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Cyanogen folder locking - how it works and why it is awesome

Unless you have a native guest mode, every time you hand your phone over to someone else you're handing over your entire digital existence. Your photo gallery, browser history, chats, and anything not secured by a pin in the app are a tap or two away. Whether you've handed your phone off to a child to watch a video in the middle of the grocery store, a friend who needs to call a cab after their phone died, or your phone has gotten up and walked away with the help of some less-than-honest individual, protecting your data is important.

Lockscreens aren't bulletproof, Smart Lock even less so, which means it is worth exploring a second layer for those apps you don't want anyone but you to access. If you're using a Cyanogen OS device or something running CyanogenMod, folder locking is a perfect example of a second security layer. It's also baked right in to the OS, waiting for you to turn it on and enjoy it. Here's how it works.

Using folder lock is incredibly simple. Put the apps you don't want people to be able to just open in a folder, and when you open that folder you'll see a lock icon next to the name. Tap on the lock and you'll be prompted to create a pattern lock for that folder. Just like pattern lock for your lockscreen, you trace the pattern you want twice to confirm and you're all good to go. When you go back to the home screen you'll see a lock icon instead of the folder full of apps, with the label underneath. You can edit this label to say whatever you want, just like a normal folder, and now the only way to access these apps from this launcher is by knowing the pattern.

Cyanogen folder lock

You can have as many locked folders as you want, and when you have apps in a locked folder they are removed from the app drawer. The only way to quickly access those apps without your permission at this point would be to install a new launcher and use that to access the apps, so be sure the Google Play Store app is in one of your locked folders if you're serious about keeping everyone out. If you want to remove an app from a folder, just tap the "X" next to the icon when the locked folder is open, and the app will return to your launcher.

It's quick, effective, and simple enough that you can use it every day without feeling like the pattern lock is slowing you down too much. There are a lot of different reasons to want a feature like this, and by making it something embedded in the operating system the Cyanogen folks have removed as many steps toward helping you be more secure as can be reasonably expected. All you have to do is turn it on. Enjoy!

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter

38 Comments
  • Very Cool
  • -1 Posted via the Android Central App
  • What is wrong with liking something that is pretty cool? Fine if you don't see it that way but I personally find it pretty cool.
  • Because there has to be an asshat in every crowd.
  • Because someone at AC is subliminally cyan pushing ever so gently. Dude. What if the word "NEWS" on the AC widget actually linked to the news page? #mindblown.
  • I use nova Posted via Android Central App on 1+1
  • +1 Posted via the Android Central App
  • I use Nova Prime and Smart Launcher Pro 3 (two different phones). FingerSecurity gives me all the "locking" i need.
  • There is only 100 apps that do the same thing. Cm is a poor copy. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Beat me to it. I was going to point out the same thing.
  • Glad I am not the only one to think that Posted via the Android Central App
  • But wouldn't it be better to be integrated then being an app? Posted via the Android Central App
  • LOL - then the Nexus cult members would call it bloat. They don't want useful features.
  • They would do no such thing
    /s Posted via the Android Central App
  • +1 Posted via the Android Central App
  • It may not be a new or unique feature, but it's a very good thing to have baked in. It's unobtrusive and generally useful enough that I wouldn't mind seeing something like this work its way into Nexus-style stock. Edit: That said, the app-pinning feature in Lollipop makes this a little less useful, since when I hand my phone to someone I don't entirely trust, I usually just pin the app that they need to use. Posted via the Android Central App
  • What are some of the apps that do this? I haven't heard of them but I think I want to use one.
  • If you have a phone with a fingerprint scanner, I highly recommend FingerSecurity. Just off the top of my head, there's also Hide It Pro (also called Audio Manager, since it looks like an audio manager to hide its purpose) and AppLock. There are many more. Just search the play store.
  • Isn't that the same argument Nexus fans use with regards to S Note, QMemo, OEM calendar apps, etc?
  • This is neat though guest mode in lollipop reduces its usefulness. Also, there's an app for that
    https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2F...
  • Pointless unless you use their launcher.
  • Welcome to cm.... Pointless Posted via the Android Central App
  • Sure, but you can say the same about any feature built into an OEM's or third party ROM developer's software. They all assume that most users are going to stick with the default launcher, and for the most part, that's a reasonable assumption (also people who buy Cyanogen OS phones or install CM are probably way more likely than average to install third party launchers). Posted via the Android Central App
  • Listen up kids, when someone gives you their contact information they are entrusting you with their privacy. How many people are entrusting YOU with their personal contact information? Probably just under 100 on average. Why would you lend your phone out to anybody? Friend or Family? Lock it and encrypt it. 3rd party apps that provide "folder locking" for stated purposes are redundant and promoting poor personal security.
  • Its a nice feature, i use it. Problem is that you can access apps via recent apps button
  • I use FingerSecurity. It has an option to secure recent apps, too. I think several other locking apps have that option.
  • The best OS/UI for Android phones is the MiOS /MIUI it has all of these features already built in. From locking apps to other security features.
  • I like the features of MIUI. I just don't like it's design. I can say that because I use a Redmi Note from time to time, alternating between a HTC One M7 and LG G3, along with a Galaxy S3 running CM12.1 Posted via the Android Central App
  • Anybody else tired of Russell Holly's fixation recently with Cyanogen? I mean enough is enough, particularly when you just gloss over their CEO's flaming on about ripping Android away from Google. I mean, huh?! Okay, choice is good, but move on. Posted via Android Central App
  • Yeah. If you're going to do something like this then you should you focus on more custom roms, not just Cyanogen(Mod).
  • I'm not focusing on custom roms at all.
  • It's not a recent fixation. Cyanogen OS is getting the same treatment as TouchWiz, Sense UI, Nexus experience, and any other versions of Android that come pre-loaded on devices.
  • Occasionally journalists do a series of articles on similar theme or topic. This is not new (at AC or any other news source). They did it with lollipop, the GS6, the G4, and a hundred other topics before that. And they'll do it with a hundred topics after this one. Get used to it. Life pro tip: if you don't like an article's topic, don't read it.
  • Nothing wrong with covering any and all news Android. Posted via the Android Central App
  • How is it baked into the OS if a different Launcher bypasses it? That's not a criticism of the feature, but of the article which contradicts itself.
  • There are modifications to the framework so that other parts of the system will treat the protected apps differently. See change 65076 on the CyanogenMod gerrit (I can't post a link here because the comment system forbids links) for an example.
  • Useless, you can just use the Google App (accessible with a swipe from the bottom) to launch any app you want, including the Play Store.
  • Unfortuntely ,i removed the folder which contains my personal apps.Now , i can't find the apps that present in the folder no where in the phone.How to find the apps ?