Over the summer, Google introduced the ability for Pixel users to effectively “lock away” photos in a vault to keep them hidden from prying eyes. The featured is called — what else? — Locked Folder, and anything stored there is protected by the device’s lock screen passcode. Locked photos won’t show up in the Photos grid, memories, or other apps with access to the camera roll.
Google just started pushing out the feature to more non-Pixel devices, including Samsung and OnePlus smartphones. You might even see a prompt pop up in the notification shade. I ran into an alert earlier this week on my OnePlus 9, which seems to indicate it’s actively rolling out right now.
You can check to see if you have the Locked Folder by heading into Google Photos, tapping on Library, and selecting Utilities. You might have to scroll through a few prompts, but you should see a card for setting up the Locked Folder on your device.
Note that Locked Folder items are not backed up to the cloud, so anything you place in there will live and die with the physical device. If you delete Google Photos in the interim, it will wipe away those files.
On a Pixel smartphone, you have the option to save a captured photo directly to the Locked Folder instead of the camera roll. But you might not have access to this ability on non-Google devices. The option to snap a photo directly into the Locked Folder is notably missing from the OnePlus 9, because it uses the OnePlus-developed camera app.
If you have access to it now, take a minute to set up your Locked Folder. It’s great for storing photos of your driver’s licence, social security card, vaccination card, and anything else that’s too sensitive to have floating around with the rest of your photo albums. The Locked Folder should also be available on iOS devices sometime soon.
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