How To Lock An App On iPhone: 4 Different Ways

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Have you ever thought about how to lock apps on iPhone? Unlike Androids, you can’t download a third party app and use it to lock iPhone apps. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t lock the apps on your iPhone, you just have to get creative with it. 

I’ve crafted a helpful guide showing you four ways you can lock apps on iPhone. Read on to learn how to do it yourself. 

4 Ways To Lock Apps On iPhone

Locking apps can help to provide an additional level of security that provides many people with peace of mind. Android users can download a variety of locking apps from the Google Play Store and use those to provide extra security for their apps and their content. iPhone users don’t have the same luxury.

Sure, both iPhone and Android users have a lot of the same apps available to them. We have multiple lists ranking some of those apps, like the best Image Search Apps, and the apps reviewed for this list are available for both iPhone and Android users. 

However, while both platforms may have a lot of apps in common, security apps do not fall into this category. There are distinct differences in the way that iOS and Android are built. These differences are why some locking apps available for Android are not available for iPhone.

Due to iOS’s infrastructure, iPhone users can’t use third-party apps to lock apps on iPhone. The only way this can happen is if you jailbreak your phone and then use third-party apps. 

However, you don’t need to jailbreak your iPhone to lock apps. There are several different ways in which you can easily lock apps on iPhone to protect yourself and your information from others.

In this article, I’ll show you four methods, which include the App Limits setting, as well as the Content &  Privacy Restrictions found in your Screen Time settings. 

I’ll also show you how to use Guided Access to lock apps and even limit certain features within those apps. The fourth method will show you which apps you can already lock with iOS’s current security measures, such as Face ID and Touch ID.

Read on to see which of the four methods best suits you and your needs when trying to lock your app.

Lock Apps By Limiting Screen Time

Apple released the Screen Time feature with iOS 12 in September 2017. This allows you to see how much time is spent on various apps and websites on your iPhone. You can use it to track your daily and weekly usage to adopt better habits regarding your phone usage.

However, this feature can also be used to lock an app on your iPhone, as well. One way to do this is by limiting the amount of screen time allowed for a particular phone app with App Limits, and only allowing someone to extend that time with a Screen Time passcode. 

If you don’t know how to create a passcode, or use this feature to lock an app, no worries because I’ve got you covered. 

Here’s how to use App Limits to lock apps on iPhone

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone and then tap Screen Time.
Screen time app located in the Settings option
  1.  If Screen Time is not enabled, tap Turn On Screen Time and then tap Continue to begin setting it up. 
Tapping continue button to confirm Turn On Screen Time
  1. Next, you’ll see a popup that asks whether the iPhone is yours or a child’s. Tap the “This is My iPhone” option to confirm that it’s yours. 
Tapping This is My iPhone button to confirm ownership
  1. Once you’ve activated it, tap Use Screen Time Passcode. Set your screen time passcode, you’ll use this passcode to access your apps when your time has run out.
Set Passcode screen display
  1. In case you forget your passcode, you’ll be able to recover it with your Apple ID. Log into your Apple ID to use it as a Screen Time passcode recovery method. 
Screen Time Passcode Recovery screen to recover passcode using Apple ID
  1. Once you’re finished setting your passcode, return to the Screen Time settings, and tap the App Limits option. 
App limits option located under Screen Time settings
  1. Next, tap Add Limit and swipe down to reveal the search bar. Type in the name of the app you want to add a Screen Time limit to. For this tutorial, I chose TikTok. After selecting the app that you want to add a limit to, tap Add. 
Adding screen time limit to specific apps
  1. Now you’ll be able to add a time limit to restrict the use of the app. Set the time to 1 minute and ensure the Block at End of Limit is toggled on. 

This will ensure that the app is inaccessible when time runs out. When you’re finished tap Add to put your app on the App Limits list. 

Toggle block at end of limit to block an app when time runs out
  1. To test out the app, open it on your iPhone
Open an app to test if it's blocked after time has ended
  1. Once the time limit (1 minute) runs out, you’ll see the following window. Here, tap “Ask For More Time” to extend the time. 
Asking for more time when you've reached the time limit of a specific app
  1. Choose the Enter Screen Time Passcode option and enter your Screen Time passcode.
Choosing enter screen time passcode to extend app usage
  1.  Afterward, select the time that you want to use the phone app – it can be either 15 minutes, an hour, or the entire day. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to use the locked app again.
Time can be extended for 15 minutes, an hour, or the whole day

Here’s a video showing you how to lock an app on your iPhone with the Screen Time limit:

YouTube player

Lock First Party Apps With Screen Time Content Restrictions

App Limits isn’t the only Screen Time feature that you can use to lock apps on your iPhone. Another feature that you can use is the Privacy & Content Restrictions

This feature can be used to restrict your children from accessing certain apps or types of content on your iPhone. This is why it’s a great way to lock apps, specifically first-party apps, on your iPhone.

