How to Passcode Lock an App in iOS

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Jan 18, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple doesn't have an official method for individually locking sensitive apps like Photos with a passcode, but luckily there's a workaround that was introduced in iOS 12 with Screen Time.

    If you really want to make sure one of your apps is inaccessible, you can use Apple's App Limits feature to do so. Here's how:
    1. Open up the Settings app.
    2. Choose "Screen Time."
    3. Make sure Screen Time is enabled and a Screen Time passcode is set.
    4. Tap on "Devices" in the upper left corner and select your current device. If you don't have multiple devices, just tap on the name of your device at the top.
    5. Choose an app you want to lock and tap it. If the app you want isn't listed, choose any app. It's just a gateway to get to deeper settings.
    6. Tap "Add Limit."
    7. From here, tap "Edit Apps" and add all the other apps that you might want to lock. It gives you a full dropdown of all your apps.
    After you've selected all of the apps that you want to be locked, use the timer interface at the top of the display to select a short period of time, like a minute, and then tap "Add."


    The new App Limit will effectively lock up your selected apps, and if you attempt to tap on one of these locked apps, you will be required to input your Screen Time passcode.


    How to Use a Locked App

    Once you have App Limits in place to lock apps you want to be inaccessible, you can tap on "Ask for More Time" to access the app. You'll need to put in your passcode, and then once you do, you can unlock it for 15 minutes, an hour, or the rest of the day. There's no way to immediately lock it again after approving it for 15 minutes without redoing the entire App Limit setup, so keep that in mind.



    You can passcode lock any app on your phone except for the Phone app. There is no option to turn off access to the Phone app at all. For apps like Messages or FaceTime, you need to edit the "Always Allowed" section of Screen Time to remove them for the limit to be enabled.

    You can disable access to Messages and FaceTime, but you might not want to. When access to Messages is disabled via App Limits, devices using iCloud for Screen Time are not able to send or receive messages during downtime. You're also not able to see notifications for apps that are locked, so keep that in mind when locking down social networking apps.

    An Alternate Locking Method

    If you want to lock up most or all of your apps, you can follow these steps:
    1. Open the Settings app.

      Article Link: How to Passcode Lock an App in iOS
  2. drinkingtea macrumors regular


    Jan 31, 2016
    Nice. But Apple can simplify this process by giving us the ability to officially lock our apps.
  3. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Don't forget your Screen Time passcode, which is not the same as your Lock Screen passcode.

    It's pretty hard to recover from a lost Screen Time passcode, so add it to your password manager. You DO have a password manager, right?
  4. SantaFeNM macrumors member


    Oct 13, 2012
    Santa Fe, NM
    Can you set it to zero minutes for instant lock, or does it have to have at least one minute? Wasn't sure if there is a downside to zero minutes or if that creates a problem for some reason I haven't thought of? Thanks!
  5. sterlingindigo macrumors 6502


    Dec 7, 2007
    East Lansing
    Good, I’ll use this next time I go to apple store and the employees ask me to unlock my device before working on my phone.
  6. davie18 macrumors 6502

    Dec 29, 2010
    Yeah. Especially using Face ID so when you’re using your phone you wouldn’t even notice a difference.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 18, 2019 ---
    Have they ever unlocked your phone when you weren’t present and watching? That’s never happened with me I assumed they wouldn’t be allowed to do that.
  7. Ebok macrumors 6502

    Aug 22, 2018
    no way man, that makes way too much sense.

    i still want private photos folder.
  8. trip1ex macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2008
    I found screen time buggy. My kid was able to bypass it. Just a heads up.
  9. sterlingindigo macrumors 6502


    Dec 7, 2007
    East Lansing
    They said they couldn’t work on it unless I unlocked it first. I said I didn’t feel comfortable with that and asked to speak with a manager. They went to the back room for a couple minutes and came back alone saying they could do it but weren’t responsible if it didn’t work right. It worked fine afterwards.
  10. racerhomie macrumors regular


    Aug 14, 2015
    iOS has one builtin.
  11. ignatius345 macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2015
    I think this workaround is more to guard against casual snooping anyway -- the "jealous boyfriend starts poking around girlfriend's phone while she's out of the room" variety. A truly determined and skilled attacker who has lots of time and access to your unlocked phone is probably gonna get what they want eventually.
  12. RickDEGH macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2018
    Just a heads up: if you lock the Photos app without locking the camera app, that is still a way to reach your photos.
  13. Ballis macrumors 6502a

    May 27, 2008
    Oslo, Norway
  14. TrulsZK macrumors member


    May 1, 2018
    Method 3

    Similar to method 2 Instead of locking apps with a 1 min timer, use the Downtime feature and set limit from 00:00-23:59 that way you avoid the 1 min period before apps lock, you do not avoid it completely (but force it between 23:59 and 00:00.

    Add apps you do not want to lock to Always Allowed
  15. Telos101 macrumors regular


    Apr 29, 2016
    Presumably this won't prevent my kid from messing up my contacts. If you can still access the phone app then you have indirect access to your contacts list, where they can be edited or deleted just as easily.
  16. Gudi macrumors 68030


    May 3, 2013
    Berlin, Berlin
    Doesn’t work for me. You still have to use every time limited app for at least one minute every day before it is locked for the rest of the day. After three days this gets super annoying.
  17. RickDEGH macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2018
    You’re right! I was wondering why after locking my apps they still weren’t working.
  18. BasicGreatGuy Contributor


    Sep 21, 2012
    In the middle of several books.
    Too bad someone hasn't created a streamlined app for this purpose (I haven't been able to find one). He or she could really make some coin.
  19. udontno macrumors 6502


    Jul 19, 2011
    VA, USA
    I hide my photos so they don’t show up in the camera roll and they go to the hidden folder in photos.
  20. Altis macrumors 68030

    Sep 10, 2013
    Imagine Apple gave consumers the useful features they want.
  21. az431 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 13, 2008
    Portland, OR
    I can see the benefit of locking individual apps, but this hack adds too much friction.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 19, 2019 ---
    Fixed it for you. You don't know what features most people want.
  22. Altis macrumors 68030

    Sep 10, 2013
    No, tons of people have been asking for the same features forever and still we don't have them.

    They have no problem adding animojis and cringey iMessage apps, though. ;)
  23. 12vElectronics macrumors 68040


    Jul 19, 2013
  24. TMRJIJ macrumors 68030


    Dec 12, 2011
    South Carolina, United States
    What was the issue with your phone and why did they need it unlocked?

    Last time I was at the genius bar, they just needed my MBP (mid 2010) logged in because their Diagnostics check wasn’t working. I was still with them while they worked on the issue.
  25. davie18 macrumors 6502

    Dec 29, 2010
    I don't know why they spend so much time on imessage.. is it really that big in the US? I'm from the UK and almost nobody uses it here, nor does anyone in asia when I've lived there. Everyone in UK and most of euroipe uses whatsapp.. everyone in Korea uses kakao, everyone in china uses wechat etc etc. I get that imessage might actually get used in the US, but it seems silly in their conferences when they showcase new imessage features when it's basically of interest to only 1 market, especially when they're struggling big time in asia.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 19, 2019 ---
    Lets say you're at a party and your phone is being used to play music from so others are using it to select music.. you might not want drunk people going through your photos looking at your dick pics

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