Apple’s Photos app has a built-in “Hide” function, but it doesn’t prevent people who have access to your phone from snooping around. If you want to make sure your private photos and videos really stay private, we have some better tips.
How to Hide Photos and Videos in the Photos App
When you snap a photo on your iPhone or iPad, it ends up in your photo library alongside your other photos. If you often whip out your phone to show off pics of your cute cat, there might be photos or videos you don’t want others to see while you browse.
To prevent photos and videos from appearing in your normal library, you can use the “Hide” option in the iOS Photos app. This hides the photo or video from the main library view under the “Photos” tab. It won’t show up while you browse, and you won’t receive “For You” recommendations based on it, either.
Follow these steps to hide a photo or video:
- Find the photo or video you want to hide.
- Tap “Share” in the bottom-left corner.
- Scroll down and tap “Hide.”
The photo is now hidden from view. Everything you hide appears in an album called “Hidden” under the “Albums” tab in the Photos app. Scroll to the bottom of the list, and you’ll see it under “Other Albums.”
The Problem with Hiding Things in the Photos App
When you use the method described above to hide a photo or video, it provides very little protection. You can’t “lock” the hidden album, or even hide a photo behind a Face or Touch ID, or passcode.
The biggest issue is all of your hidden media is accessible in a single location. Anyone who has access to your unlocked phone can open your Hidden folder with a few taps.
All the “Hide” function really does is tidy up your main library. It allows you to hold on to some photos without deleting them entirely. Although many iPhone and iPad owners embrace this trick, you might want to avoid it if you actually want to hide your private media.
If someone else might have access to your unlocked phone, and you’re concerned about privacy, don’t use the “Hide” feature. It’s ideal if you want to tidy up your library, but you don’t want to make it an easy-to-find repository of your most embarrassing media.
Apple could improve this if the “Hidden” album were locked behind a passcode or password, along with the option of requiring Face or Touch ID to access it.
We hope something similar will be introduced in iOS 14, or a future version of Apple’s operating system.
How to Hide Photos in the Notes App
Apple includes a Notes app, and one of its standout features is the ability to lock individual notes. This means you can add media to a note, and then add a password. You can require Face or Touch ID to unlock password-protected notes, as well. Also, after you lock a photo or video in a note, you can delete it from the main photo library.
First, you have to send the photo or video to Notes; follow these steps:
- Find the image or video you want to hide with Notes. (You can select multiple files.)
- Tap the Share icon in the bottom-left corner.
- Scroll through the list of apps and tap “Notes.” (If you don’t see it, tap “More,” and then select “Notes” from the list of apps that appears.)
- Select the note to which you want to save the attachments (by default, this will be a “New Note”), and then type a text description in the field below.
- Tap “Save” to export your media to Notes.
Now, follow these steps to lock the note you just created:
- Launch the Notes app and find the note you just created (it should be at the top of the list).
- Swipe left on the title of the note to reveal the Padlock icon.
- Tap the Padlock icon to lock the note. If you haven’t locked a note before, you’ll be asked to create a password and enable Face or Touch ID. You’ll use this password for all locked notes, so make sure it’s something you’ll remember or store it in a password manager.
From now on, to lock or unlock the note, tap it, and then authorize access with your password, face recognition, or fingerprint.
There are limitations to this method, too. For example, you can’t share attachments from Photos to an existing note that’s locked, even if you unlock it manually beforehand. This makes it difficult to use a single note for all your hidden content.
However, you can create a folder (e.g., “Private” or “Hidden”) within the Notes app and put any private notes in there. While not ideal, this method offers more security than Apple’s unsecured “Hidden” album.
If you use this method, though, don’t forget to go back to your photo library and delete any photos you’ve hidden in Notes!
Use Secure Notes in Your Password Manager
Some apps, like password managers, are designed with security in mind. They make it easy to use unique credentials across the web by remembering a single master password. Most password managers store more than just passwords, too.
This includes, but isn’t limited to, banking information, scanned copies of important documents, birth certificates, and even photos or videos. This method is similar to storing your private media in Notes, except you use a third-party app or service instead.
Any password manager that allows you to add attachments to notes should do the job. However, your mileage might vary with video content due to the amount of space required. When it comes to which password manager to use, check out LastPass, 1Password, Dashlane, or Bitwarden.
Do keep in mind that many password managers sync via the web, which means your hidden content will be uploaded to the internet. Of course, it will be protected by your master password, which is more secure than syncing with iCloud Photos, or any other online photo service.
Hide Photos and Videos in a File Locker App
You can also use a dedicated file locker to hide images or videos you’d rather keep private. These apps are designed specifically with privacy in mind. They offer a simple passcode or password lock, and an area in which you can store files. You open the app, unlock it with your password or passcode, and then you can access any media you’ve stored there—simple!
Folder Lock, Private Photo Vault, Keepsafe, and Secret Apps Photo Lock are just a few of the many file locker apps available in the App Store. Choose one you trust. Make sure it has decent reviews and doesn’t lock too many features behind in-app purchases.
Again, remember if you use this method, you still have to delete the media you want to hide from the main Photos app library after you store it in a file locker.
Consider Deleting Those Photos From Your Phone
Rather than keeping private photos and videos locked up on your device, you might want to consider storing them elsewhere. Perhaps they would be more secure on your home computer than your phone. That way, they can’t be easily found if you leave your phone unattended.
The easiest way to do this is to simply move them from your device. If you have a Mac, you can do this wirelessly via AirDrop. Find the photos you want to move, tap Share, and then select “AirDrop” followed by your Mac to start the transfer.
You can also plug your iPhone or iPad into your Mac or Windows computer. Select “Trust” to approve the device, and then import your images the same as you would from a digital camera.
macOS Photos automatically prepares to import media when you connect an iPhone. If you have a Windows 10 computer, use an equivalent photos app to do the same. Older versions of Windows load your iPhone as a plain old removable drive, which makes it easy to import your photos.
If you don’t want the hassle of importing manually, you can use a service like Google Photos or Dropbox instead. Just keep in mind, there’s an inherent risk involved any time you put images online. Plus, you have to consider whether you trust a corporation like Google with your most private data.
And again, don’t forget to delete your source photos or videos after you move them.
Keep Your Phone Secure
It’s important to ensure other people can’t easily unlock your phone—especially if you store private photos in the standard “Hidden” folder in the Photos app. You can add a passcode to protect it—just go to Settings > Face ID and Passcode (or Settings > Touch ID and Passcode, on older devices and iPad).
Also, avoid leaving your phone unattended, and if you do, make sure it’s locked behind a passcode only you know.
Some other ways you can maintain a higher level of security for your iPhone include reviewing its security and privacy settings regularly and following a few basic iOS security rules.