The smartphone revolution has rendered conventional digital cameras obsolete for the casual photographer. Of course, photography hobbyists still use them, but most people just whip out their phone when they want to capture a scene.
The change has some implications for privacy. On digital cameras, it’s much easier to hide certain photos you don’t want everyone seeing. But these days, everything you shoot ends up in your phone’s photo gallery. A curious set of eyes could easily see images you don’t want them to view.
Perhaps you’ve got snaps of confidential information, gift ideas for a loved one, or just endless memes you want to remove from your main photo reel. Whatever the reason, it’s easy to hide certain photos and folders from the gallery. Here’s how.
Two mainstream phone manufacturers have built-in privacy tools that can help you hide photos. They are Samsung and LG.
On a Samsung device, head to the phone’s Gallery (not Google Photos) and long-press on all the pictures you want to hide.
When you’ve selected them all, tap More in the top right-hand corner and choose Move to Private in the pop-up menu.
Next, you need to enable Private Mode. Go to Settings > Privacy and Safety > Private Mode. If it’s the first time you’ve used the feature, you’ll be prompted to create a PIN, password, or fingerprint authentication.
When private mode is turned on, you’ll be able to see all the photos you’ve hidden as normal. If it’s turned off, there will be no sign of them in the Gallery; nobody will know they exist.
(Note: You can hide any file or folder on the phone using this method.)
The process on LG handsets is slightly different.
This time, start by heading to Settings > Fingerprints and Security > Content Lock. Once again, the phone will ask you to secure the feature using a PIN, password, or fingerprint scan.
Now go to your phone’s default gallery app. Select all the photos you want to hide and tap Menu > More > Lock. You can also lock entire folders of pictures if you wish.
When you’ve tapped Lock, the photos/folders will vanish from the library. To view them, navigate to Menu > Show Locked Files. Enter your security credentials, and the photos will reappear.
Use a File Manager
If you don’t own a Samsung or LG phone, don’t despair. You still have options available, but the process is slightly more convoluted.
You can either use a file manager to perform some tricks or rely on third-party tools that specialize in hiding content.
Let’s investigate two file manager tricks first.
Create a New Folder
Before you can begin, you need to install a high-quality file manager on your phone. There are lots to choose from; if you’re not sure which one to download, check out our guide to the best file managers in the Play Store.
Once you’ve made a decision and installed a file manager, fire up the app. You need to create a new folder that starts with a period (for example, .PrivateFiles or .Secret).
Next, move all the photos you want to hide into the newly created folder. The method for doing this varies from app to app, but typically long-pressing on the file you want to move will give you the option.
Any files you relocate will no longer show in the gallery app. Without going into too much detail, any folder that begins with a period does not get scanned by the phone’s software.
Create a “.Nomedia” File
If you’ve got hundreds of photos you want to hide, it’s impractical to move them all manually. Instead, it’s easier to create a .nomedia file in the folders you want to obscure.
If your phone sees a .nomedia file in a folder, it won’t load the folder’s contents when it scans your directory.
To create the file, you’ll still need a third-party file manager app. Use it to navigate to the folder you want to hide and create a new file in the directory called .nomedia (make sure you include the period). The file does not need to have any contents — the filename is the important part.
To reverse the process, just delete the .nomedia file.
(Warning: While both these methods hide content from the photo library, the images will still be visible in any file manager. They are not password-protected.)
If fiddling around in a file manager app sounds too cumbersome, you can use a third-party app that specializes in hiding photos.
Here are three of the best:
Vaulty has established itself as the leading app for hiding content. 93 percent of its 320,000 reviewers have awarded it either four or five stars.
It comes with its own photo gallery. Any photos you lock are only viewable within it. The gallery also lets you create multiple vaults, meaning you can have different sets of photos to show to different people.
All your content is password-protected, and it even backs up your media so it’s safe if you lose your phone.
Download: Vaulty (Free)
2. Keepsafe Vault
Keepsafe Vault is Vaulty’s largest competitor. The feature set is very similar; all your photos are password-protected and encrypted, and you can backup your photos to the app’s cloud storage.
The app also comes with a feature that hides the on-screen icon, meaning no one who picks up your phone will know you’re hiding things.
Lastly, it has a Snapchat-esque feature, letting you share photos with other people using the app that will self-delete after 20 seconds.
Download: Keepsafe Vault (Free)
3. Hide Something
Hide Something is my final recommendation. Once again, you can hide photos behind PINs and passwords, and all your pictures will be backed up on Google Drive.
The app also has a couple of unique features. First, you can save any file or folder on your phone into its vault using the share menu, and second, the app won’t show up in your recently used apps list.
Download: Hide Something (Free)
How do You Hide Photos on Android?
In this article, I’ve shown you an array of tricks and tools for hiding any photos from prying eyes.
It seems strange that the Android operating system doesn’t offer the feature natively; hopefully, it will become part of a future update. However, for now, you’ll have to rely on these various workarounds.
I’d love to know what else you would add to this list. Which tricks do you use? Did I leave out your favorite app? Do you know about some other file manager tricks?
You can leave all your tips and suggestions in the comments below.
Image Credit: Pop Paul-Catalin via Shutterstock.com
Originally written by Angela Randall on April 29th, 2011.