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How to lock apps on Android (and why you should)

If you want to temporarily enhance security on your Android device, such as a Google Pixel 8 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, consider using an app lock.

Difficulty

Easy

Duration

5 minutes

What You Need

  • Your Android-based device

You've probably found yourself in a situation where you're letting someone else use your phone to play a game or use a specific app, but you don't want them snooping through the rest of your phone. This is where app locking can really come in handy — and it's extremely easy to set up.

App Pinning on Android showing on phone being passed between two people.
Bryan M. Wolfe / Digital Trends

Why you should lock apps on Android

When you lock an app on your Android device, you immediately restrict access to only it. A user must provide a PIN, pattern, fingerprint, or other credential to unlock the device beyond the locked app.

Locking an app doesn't automatically encrypt its data. While it does create a hurdle for access, someone with access to your phone and knowledge of your unlock credentials could still access the app’s data.

When you pin an app, you limit access to all other apps and functions on your device. This helps you concentrate on the task at hand, whether working on an app or playing a game.

App pinning is a privacy safeguard. If you need to pass your phone to someone, app pinning allows them to use the pinned app while ensuring they can’t access your other apps, photos, messages, or private information, giving you peace of mind.

App pinning benefits parents who want to control their children’s phone usage. Parents can ensure their kids don’t view content or make purchases by pinning an educational app or game.

The app drawer on a Moto G Stylus 5G (2024).
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

How to lock apps on Android

The recommended method for locking apps on Android is to use the built-in pinning feature. The Android pinning feature, also known as screen pinning, is a security tool that allows you to lock your device to a single app.

Step 1: To get started, go into the Settings app on your Android device. Search for and select App Pinning.

Step 2: On the next page, scroll down and choose App Pinning. It should be in the off position.

Screenshot showing how to open App Pinning on Android.
Bryan M. Wolfe / Digital Trends

Step 3: Toggle on App Pinning. Select OK.

Screenshot showing how to turn on App Pinning on Android.
Bryan M. Wolfe / Digital Trends

Step 4: The next step is to Open the app you wish to pin. Once the app is opened, Swipe up from the bottom of your screen to see the recently opened apps.

Step 5: Select the app icon, then choose Pin from the menu. Select Got It to confirm your choice. The app is now pinned.

Screenshot showing an app being pinned on Android.
Bryan M. Wolfe / Digital Trends

Step 6: To unpin an item, press and hold the Back and Overview (or Home) buttons.

App pinning works for any app/game installed on your phone, so feel free to use it however you see fit. There's also no limit to how many times you can pin an app or how long you can keep it pinned for.

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Bryan M. Wolfe
Bryan M. Wolfe has over a decade of experience as a technology writer. He writes about mobile.
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