Sometimes you need to protect your iPhone or iPad photos from prying eyes that may also have access to your device. Unfortunately, Apple does not provide an obvious, secure way to do this. However, there is a solution thanks to the Notes app.
How does it work?
You probably already know the “Hidden Photos”; folder in the Photos app on iPhone and iPad. In iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, you can also hide that folder. Images that are hidden in the Photos app, however, are not password protected. There are other ways to hide private photos on your Apple device, but they often involve third-party apps.
We show you how to use the Notes app (which is available on all iPhones and iPads) and a feature that was first introduced in iOS 9.3 to secure certain photos on your device. First you need to insert your photos in a note and then you can lock them behind a password.
RELATED: How to lock Apple Notes on your iPhone, iPad and Mac
How to password protect photos with notes
If the images you want to lock behind a password are not already on your iPhone or iPad, move them there. Then open the Notes app and tap the New note icon (pen and paper) to create a new note.
On the first line of the new note, write text that will not get too much attention. This will appear in the note list, even after you lock it.
Touch the Add Photo (Camera) icon in the toolbar. On an iPad, you will find it at the top. On an iPhone, it will either be above the on-screen keyboard or at the bottom of the screen.
Touch “Select Photo or Video” in the menu that appears.
On the following screen, tap the thumbnail of each photo you want to add (a check mark because they are selected). When done, tap Add.
Notepad inserts the photos you selected in the notepad file. To lock the note, tap the Ellipsis icon (the three dots in a circle).
Tap “Lock” in the window that appears.
If you have previously set a Notes password, you will be prompted to enter it. when you have done so, press “OK”.
Did not set a password? No problem! Notes will ask you to create one. Just remember that you must use this password to view all locked notes. If you have enabled the Notes app to sync with iCloud, the same password applies to other Apple devices logged in to iCloud.
Enter a password and a clue. If your device supports it, you also have the option to lock notes with Touch or Face ID. When you have entered your information and made your selections, press “Done”.
Notes will confirm that the lock has been added, but do not go away yet! This only allows you to lock the setting – you still need to lock the note itself to make it secure.
To do so, open the note and then tap the padlock icon in the toolbar.
A confirmation message will then appear saying “This note is locked.” If you want to double check, just press “Show note”.
When Notes asks for your password, type it, and then press “OK.”
Then you will see all the photos you have added to the secure note.
Make sure you also visit the Photos app and delete the photos you just password protected. Then you 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. However, it is not iron-clad encryption at the state level. A research company recently discovered some weaknesses in the Notes app. These can allow a determined attacker with unlimited access to your device to guess the partial contents of a locked note.
These circumstances are rare, but there may also be other undetected bugs in Notes that could potentially jeopardize the security of a note.
For casual privacy purposes, however, locked notes are secure enough for most people to prevent opportunistic snooping. Just make sure you do not create a password that is easy to guess!