How to Lock Apps on Android

What to Know

  • To enable screen pinning in Android 10/9, go to Settings > Biometrics and security > Other security settings > Advanced > Pin windows.
  • To enable screen pinning in Android 8 and 7, go to Settings > Lock screen and security > Other security settings > Pin windows.
  • You can also use third-party apps like Samsung Secure Folder, App Lock, and Norton App Lock to lock your Android apps.

This article explains three different ways on how to lock apps on an Android device. Instructions apply to Android 10, 9 (Pie), 8 (Oreo), and 7 (Nougat).


How to Lock Apps on Android With Screen Pinning

Screen pinning locks an app in open view. Attempting to close it or access the home screen prompts the lock screen security input.

To see which version of Android is installed on your device, go to Settings, then tap About Phone > Software Information.

For Android 10 and Android 9.0 Pie

Pin an app’s screen to keep it in view until you unpin it.

  1. Open Settings and select Security or Biometrics and security > Other security settings.

  2. Scroll down to Advanced.

  3. Select the toggle next to Pin windows. .

  4. Turn on the Screen pinning toggle switch to enable screen pinning.

    To get the most out of screen pinning and guest accounts, set a secure lock screen pin, password, or pattern beforehand.

  5. Select Ask for PIN before unpinning to enable it for increased security.

  6. Select the Overview icon (the square at the bottom of the screen), then tap the app icon you wish to pin.

    If your phone doesn’t have an Overview button, you need to swipe up find the app you want to pin, and tap its icon at the top.

  7. Select Pin this app.

    You may get a Turn on Pin notification. Select OK to continue.

  8. Press and hold Back and Overview simultaneously to unpin the app.

    Some Android phones require you to press and hold Back and Home to unpin.

  9. Enter your pin, pattern, password, or biometric security option to unpin the screen.

  10. The app is unpinned.

For Android 8.0 Oreo and 7.0 Nougat

If you’re using an older version of Android, the instructions are a bit different.

On some phones running Android 7.0, you get through steps 1, 2, and 3 via: Settings > Security > Screen pinning.

  1. Open Settings, then tap Lock screen and security.

  2. Select Other security settings.

  3. Select Pin windows.

    On some phones running Android 7.0, you’ll need to go to Settings > Security > Screen pinning.

  4. Select the toggle to enable screen pinning.

  5. Select the Use screen lock type to unpin toggle switch to enable it.

    On some phones running 7.0, the option is called Ask for unlock pattern before unpin.

  6. Select Overview, then hover over the app window you want to lock to the front.

  7. Select the thumbtack in the lower-right corner, then tap Start.

    On some phones running 7.0, press GOT IT after pressing the tack.

  8. Select and hold the Back and Overview icons to unpin the window.

    On some phones running 7.0, you only need to press and hold the Back button to unpin.

  9. Enter your pattern, pin, password, or scan your biometric security option to unpin the app.

Lock Apps on Android With the Samsung Secure Folder

With Secure Folder, you can protect selected apps by locking them with the security option of your choice. If your device didn’t come with Secure Folder and it has Android 7 or higher, download it from Google Play or Galaxy apps.

Secure Folder comes pre-installed on all of Samsung’s flagship devices, going back to the Galaxy S7 series.

  1. Select Settings, then tap Biometrics and security.

  2. Select Secure Folder.

  3. Tap Agree on the splash screen and then log in to your Samsung account, if prompted.

  4. Select Lock type.

  5. Select Pattern, Pin, or Password (or a biometric option, if available), then continue by entering your selection and confirming it.

  6. Select Secure Folder from the app drawer, then tap Add apps.

  7. Select the apps you wish to include in Secure Folder, then tap Add.

  8. Select Lock and exit in the upper-right corner.

  9. A brief message appears indicating Secure Folder is now locked. Attempting to access Secure Folder prompts the lock type you selected earlier.

  10. Enter your pattern, pin, password, or scan your biometric security option.

  11. The app is unpinned.

How to Lock Apps on Android With Mobile Applications

Mobile tools such as App Lock and Security Master lock your apps and protect your files. Most apps that lock or protect your device’s content require a few permissions and system privileges, such as displaying over other apps and accessibility usages.

How to Set a Password for Apps With Norton App Lock on Android

Norton App Lock by Symantec is a useful tool for protecting applications and private files stored on your device. Norton App Lock is free to download and supports Android 4.1 and up. You can restrict access to all apps or choose specific apps to lock:

  1. Go to the Norton App Lock Google Play page, then select Install.

  2. Once installed, select Open.

  3. Review the License Agreement, Terms of Use, and the Privacy Policy, then select Agree & Launch.

  4. When prompted for permission, select OK.

  5. Select the Allow display over other apps toggle switch.

  6. Tap the back button. Tap Setup.

  7. Select Installed services.

  8. Select Norton App Lock Service.

  9. Toggle the Off switch.

  10. Tap Allow.

  11. Tap the Back arrow. You should see Norton App Lock Service set to On.

  12. Tap Back twice.

  13. Draw an unlock pattern or tap Switch to Passcode, then enter a password.

  14. Draw your unlock pattern again to confirm, or tap Reset to re-enter it.

  15. Select Choose Google Account.

  16. Select the Google account you wish to use for password resetting, then select OK.

  17. Select Continue.

  18. Select the yellow lock icon in the upper-right corner, then select the lock next to the apps you wish to passcode protect.

    Select the yellow lock whenever you want to enable or disable the app lock.

  19. Once apps are locked, only the passcode you created earlier will grant access.

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