If you’re not familiar with the Privacy & Content Restrictions feature on your iPhone, no need to worry. I’ll show you how to use it to lock apps. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. If Screen Time is not active on your iPhone, follow steps 1 – 6 from the previous section to get started.
  1.  In the Screen Time settings, tap Content & Privacy Restrictions and enter your Screen Time passcode. 
Tapping Content & Privacy Restrictions options and enter your Screen Time passcode
  1. If it isn’t activated, toggle on the Content & Privacy Restrictions so you can access it. 
Toggling on Content & Privacy Restrictions to access more options
  1. Next, tap Allowed Apps and from the list of apps available, toggle off the one you want to lock. For this tutorial, I chose Facetime.
Toggling off selected apps to restrict
  1. Locked apps are not available via the home screen.  To use them, you’ll need to return to the Content & Privacy Restrictions settings in the Screen Time settings and make them available again.
Screen showing locked apps are not available in home screen

Here’s a video demonstration showing you how to lock a first-party app with content restrictions on your iPhone:

YouTube player

If you want other ways to limit what your child sees and uses on their own devices, then I suggest taking a look at this list of the best parental control apps.

Lock An App From Settings

One thing that many people don’t know is that you can lock certain apps via the settings on your iPhone. While this feature may not be available for every app, it is available for apps that require as much security as possible. 

These apps often need passcodes, Face ID, or Touch ID to be accessed. Examples of these apps are banking apps such as PayPal, Payoneer, and others

They utilize biometric data to safeguard your information, similar to how you cannot make an iTunes purchase without Touch ID, Face ID, or your passcode. This makes it difficult for anyone besides you to access a locked app like this.

Here’s how to see which apps can be locked with biometrics via your settings:

  1.  Open the Settings app and scroll down and tap the Face ID or Passcode option.
iPhone screen showing settings app and selecting Face ID & Passcode option
  1.  Next, you’ll be asked to enter your passcode. Enter it to proceed.
Enter Passcode screen in iPhone
  1.  In the options listed in the “Use Face ID For” section, tap Other Apps.
Other Apps option inside Face ID & Passcode
  1.  With this list, you can see the apps that use Face ID on your device. You can toggle these apps’ access to Face ID on and off, however, I recommend keeping it on.
List of apps that use Face ID in iPhone

Lock Apps With Guided Access On iPhone

One of the iPhone’s features is the Guided Access feature. It helps you keep focused on a task by temporarily limiting your iPhone to a single app and it even allows you to control which app features are available for use. 

This makes it a great way to lock apps on iPhones and even limit which features are available for other people to use.

Here’s how to use Guided Access to lock apps on iPhone:

  1. To get started, you’ll first need to activate Guided Access on your iPhone. To do this, open the Settings app and tap on General > Accessibility. 
Tapping settings app to then choosing the General option
  1. In the Accessibility section, scroll until you see Guided Access and tap it
Guided Access option under General
  1. On the Guided Access page, toggle it ON.
Toggle Guided Access by pressing on the white circle
  1. Turning Guided Access On will give you an option to set a Guided Access passcode. Tap guided Passcode Settings.
Turning Guided Access On will give you an option to set a Guided Access passcode
  1. Next, you’ll be taken to the Passcode Settings page where you’ll be able to set a Guided Access passcode that you can use to lock and unlock apps. 
Passcode settings page to set up Guided Access passcode
  1. After you’ve activated the Guided Access feature, open an app that you want to lock. For this tutorial, I’ll be using the Messages app. To begin your Guided Access session, triple-click the home button. 
  1. If you’ve used other shortcuts then select Guided Access from the popup menu, otherwise, you can skip this step. 
  1. For this tutorial, I’ll use the Messages app as an example. Tap on Options at the bottom left of the screen. You can restrict access to the Keyboards by toggling Keyboards OFF and tapping Done.  
Restricting access to the keyboards by toggling keyboards option off
  1. You can also specify areas within a selected app that you’d like to disable. In the case of the Messages app. I’ve circled out and disabled the Edit option so that no one can delete any message threads.
Camera capture of Guided Access option in iPhone
Camera shot on iPhone messages app disbaling the Edit option
  1. Once you’ve set all of this up, you can tap Start at the top right of the screen. Enter the passcode you set and disable the function.
Disabled Edit button in iPhone messages app
  1. There you have it, you’ve limited the features in the selected app. In this case, you’ve disabled the Keyboard and Edit function. In addition to this, users won’t be able to navigate to other apps or even the home screen. 
Camera capture of a limited app in iphone with disabled keyboard and edit function
  1. To turn end your Guided Access session, triple-click on the home button and enter your passcode. Afterward, tap End at the top left of the screen.

