Your iPhone has a powerful feature that can keep your secrets hidden from other people, and you’ll never have to worry about sharing or showing someone something embarrassing or incriminating ever again.
No matter who you are, you likely use your iPhone’s Photos app a lot since anything you take a picture or video of using the stock Camera app — and many other camera apps — lands there. And the chances that you have an image or video you don’t want anyone to ever see are high.
It could be evidence to implicate you in cheating or lying, pictures of your feces to show your doctor, unedited or sexualized selfies, screenshots of login credentials or tax documents, spy pics, saved nude sexts, or practically anything else.
Since it’s easy to accidentally include one of your for-you-only photos or videos when sharing an album with iCloud friends, texting a group of images, AirPlaying a slideshow, or viewing your Photos widget on the Home Screen or Lock Screen, Apple has included a tool to help protect you from it ever happening: the Hidden album. It’s been around since iOS 10, received an awesome upgrade with iOS 14, and became even more secure on iOS 16.
While there are helpful Photos features like the new cutout tool, bulk image editing, Live Text in videos, Visual Look Up, and geotag editing, the Hidden album remains one of the most important because it maintains privacy and security for your most private of moments. Hell, you could even hide all Photos content if you want.
Hiding Pictures and Videos on Your iPhone
To hide any picture or video in your iPhone’s Photos app, open it up, tap the ellipsis (•••) icon in the top area, choose “Hide,” and then select “Hide Photo” or “Hide Video” from the actions that appear.
You can also hide multiple photos and videos at the same time. From a grid view in the Library, Albums, or Search tab, choose “Select” at the top, pick all the content you want to hide, tap the ellipsis (•••) icon in the bottom area, choose “Hide,” and then select “Hide [#] Photos,” “Hide [#] Videos,” or “Hide [#] Items” from the actions that appear.
Locating the Hidden Album on Your iPhone
You can find your Hidden album at the bottom of the Albums tab when images and videos are hidden. By default, you will be able to see the album, which will tell you how many photos and/or videos are in the folder.
Locking the Hidden Album on Your iPhone
Since anyone with access to your iPhone can find and browse your Hidden album, Apple included a new feature on iOS 16.0 and later to lock the folder behind biometric authentication. With it enabled, nobody will be able to break into your Hidden album unless they can crack your passcode.
To enable biometric authentication protection, go to Settings –> Photos, then toggle on the “Use Face ID” or “Use Touch ID” switch. Turning this switch on also locks all your Recently Deleted images and videos behind biometrics. The switch cannot be disabled without biometrics or a passcode, so someone borrowing your iPhone can’t go there and turn it off quickly to take a peek at your protected media.
Find your Hidden album at the bottom of the Albums tab to try it out. When locked, it will no longer show how many photos and/or videos you have in the album. Tap it, then use your face or fingerprint to bypass the lock and view your secret content.
If biometrics aren’t working for you at that moment, or if someone else has your iPhone and is trying to access your private media, Face ID or Touch ID will fail. Tapping “Try Face ID Again” or “Try Touch ID Again” gives another shot, but then it’ll default to “Enter Passcode.”
If you are using a four-digit or six-digit passcode, it’s not impossible to crack it and get in. So if someone manages to unlock your iPhone with a cracked passcode, they’ll also be able to unlock your hidden photos and videos. To beef up security, consider using a longer passcode or an alphanumeric one.
Hiding the Hidden Album on Your iPhone
If you want to go the extra mile to keep your private photos and videos out of sight, you can hide your Hidden album, available since iOS 14. Go to Settings –> Photos, then turn off the “Show Hidden Album” switch. This won’t delete any of your hidden content; it will only hide the folder from plain sight. Any time you want to view your secret media again, go back to this menu and turn the switch back on first.
Unfortunately, anyone with access to your unlocked iPhone can find the Show Hidden Album switch and enable it, so it’s vital to also use the switch that enables biometrics. That way, unhiding the album won’t do anyone much good unless that anyone is you.
Viewing Your Hidden Album on Other Devices
It’s important to note that anything you hide in your Hidden album will also be hidden on all your other Apple devices, as long as they have iCloud Photos enabled. On an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings –> General –> iCloud Photos to ensure it’s enabled. On a Mac, go to Photos –> Settings in the menu bar, choose the “iCloud” tab, and ensure iCloud Photos is checked.
To view photos and videos on your iPad, use the same process above. On a Mac, you’ll find the Hidden album under Photos in the sidebar or via View –> Photos –> Hidden in the menu bar. If you don’t see the album, go to View –> Show Hidden Photo Album in the menu bar to unhide it.
The biometric authentication switch does not sync with your other iCloud devices, so you’ll have to enable protection on each device manually. For iPad, use the same steps above. On a Mac, go to Photos –> Settings in the menu bar, then ensure the “Use Touch ID or password” or “Use password” box is checked.
Keep Your Connection Secure Without a Monthly Bill. Get a lifetime subscription to VPN Unlimited for all your devices with a one-time purchase from the new Gadget Hacks Shop, and watch Hulu or Netflix without regional restrictions, increase security when browsing on public networks, and more.
Other worthwhile deals to check out: