How to Lock Photos on Your iPhone & Hide Them from View

What to Know

  • If you want to password-protect certain photos, you can place them in the Hidden photos folder in the Photos app.
  • Otherwise, to lock your photos on iPhone, you can set up a system in Shortcuts. 
  • Alternatively, you can use the Screen Time feature to lock photos on your iPhone.

If you want certain pictures to remain private, your first line of defense should be to make sure you have a passcode or FaceID set up so that you have to sign into your device. But if that's not enough protection, you have two options to lock photos on your iPhone: you can hide specific images in a locked Photos album, or you can lock the entire Photos app. Below, we'll cover how to place specific photos in a locked folder, as well as a couple of ways to lock your Photos app. 

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Hide & Lock Specific Photos on Your iPhone

While the other options in this article cover how to lock your entire Photos app (so you need a passcode anytime you want to access the Photos app), you can also hide photos on your iPhone. When you hide a photo in your iPhone Photos app, it is removed from your main Camera roll and placed in a locked Hidden folder. You'll still be able to open the Photos app without entering a passcode, but you will need to enter the set passcode anytime you want to view images in the Hidden folder. It's a great way to hide specific images you want to remain private, while leaving the rest of your camera roll available to scroll through.

Lock the Photos App on Your iPhone via Shortcuts

Before you can set up a shortcut to lock your Photos app, you will need to set up Face ID on your iPhone, if you haven't already done so. (If you need to enter a passcode or use FaceID to access your device, this is already set up.) Here's how to lock your Photos app by creating a shortcut: 

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  1. On your iPhone, open Shortcuts.

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  2. Under the Automation tab, tap New Automation.

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  3. In the search field, type "App." Tap it from the results.

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  4. Tap Choose.

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  5. Select the Photos app.

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  6. Tap Done.

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  7. Select Is Opened.

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  8. Select Run Immediately.

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  9. Leave Notify When Run toggled off. 

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  10. Tap Next.

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  11. Tap New Blank Automation.

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  12. Tap Add Action.

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  13. Type Lock Screen in the search field and then tap it from the results.

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  14. Tap Done to save your new shortcut.

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Now, every time you or someone else opens the Photos app, it will close almost immediately and lock your entire iPhone. It's kind of like a panic button and will definitely work to stop people snooping through your camera roll. If you like learning cool ways to use your iPhone, be sure to sign up for our free Tip of the Day!

Lock the Photos App on iPhone with Screen Time Restrictions

Another hidden way to lock photos on your iPhone is to use the Screen Time feature, which will lock the Photos app behind a passcode. Learn more about how to use Screen Time on your iPhone. Once you've gotten your Screen Time set up and working, follow the steps below. 

  1. On your iPhone, open Settings.

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  2. Tap Screen Time. Make sure App & Website Activity has already been turned on.

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  3. Tap Lock Screen Time Settings.

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  4. From here, enter a passcode that will be specific to your Screen Time settings. You can use whatever password you want. You may need to enter your Apple ID email address and password at this step.

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  5. Tap App Limits.

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  6. Tap Add Limit.

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  7. Enter your Screen Time passcode.

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  8. Search for Photos and tap it in the results.

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  9. Tap Add.

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  10. Tap Next.

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  11. Set the timer to one minute (the minimum).

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  12. Toggle on Block at End of Limit.

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  13. Then, tap Add to save the limit. Now, the Photos app will automatically lock after one minute of use.

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  14. When you're ready to unlock the Photos app, tap Ask For More Time.

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  15. Then, tap Enter Screen Time Passcode.

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  16. From here, enter the passcode you created, and you will be able to access the app again. 

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And that's how you use Screen Time to lock the Photos app on your iPhone. This is not quite as secure as the Shortcuts system because it still allows a person to view the app for up to one minute before locking it. Remember, never give out your password to anyone you don't trust. Also, don't forget to make a mental note of the password you created! Hopefully, you feel safe knowing your photos are extra protected!


  • How do I make my photos private on my iPhone? The quickest way to make certain photos private, meaning remove them from your Camera Roll and place them in a locked folder, is by using the Hidden folder in the Photos app
  • Why do my still photos move? Your photos may be moving because you have Live Photo turned on. Learn how to turn off live photos to make your photos still again. 
  • Can you lock an app on iPhone? If you want to lock apps on your iPhone, follow the same steps above but substitute the Photos app for any other app you want.
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Author Details

Rachel Needell's picture

Author Details

Rachel Needell

Rachel Needell is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life, and a poet and author. With 10-plus years of experience working with Apple devices, she specializes in all-things iPad and is a Notes App expert, having worked on both the 2023 iPad Guide and the Notes App Guide. You can usually find her writing in the Daily Tip newsletter as one of our senior Tip writers. Rachel received her Master’s degree in English Literature in 2021 and her most recent work appears in the Winter ’21 edition of New Note Poetry. When she’s not obsessing about Apple products, you can find her voraciously reading fantasy books with her cat in Asheville, North Carolina.