Here’s a video demonstrating how to use the Guided Access feature to lock apps on iPhone:

YouTube player


Does iPhone Have App Lock?

iPhone does have app lock, however, it’s not like Android phones. For iPhones, you’d use the Screen Time feature to lock apps rather than a third-party locking app. You can use a passcode to lock it and prevent it from being used over a specified time.

Can You Lock Individual Apps?

You can lock individual apps on your iPhone. You can use the Apps Limits feature or the Privacy & Content Restrictions feature that’s available in Screen Time in the Settings app to lock any app you want on your iPhone. The process is simple and allows you control over your apps.

Locking Apps On iPhone – Wrapping Up

What’d you think of this article?

Many people don’t know that you can lock apps on your Phone in a variety of ways but as you can see, there are multiple ways to lock apps on iPhone. There are multiple benefits to locking apps too. 

You can protect your information and stop others from accessing stuff they shouldn’t, that can be a coworker accidentally opening an app they shouldn’t: a nosy partner, or even an overly curious child.  

You can use any of the four methods I outlined above. That could be the App Limits or Content & Privacy Restrictions available via Screen Time. Or it could be the Guided Access feature in your Accessibility Settings or using Face ID or Touch ID for first-party apps. 

All of these methods are free and don’t require you to jailbreak your phone either, which is great.

Protecting your data is one thing but sometimes it’s not enough. If circumstances require it, then we recommend using a spy app to help further protect yourself or even your kids. Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms right now, so here are some of the best Instagram spy apps on the market.

Thank you for reading this article!
If you have any questions, be sure to leave them in the comments. And don’t forget to share this article with your family, friends, and followers.

About The Author

  • Rahul Sharma

    Computer science student and technology enthusiast. I love plants also, so much that I talk to them. Currently figuring out how to make an iguana as a pet without getting arrested. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

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Rahul Sharma

Computer science student and technology enthusiast. I love plants also, so much that I talk to them. Currently figuring out how to make an iguana as a pet without getting arrested. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

16 thoughts on “How To Lock An App On iPhone: 4 Different Ways”

  1. Is there a way to turn it off if you don’t remember the passcode???? Or can resetting the phone work??

  2. I, unfortunately, was unable to use this function. With Android, I used app lock and it worked great only on specific apps. Anyone else knows of any apps that are free and work great?

  3. Boss, We are asking for app lock not locking features after opening apps. Especially with touch ID. It’s apple man! Kids/friends /family do use our phone sometime. don’t want them to open and social apps. Hope you find it soon.

    • Hi Venkssy,
      I understand your point. According to my knowledge, there is no app on App Store that can lock/password protect individual apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Kik etc.
      However, there are few good paid and free apps that can lock Photos/Videos, Contacts, Notes, Contacts etc. These apps basically make copies of your desired content(photo, video, contact etc.) and move them to a different folder which is locked with a passcode. The locked content still can be accessed from your iPhone’s Camera roll, or Phone app in case of contacts. So, you need to delete it from there(source).
      Here is the app I have tried and works pretty well.
      1. Hide My Folder – Free
      2. My Hidden Folder Pro – Paid version of the above app. It of course has more features.
      3. Secret Folder Icon – Paid

      I hope this helps 🙂

    • Exactly! I want to lock the Messages app from opening without a passcode OR I want to password protect a particular conversation; for instance with my bank. For some reason, if someone clicks on my bank in the Message list then a passcode will be asked. My bank notifies me of certain info that I want to retain for a time but no one else needs to know that info. It would be useful to lock the Messages app just in case or maybe lock the conversation with the bank OR even hide the bank conversation entirely, all without jailbreaking.


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