If you have a fairly recent Samsung phone, there is an option to hide certain content, such as photos, so other people cannot see them. It is a useful privacy feature, but how does it work?
For this step-by-step guide I will be using a Samsung Galaxy S6 running Android 6, but older and newer phones and Android versions have it too. It is on the Galaxy Note series and possibly other Samsung phones and tablets.
It is useful for those occasions where someone wants to borrow your phone. Either theirs is broken, they have left it at home, they can’t find it in the house and want to ring it, or they want to use your free minutes or data because theirs has run out, and so on.
There are lots of reasons why a partner or friend might want to use your phone, but if you hand it to them unlocked so they can use, it, they might be tempted to poke around and look at your photos, videos, and other personal items.
There may be things you don’t want them to see. If only you could hide them. Well, you can!
1 Go to Settings
Pull down from the top of the screen and tap the gear icon, or go to the apps screen and press Settings. Scroll down and press Privacy and safety. (Other versions of Android might look different and the wording might be different.)
2 Configure Private mode
Among the Privacy and safety options is Private mode. It is turned off by default, so press it and turn it on.
3 Choose a lock
Private mode is designed to keep people out. For this reason you must set a Pattern lock, a PIN, such as a four digit number, or a password. It is up to you which you choose, just don’t make it anything that other people can guess. You want to keep them out, right?
4 Turn on Private mode
Private mode can now be turned on. When it is on, all content on the phone can be accessed (photos, videos and so on).
It should be turned on whenever you use the phone.
It should be turned off when you hand the phone to someone else.
There is an option to Auto disable Private mode (turn it off) automatically when the screen turns off. It’s your choice. It might be irritating to have to turn it back on each time you want to access private items, but on the other hand, there is no need to turn off Private mode when you hand your phone to someone. It’s your choice.
5 Select photos
Private mode works with several apps, such as Gallery, Video, Music, Voice Recorder and My Files. Let’s hide a photo.
Load the Gallery app and open the Camera album to see the photos. Long press on a photo to select it. You can add more photos to the selection, but I’ll just use one in this example. Now press the MORE button.
6 Make it private
After selecting one or more photos, press MORE and then Move to Private. The photos disappear from the album.
7 View private items
So where have the private photos been moved to? The answer is a Private album. Select Albums at the top and among the list of albums is one called Private.
When Private mode is turned on, you can see and access this album. When it is turned off, it is hidden.
8 Make items public
To move items from Private mode back to normal mode that everyone can access, just do the reverse. Using the Gallery as an example again, open the Private album, long press on a photo to select it, add more items if you want.
After selecting items, press the MORE button and then press Remove from Private.
This is not military level encryption or anything. My guess is that Private mode is simply setting the hidden attribute for the folder. Instagram saw it and said “New album found. Do you want to share this on Instagram?”
Watch out for that - other apps can see hidden items, even if other phone users can’t. It could be embarrassing if you posted all your private photos on Instagram!
This is security and privacy at its simplest, but it is still useful.
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Created: 23 August 2016