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How to lock apps on iPhone in iOS 17 (3 ways)

Locking apps can be an excellent way to protect your privacy when you share your iPhone with someone else. Considering this, several social media and banking apps offer a built-in feature to lock them using Face ID or a passcode. But besides such apps, there isn’t any native way to lock apps on your iPhone.

Fortunately, there are still quite a few ways to achieve a similar level of protection. In this guide, we’ll explore all the possible workarounds you can use to securely lock apps on your iPhone.

How to lock apps on iPhone using Shortcuts app

Currently, the most effective way to lock apps on an iPhone is to create a custom automation using the Shortcuts app. With this method, you can use Face ID or Touch ID to immediately lock your iPhone whenever someone tries to launch an app you don’t want them to access.

Here’s how to set this up:

  1. Open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Go to the Automation tab and tap the + icon.
  3. If you can’t find the icon, tap New Automation.
  4. Scroll down and tap App from the list that shows up.

    Select new automation ,tap Apps
  5. Tap Choose, pick an app you want to lock, and tap Done. You can choose multiple apps if you want.
  6. Select Is Opened and Run Immediately. Then, tap Next.

    Tap Choose, select app, tick Is Opened, check Run Immediately
  7. Select New Blank Automation and tap Add Action.

    Select New Blank automation, tap Add Action
  8. Tap the search bar at the top and type Lock Screen.
  9. Select the Lock the Screen action and tap Done to save the shortcut.
    Select Lock Screen and tap Done

Subsequently, if you (or someone else) open the locked app, the automation will automatically lock the screen. Continuing will require unlocking the device first using Face ID or passcode.

How to lock apps on iPhone using Screen Time

If you’re looking for a quick method to lock apps on your iPhone from a toddler instead of a potential intruder, using the Screen Time App Limits feature in iOS can be a great option. While this method works, do remember that it takes at least one minute for the Screen Time App Limit to kick into action and lock the app.

Follow these steps to set up an app limit:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to Screen Time and tap on App Limits.
    Navigate to Screen Time, tap on App Limits on iPhone
  3. Tap Add Limit and select the category of your app.
  4. Then select an app that you want to lock and tap Next. (You can even choose multiple apps or an entire category.)
    Tap Add Limit, select app category, select app, tap Next
  5. Set a time of 1 Minute and toggle on Block at End of Limit.
  6. Customize days if needed, tap Add, and return to Screen Time.
    Set time, toggle on Block at End of Limit, tap Add
  7. Tap Lock Screen Time Settings and set a Screen Time Passcode.
  8. Finally, enter your Apple ID credentials for recovery and tap OK.

    Select Lock Screen time settings, enter password tap ok

Now, whenever someone opens the app you just locked, a Screen Time timer will start and automatically lock the app after a minute. If you want to use the app, you must tap Ask For More Time and enter your Screen Time passcode.

How to lock apps on iPhone using Guided Access

Yet another way to lock apps on your iPhone is using the Guided Accessibility feature. With Guided Access, you can set a passcode to restrict your iPhone to a single app before handing it to someone. This prevents users from exiting the app in question until you end the session.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to Accessibility and tap Guided Access.
  3. Toggle on Guided Access and tap Passcode Settings.

    Go to Accessibility, select Guided Access, toggle on Guided Access
  4. Tap Set Guided Access Passcode and enter a passcode.

    Tap Set Guided Access Passcode and enter a passcode
  5. Now, open the app you want to prevent someone from using.
  6. Triple-press the Side button to turn on Guided Access.
  • If you skip step 4, you must tap Start and create a new Guided Access passcode after you triple-click the Side button to turn on Guided Access.

Now, when you want to end the Guided Access session and use your iPhone again, triple-press the Side button, enter the passcode, and then tap End.

Signing off…

While iPhones don’t feature a way to lock your apps natively, the workarounds detailed in this guide should allow you to do so. While you can lock pretty much any app, we recommend locking at least your banking, messaging, and photos apps, along with those that hold your personal data.

Which method do you use to lock your apps? Tell us in the comments section.

How do you lock an app on iPhone using a third-party app?

To lock apps on an iPhone using a third-party app, you must install paid third-party apps like AppID or a free alternative like App Lock on the App Store. Then, you must allow these third-party apps to access the Screen Time data. Once you do that, you can lock individual apps using a password or Face ID.

How to lock apps at certain times on iPhone?

You can enable the Downtime feature in Screen Time to lock apps on your iPhone at certain times. With Downtime, you can set daily schedules to disable all apps except those added to the “Always Allowed” list. Whenever Downtime is active on your iPhone, no one can use the locked app until and unless they tap Ask For More Time and type a Screen Time passcode (if you’ve set one).

How can I keep my iPhone apps secure?

To keep your iPhone apps secure, update your iPhone to the latest iOS version, enable Face ID or Touch ID, and log out of your apps once you’re done using them.

More things to read:

  • Ayush

    Ayush is a writer with a keen interest in consumer technology and the Apple ecosystem. He has over three years of working experience at several big-name publications, including Guiding Tech, TechPP, and MobiGyaan. Here at iGeeksBlog, he specializes in crafting how-to guides, buying guides, and editorials related to all things Apple.

  • Yash Wate

    Yash is a tech journalist and writer based in India. He has five years of experience writing features, how-tos, and reviews for various online publications. As an editor at iGeeksBlog, Yash's job is to ensure the articles are polished and suitable for publication. You can also read his work on How-To Geek, MakeUseOf, and TechPP.

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