It’s easy to get distracted with so many apps on your phone. The best way to cut back on your screen time is to get these apps out of your sight. Plus, if you’re a parent, you don’t want your kids to have access to all those apps—especially sensitive ones like banking.
Fortunately, you can hide and restrict apps on Android. Here’s how to do so, whether you want to hide apps from yourself, others, or children.
How to Hide Apps on Android
There are several scenarios where you’d want to hide a specific app on your phone.
Parents may want to ensure their kids don’t accidentally end up placing orders through saved credit card details, for example. You can also hide apps from your prankish friends who would be happy to browse your personal chats and send goofy responses.
In addition, hiding addictive apps like Instagram can help you curb your smartphone addiction. Since you’re not uninstalling them from your phone completely, you can always have a cheat day and use them whenever you want to.
1. Calculator Vault
This handy tool can camouflage any app on your phone as a standard calculator utility.
Calculator Vault duplicates the app you’d like to hide in its own separate space. Once you’ve added the app here, you can uninstall it from your phone. While the app in question will no longer be normally available anywhere else on your phone, you can still continue accessing it from Calculator Vault.
The app lets you protect it with a password; its lock screen resembles a calculator to trick unauthorized users. But when you enter your PIN on the number pad or scan your finger, the app will unlock and reveal its true function. Apart from that, Calculator Vault has other visual characteristics to help it blend in, like the icon and name of a regular calculator app.
There’s also a setting to keep it from showing up in the multitasking menu. For notifications, you can ask Calculator Vault to only display the number of pending notifications instead of their content, or you can turn them off entirely.
Download: Calculator Vault (Free)
2. Google Family Link
Google’s Family Link service is a great mobile supervision tool for parents. It allows you to monitor and take control of your child’s Android phone.
With Family Link, you can remotely hide apps on your kid’s phone. All you need to do is select the apps you’d like to hide, and Family Link will automatically get rid of them without actually uninstalling the apps.
Plus, Family Link offers you the ability to keep tabs on your children’s phone activities and which apps they’re spending time with. The app even lets you set restrictions, approve downloads and in-app purchases, and lock the phone remotely. A location feature is also available, which lets you track the connected phone’s whereabouts.
If you’re unsatisfied with Google Family Link’s feature set, take a look at other parental control apps for Android.
Download: Google Family Link (Free)
How to Restrict Apps on Android
The process of hiding apps can feel a little extreme, depending on your usage. As an alternative, you can place restrictions on apps. That enables you to steadily overcome your (or your child’s) mental craving for them.
You can either restrict particular apps, or choose a time period where you won’t be able to use your phone.
1. Digital Wellbeing
Starting with Android 9 Pie, phones running stock Android have a built-in utility that records your daily device usage and tells you exactly what takes up your time. It’s available at Settings > Digital Wellbeing & parental controls. In case you can’t find it, you will need to download the app from Google Play.
With Digital Wellbeing, you can set up app limits. When an app’s time allowance expires for the day, its icon will appear grayed out and you won’t be able to open it anymore. Android will also block the app’s notifications so you aren’t tempted to disable the limit after seeing an unread message or comment.
To configure an app limit, launch Digital Wellbeing. Tap Dashboard, then select the app you’d like to place a restriction on. Touch the App Timer option and define your daily allowance. Finally, hit the OK button.
If your phone doesn’t officially support Digital Wellbeing yet, you can use a third-party alternative. We recommend taking a look at ActionDash.
ActionDash has all the features of Digital Wellbeing and more. It offers exhaustive insights on your screen time, a dark theme, app limits, and a host of other customization options. Unlike Digital Wellbeing, ActionDash works on any phone running Android 5 Lollipop or later.
While ActionDash is a free download, both app limits and downtime mode are premium features. This requires a $7 upgrade.
2. Google Family Link and Google Play Store Restrictions
In addition to letting you hide apps, Google Family Link has an option for setting app limits. It functions similar to Digital Wellbeing. Hence, once the user exhausts their daily limit, they won’t be able to use that app until the next day. The difference here is that only the parent has the ability to control and adjust the restrictions.
To learn how to set this up and set app limits, see our guide to protecting a child’s phone with Family Link.
Parents can also take advantage of the Google Play Store’s parental controls to establish download restrictions. You have the choice to set the content rating for apps, games, movies, and music. Along with this, the Play Store asks you to configure a PIN lock so that a child can’t simply tweak the restrictions from the settings.
You can find parental controls at Google Play Store > Left menu > Settings > Parental Controls. Google Play rates games and apps using the rating system for your region, so have a look at our guide to ESRB and PEGI ratings to learn more.
Cut Back on Smartphone Usage With Practical Tips
Addicting apps are the reason it’s so hard to put your phone down. Using these methods, you can hide and restrict the apps that take up most of your time.
However, there’s a lot more you can do to curb your smartphone addiction. You don’t have to give up on everything to make a positive change. Here are practical tips to cut back on your smartphone usage.