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(Pocket-lint) - Google lets users of the Google Photos app hide their sensitive photos and videos to a folder protected by their device's screen lock.

This "Locked Folder" has been limited to Pixel device owners. But Google plans to expand it to iOS users. It's coming to iOS, specifically, "early next year". The Locked Folder first launched for the Pixel 3 and later last June. Then, in September 2021, Google said it would come to all Android phones. The company is now adjusting that timeframe to include Google Photos users on iOS in 2022.

Here, then, is what you need to know about the Locked Folder.

How does the Locked Folder work?

Google Photos’ Locked Folder is a passcode- or biometric-protected folder that lets you hide sensitive and personal media.

Set up the Locked Folder

If you don’t have a screen lock set up on your device, you’ll need to set one up. 

  1. Open the latest version of the Google Photos app.
  2. Go to Library > Utilities > Locked Folder.
  3. Tap Set up Locked Folder.
  4. Follow the on-screen prompts.
    • You'll be asked to unlock your device.

Do you need to learn how to set or change a screen lock on your phone? Check out Google's support page here.

Move photos or videos to Locked Folder

You'll be asked to set up the Locked Folder the first time you go to use it.

  1. Open the latest version of the Google Photos app.
  2. Select the photos and videos you want in Locked Folder.
  3. At the top right, tap More > Move to Locked Folder.
  4. Tap Move.

Do you need more information about the Locked Folder? Check out Google's support page here.

How to find the Locked Folder

You can find items you’ve moved to Locked Folder in the Google Photos app library under "Utilities". To access the Locked Folder, you'll need to unlock your device either through biometric verification such as your fingerprint or face scan or by entering your PIN. 

What can't you do with the Locked Folder?

To prevent exposure of your photos and videos in the Locked Folder, Google doesn't let you add those items to an album or photo book, back them up, edit or revert changes, or even share them. They also won’t be shown on Google smart displays like Nest Hub or through Chromecast.

Anything else you should know?

Google revealed the rollout plan for Google Photos' Locked Folder in a blog post rounding up additional new security initiatives.

For instance, Google announced it is expanding the VPN feature in Google One to 10 new countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland). Plus, the Pixel's centralised security hub, which debuted on the Pixel 6, is coming to all Android phones, Google said. The security hub basically provides a simplified view of the entire security status of your device.

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Originally published on 29 October 2021.