How to use Guest Mode on your Android phone

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Keep your nosey friends out of your private items.


Stephen Shankland/CNET

“Don’t be nosey!” That’s what I used to tell my friends when they borrowed my phone. Inevitably, they would swipe through my photos or put a silly comment on my Facebook. But you can stop this kind of intrusion by setting up either a guest mode or privacy mode on your Android phone. 

How to use guest mode

Not all Android phones have guest mode capability. Some that do are the Pixel ($629.50 at Amazon.com) and the Nexus.  Basically, it’s included on Android phones running 5.0 Lollipop and newer.

First, you need to check if your phone has a guest option. This is super simple. Just down swipe on your phone to open the quick menu and look to see if there is an icon that looks like a person inside of a circle. If you see this icon, you have the guest capability.

To set up a guest mode, tap the User icon (the person inside of the circle) > Add guest. Now your friend can use your phone without peeking at your stuff because it will be in guest mode.

When your friend is done, tap User icon > Remove Guest > Remove

If you let the same person borrow your phone over and over — and they don’t care about their data being on your phone — you can just leave the guest account and switch to your profile when you tap the User icon. You’ll need to sign in with your password, fingerprint or lock pattern to access your stuff. The next time your friend uses your phone, just tap the User icon > Guest User icon Continue.

Turn on privacy mode

If your phone doesn’t have guest mode or runs something older than 5.0 Lollipop, don’t despair. Other phones come with a privacy mode that can use to hide your secrets. 

On some phones you can go to Settings > Privacy and Safety > Private mode. Then, toggle the Private switch to On. To choose which files to make private, go to your files, select the files you want to hide, tap More and choose Move to Private. Your files will be found just in your private folder and can’t be accessed without your phone’s password.

Other Android phones, like the Galaxy 8, does it a little differently. Go to Settings > Lock Screen and Safety > Secure folder. Next, select a lock type that will protect your folder. Tap Add Apps or Add Files to put things your folder. Now, no one can look at these items without your fingerprint, lock pattern or password.   


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