Sometimes, you need to protect your iPhone or iPad from prying eyes that might also have access to your device. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t provide an obvious, secure way to do this. However, there’s a work-around thanks to the Notes app.
How Does It Work?
You probably already know about the “Hidden Photos” folder in the Photos app on iPhone and iPad. In iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, you can hide that folder, as well. However, images hidden in the Photos app aren’t password-protected. There are other ways you can hide private photos on your Apple device, but they often involve third-party apps.
We’ll show you how to use the Notes app (which is on every iPhone and iPad) and a feature first introduced in iOS 9.3 to secure certain photos on your device. First, you’ll have to insert your photos into a note, and then, you can lock them behind a password, .
How to Password Protect Photos Using Notes
If the photos you’d like to lock behind a password aren’t already on your iPhone or iPad, move them there. Next, open the Notes app and tap the New Note icon (the pencil and paper) to create a new note.
On the first line of the new note, type some text that won’t attract too much attention. This will appear in the list of notes, even after you lock it.
Tap the Add Photo icon (the camera) in the toolbar. On an iPad, you’ll find this at the top. On an iPhone, it’ll either be above the on-screen keyboard or at the bottom of the screen.
In the menu that appears, tap “Choose Photo or Video.”
On the following screen, tap the thumbnail of each photo you want to add (a checkmark will indicate they’re selected). When you’re done, tap “Add.”
Notes will insert the photos you selected into the note file. To lock the note, tap the Ellipsis icon (the three dots in a circle).
In the window that appears, tap “Lock.”
If you’ve previously set a Notes password, you’ll be asked to type it; after you do so, tap “OK.”
Haven’t set a password? No problem! Notes will ask you to create one. Just remember, you’ll have to use this password to view all locked notes. If you’ve enabled the Notes app to sync to iCloud, this same password will also apply to other Apple devices signed into iCloud.
Type a password and a hint. If your device supports it, you’ll also have the option to lock Notes using Touch or Face ID. After you’ve typed your info and made your selections, tap “Done.”
Notes will confirm the lock has been added, but don’t walk away yet! This only enables the lock setting—you’ll still have to lock the note itself to make it secure.
To do so, open the note, and then tap the Padlock icon in the toolbar.
You’ll then see a confirmation that says “This note is locked.” If you want to double-check, just tap “View Note.”
When Notes asks for your password, type it, and then tap “OK.”
You’ll then see all the photos you added to the secure note.
Make sure you also visit the Photos app and delete the images you just password-protected. After that, you’ll need to visit the “Recently Deleted” folder in Photos and delete them there, as well.
How Secure Are Locked iPhone or iPad Notes?
Locked notes on an iPhone or iPad are encrypted to the extent that it would be difficult to extract them, even with forensic tools. It’s not ironclad state-security-level encryption, though. One research firm recently discovered some weaknesses in the Notes app. These could allow a determined attacker with unrestricted access to your device to guess the partial contents of a locked note.
These circumstances are rare, but there might also be other undiscovered bugs in Notes that could potentially compromise a note’s security.
For casual privacy purposes, however, locked notes are secure enough for most people to prevent opportunistic snooping. Just make sure you don’t create a password that’s easy to guess!