How to set up a locked folder in Google Photos on Android (and why you should)

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Photo illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/Lightrocket via Getty Images

Did you know that Google Photos on Android offers the option to create a locked folder? Why would you even want this? You may want to take photos of your personal documents, such as vaccination cards or your diving certification, to keep handy, or you may have photos or videos that you won’t show anyone else.

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For such images, you can set up a locked folder in Google Photos on Android and store those documents and other images for safekeeping. Once you do, the only way to view the images is with your standard screen unlock authentication (eg fingerprint scanner).

Of course, there is a caveat to using a locked folder. Any photos or videos stored in that folder will not be backed up to your cloud account. So choose the photos and videos you want to lock wisely Or, better yet, make sure you save a copy of that folder in a secure (“encrypted”) folder on your local machine.

Also: How to Encrypt a Folder on MacOS (and Why You Should)

I am going to demonstrate how to set a locked folder in Google Photos on Android 12 Pixel 6 Pro. This process should work the same regardless of device, as long as you have Android version 12 or newer.

How to Create Locked Folders

Open Google Photos on your Android device. In the main window, tap Utilities.


The main Google Photos window in Android 12.

Jack Wallen/ZDNet

In the resulting window, tap Set locked folder.


Tools section of Google Photos in Android 12.

Jack Wallen/ZDNet

As of this writing, Android no longer allows taking screenshots (as it’s considered a sensitive area), so just follow the instructions carefully (don’t worry, it’s easy).

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On the next screen, tap on Set Up in the bottom right corner of the screen. You will then be asked to authenticate using your default method (such as fingerprint, face scan, PIN, or pattern). After successful authentication, you will be greeted with a window saying Nothing here yet and a Remove Item button. Tap Remove Items to open the file picker, where you can select all the photos (or videos) you want to add to your locked folder.

Tap to select the photo you want to move to the locked folder, then tap Move at the top right of the screen.


It seems that the file picker is not considered a sensitive area in Android.

Jack Wallen/ZDNet

You will be asked to authenticate yourself again. After that, Android will give you one last warning:

  • Related photos (including copy and edited versions) will not be removed.
  • Items are deleted when Google Photos is deleted.

Tap Continue, then Move (if prompted) and Photos will create the locked folder and add the selected photos.

How to access locked folders

Now that you’ve created the locked folder and added photos/videos, how do you access it? Simply open Google Photos, tap Tools, and scroll to the bottom of the page, where you’ll see the Locked Folder entry.


The Locked Folder entry is located in the Google Folder Utilities section.

Jack Wallen/ZDNet

Tap that entry and once you’ve successfully verified yourself, you’ll be presented with all the photos and videos you’ve added to the locked folder.

Use this feature wisely and it will keep eyes away from your more sensitive photos. I recommend using this feature for those who keep pictures of driver’s licenses, credit cards, vaccination cards and the like. Additional protection can prevent someone from coming across information you don’t want to see.

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Tags: set locked folder Google Photos Android

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