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If you use a shared computer, one way to keep other users off certain apps is to require a password for opening that app. You can password-protect individual applications with a third-party application.

Should You Even Do This? Read These Limitations

In this tutorial, we’ll be using My Lockbox, which provides a free and paid version. There are other third-party applications available that provide free-trials—including Folder Guard, which can also protect apps—but require you to purchase a license after the trial ends.

Freeware isn’t known for its privacy or security. There are risks involved when using freeware as a quick and easy means to an end. Almost all freeware comes bundled with bloatware and, while most bloatware isn’t malicious, that’s not always the case. But even if the bloatware isn’t malicious in itself, it does consume disk space which in turn can slow down your computer—a price most aren’t willing to pay for free software.

RELATED: Spread the Word: Ninite is the Only Safe Place to Get Windows Freeware

The particular freeware application we’re using in this article does a good job of doing what it says it does: password protecting folders (and the apps within those folders) and preventing access from unauthorized users. However, there are ways around this. If someone is signed in with an administrator account, for example, they can work around Lockbox by changing the Windows permissions, gaining access to the previously locked folders. While not the easiest thing to do, it is possible.

Alternatives to Password-Protecting Apps

If you want to truly password-protect applications, there are other measures you can take aside from downloading third-party applications. For example, if your goal is to regulate the content and screen time for your child, you can set rules using Windows 10’s parental controls.

You can use separate Windows user accounts to prevent other people who use a shared PC from accessing your files, too.

If you want to protect certain apps on your computer that are business-related, but you have a shared account with a spouse, you can create an encrypted container file and install the app to that location.

That said, if what you need is a quick and (ideally) temporary solution, here’s what you can do.

RELATED: How to Password Protect Files and Folders With Encryption

Lock Apps on Windows 10

First, download and install My Lockbox by going to the “My Lockbox” page on the FSPro Labs website and clicking the “Download” button.

Download button on my lockbox website

Once downloaded, double-click the “mylockbox_setup” icon. This will launch the My Lockbox installation wizard.

The wizard will carry you through the setup process. The first two windows will ask you to select a language and accept the License Agreement. After that, you’ll be asked to choose a folder to install My Lockbox. This is C:\Program Files\My Lockbox by default. If you want to change the location, click “Browse” and then select the location in which to install My Lockbox. Otherwise, click “Next.”

You’ll need at least 9 MB of free disk space to install My Lockbox.

Continue through the wizard and, at the end, click “Install.” Installation of the software should only take a few seconds.

Install button in installation wizard

My Lockbox will now be installed. Double-click the app icon to launch it.

The first thing you’ll be asked to do when launching the app is to add a password. Enter a strong password and type it again to confirm it. If necessary, add a hint and your email address to recover the password in case you forget.

Click “OK” to continue.

Enter password and recovery email

Next, you’ll be asked to select the folder you’d like to protect. What you’ll want to do here is select the folder that contains the app you want to lock. If you lock the folder that contains the app, you will not be able to open the app–even if you try to access the app from the start menu or desktop shortcut.

Click “Browse” to open File Explorer.

Browse File Explorer to select the folder to protect.

Navigate to the folder that contains the app you would like to lock, click it to select it and then click “OK.” In this example, we’ll select the folder that contains Google Chrome.

Select folder to lock

Confirm the file path in the “Folder to Protect” box and then click “OK.”

Confirm folder and select ok

You’ll now be denied access when trying to launch the app.

To open the app, launch My Lockbox and enter the password. Click “OK.”

The contents of the locked folder will now appear in the “My Lockbox File Browser.” You can double-click the app here, or anywhere else, to launch it.

Contents of locked folder

The app will now be accessible without protection until you enable the setting again. To do so, click the “Enable Protection” button in the top-right corner of the My Lockbox app.

Enable protection

The app inside the folder will now be behind the password wall again. Be sure to enable this protection feature each time you’re finished using the app.

Profile Photo for Marshall Gunnell Marshall Gunnell
Marshall is a writer with experience in the data storage industry. He worked at Synology, and most recently as CMO and technical staff writer at StorageReview. He's currently an API/Software Technical Writer based in Tokyo, Japan, runs VGKAMI and ITEnterpriser, and spends what little free time he has learning Japanese.
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