How to Lock Down Sensitive Photos on iPhone and Android

Sometimes you want to take a photo just for yourself. Maybe it’s more, uh, personal, maybe it’s directions to a mysterious group in the woods. Among the new features in iOS 16 is a small but useful addition: biometric locks on hidden and deleted books. It’s a small thing, but the hidden folder looks a lot better to store photos in, and it’s almost like Android’s Lock Folder. Now is a good time to understand how these two features work, along with other privacy tools that Apple and Google have built into their photo apps.

Make sure you know your locked and hidden folders

Visually, locked folders on Android are similar to hidden albums on iOS. You can create a folder to authenticate with your fingerprint or your face to see the contents.

But Android’s implementation of locked folders, which should be available on most Android phones running Android 12, is better than Apple’s hidden album. The reason is simple: The photos you send to your locked folder are not uploaded to Google Photos. They live on your device.

However, the photos you add to the hidden folder on iOS sync and other things you sync with Apple Photos. That’s unfortunate for iPhone owners because you want those photos locked away, and you probably don’t want them online, no matter how secure online storage is. But the locked folder is an upgrade, it’s not.

Fortunately, in both cases, the photos you put in these special folders will not appear in any AI-generated memories, albums, etc., so in addition to storing private photos, these folders are also a good place to download them. Anything you don’t want to accidentally appear on your Apple TV screen, say, or in a widget on your phone’s screen. Here’s how to set both up.

Android

Open the Google Photos app and tap it Library > Tools > Configure Locked Folder. Follow the on-screen instructions and add photos to this album. If you want to add more photos later, you can return to this screen, or open a photo, tap the three-point icon, and tap Move to Lock Folder.

iPhone

The ability to lock hidden and deleted albums should be enabled on your iPhone by default, but if it’s not turned off for some reason, go to Settings > Photos and select the Use Face (or Touch) ID. in the “Hidden and deleted books” section. To add photos to a hidden album, tap a photo, tap the three-dot icon, and tap Hidden.

How to get rid of notebooks (or at least).

Photo apps are churning out algorithmic albums, whether it’s “Snowy Days,” “Great Outdoors,” or a collection of selfies. These can be a fun trip down memory lane at times—or they can trigger a series of unwanted memories at others. You can tweak these apps to make them work better for you, or simply delete these built-in albums if they bother you.

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Android

  • Hide people, pets or dates: Open the Google Photos app and tap on your username, then follow Picture Settings > Memory. Here, you can choose to select people or pets that you do not want to appear in the memories, or select specific dates that you do not want.
  • Turn off memories: From the same menu as above, type Selected memories and plugin Memories of time or Subjective memory so that none of those types appear.
  • Use the archive to hide photos you want to keep but don’t see: Google Photos is a storage option for photos that you don’t want to delete and don’t want to lock behind a password but want to prevent. Select a photo, tap the three-dot icon, and select Archivethat photo will not appear in movies or your main album.

iPhone

  • Special memory blocks: Open the Photos app and navigate to the For You tab. On a note, you can type the triple dot symbol, followed by Delete Memory, to remove this memory (this operation does not delete the photos in the album). You can also type A smaller portion… to get the option to show specific dates or people in the album is smaller.
  • Prevent people from appearing in memories: The above method can prevent people from showing up in albums, but it’s easier to navigate to Album tab and scroll down to People & Places. Click on a person and then three points, then follow Features [person] Less. You can choose to make this person’s memories smaller or not show them at all.
  • Turn off all reminders: If the entire auto-album isn’t for you, it’s easy to turn it off. Open it Settings > Photos and plugin Display Content Display.

Review who you’ve shared photos with

If you’ve shared photos with family members, friends, or the public in the past, now is a good time to review those photos and remove access to anything you don’t want. to share.

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Android

Google Photos has a lot of ways to share photos, and it’s a good idea to go back now and again so you don’t share anything you don’t want to. Tap the Sharing tab and remove individual photos and albums that you don’t want to share. To do so, tap the album or photo, the three-dot icon, and then Optionsand plugin Sharing links. If you’ve shared pictures with a friend before using the feature that automatically shares each photo or photo with specific faces, this is a good time to check that you still want to do so.

iPhone

Open the Photos app and select the Album tab. Scroll down Shared album so you can see what you’ve shared. You can delete the album or you can remove specific people by clicking on the three dots icon next Shared Album Details > [person’s name] > Remove Subscribers. Keep this process in mind when the Shared Photo Library launches later this year.

One privacy tip: Check your photo permissions

Forcing the photo app itself is a part-time job, but don’t forget photo-related permissions in other apps. It’s a good idea to double-check this setting every now and then to make sure no app accesses more photos than you need.

  • Android: Open it Settings > Privacy > Privacy Manager > Photos and videos. Scroll through the list of apps and change the settings you don’t like.
  • iPhone: Open it Settings > Privacy & Security > Photos scroll through the list of apps and deny access to unwanted apps.
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Other privacy news we’re watching

💸 This past month there have been many data breaches and hacking. The most serious breach happened to Uber, but let’s not forget U-Haul, 2K Games, LAUSD, American Airlines or LastPass. As always, keep an eye on your email for data-breach notifications, monitor your accounts, and change infected passwords. If you can, set up two-factor authentication on one of those accounts. If you have children who attend a school in the LAUSD (or any school affected by a ransomware attack), consider freezing their credit.

🩹Many patches were released this past month. Remember to update your iPhone (even if you’re not updating to iOS 16), as Apple has patched a major security flaw. The same goes for Android, which is a little flawed; Google Chrome, which patched 11 vulnerabilities; and WhatsApp, patched both issues. Microsoft Windows is the leader in terms of numbers this month, though, after the last patch had 64 vulnerabilities (down from 141 in August). Finally, if you have an HP laptop with HP Support Assistant installed, update it now, because the fix fixes a very serious issue that can be accessed by an attacker. This vulnerability only affects older computers, however; we noticed that our Specter x360 is running an updated version of the software. As always, run those automatic updates whenever possible.

🔎 Google is improving its tool where you can request that your personal information be removed from the search. Previously, you had to jump through a series of hoops and fill out multiple forms if the product required personal information such as your phone number or address, but soon you will be able to submit a request from the Google Search app. Better yet, sometime in the next year you may receive an alert when personal information becomes available to begin with.

This article was edited by Jason Chen.

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