require when they install them. You can protect your privacy, security, and cell phone bill by paying attention to permissions when installing apps – although many users... Read More in order to work, but they do a good job of explaining why they need them, and at the end of the day, your privacy can only gain from using them. Let us know in the comments how you protect your phone from intruders, and which app is your favorite!

Image credit: PlaceIt

Related topics: Smartphone Photography, Smartphone Security.

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  1. vel
    May 3, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    i am in an incredibly private person and i hate people having my phone for any reason, and not because there are nude photos on there... there aren't, i just dont like people going through my stuff.
    apps like these make it less of a drama to me handing my phone to someone.

    • Brewster
      March 17, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      Yaara you came very close to what I want. Give someone my phone to look at photos. The person tries to go to my home screen and bugger my phone. Nope, nada. Can't get to my home screen. Which app here can do this?

  2. Archit S
    April 12, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Another interesting app is the Hide It Pro/Audio Manager which disguises itself into a fully functional Audio Manager. Very Efficient. Full details here-
    [Broken Link Removed]

    • Yaara L
      April 13, 2014 at 9:04 am


  3. Anonymous
    April 11, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    The problem is this article doesn't address encryption. This may giva a false sense of security. Say you loose the phone or someone has the phone that can pull the sd card or connect to a computer many cases it is easy to identify that there is a hidden file or folder or even gain the hidden files or folders. The article also didn't address whether these apps also support video files. Probs though for providing insight to some of the new apps out there.

  4. Kevin
    April 10, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Wow, call me a prude but I didn't realize so many people kept naked/inappropriate pictures of themselves and others on their mobile devices. Maybe a better alternative would be not to take obscene photos of yourself or anyone else in the first place. That got former US Rep. Anthony Wiener (a.k.a. Carlos Danger) in trouble...

    Then again, these apps might help prevent a snafu like this:

    • Yaara L
      April 11, 2014 at 8:21 am

      I think these apps can be useful even if you don't have naked pictures on your phone. :) Sometimes you just don't want people snooping around.

  5. greg
    April 10, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    What about IOS apps?

    • Yaara L
      April 11, 2014 at 8:20 am

      Not entirely sure this would be possible on iOS, but I might be wrong. I don't own an iPhone myself. Perhaps someone else will take on the challenge!

  6. Justin P
    April 9, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    I had no idea there were so many apps for this purpose. Learn something every day.

  7. Guto
    April 9, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Tip: Insert QR CODES next to the apps so people can open directly in App Store ;-)

  8. C J
    April 9, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    I don't "hand" my pone over to anyone. If I have something I want to show them, I hold it in front of them to see.

    • C J
      April 9, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      oops, pone should be phone. Damn auto-incorrect.