How To Hide Apps on Android [November 2019]
There are multiple different reasons that you might want to hide or discreetly display an application on your Android phone or tablet. Perhaps you routinely lend your tablet to a child in your family or coworker, and would prefer it if your hentai app didn’t decide to launch itself during one of these lending sessions. Maybe you’re trying to hide an app you can’t uninstall from your phone from your app drawer because you don’t want it taking up any of your real estate. Or maybe you just don’t want anyone to know you have specific applications installed on your phone. No matter what the reason, the problem persists: you want to hide these apps from anyone using your phone, and you aren’t sure how.
Good news: there are a bunch of different ways to hide or move applications on your phone. No matter your cause, you’ll be able to make sure no one—in some cases, not even yourself—can use your hidden applications. We have a bunch of different methods to explore, with each one working a bit better for one specific use case over the others. So pull your phone out, and let’s hide some of your apps away for safe keeping in this guide to hiding apps on Android.
(Did you want to learn about hiding apps on iPhone instead? We have you covered!”
Uninstalling and Disabling Apps You Don’t Need
Let’s start with the easiest and most effective example, for those readers trying to simply remove applications from their device completely. A lot of Android devices—especially those that come straight from mobile carriers instead of being unlocked—tend to come with a lot of janky or unnecessary software pre-installed on the device. Smartphones from Verizon and AT&T, specifically, tend to be some of the worst examples of carrier bloatware taking up space on your device, and bogging it down with unneeded performance problems and notifications. In some cases, you can fully uninstall this software the way you would with any other app: press and hold the icon and drag it to the “Uninstall” prompt at the top of the display.
For a lot of this software, though, the best you can do is “Disable” the app. Disabling apps on your device won’t erase them from your system partition; they’ll still take up space on your device as before. The good news, however, is disabling an app can give nearly the same benefits to your device as a simple uninstall. A disabled application can’t push notifications, run in the background, or show up on your device. The only place you’ll see a disabled app is inside your application manager, with a “Disabled” tag attached to the name. It’s unfortunate that you can’t uninstall certain bloatware applications on some devices, but disabling them is the next best thing, and it often comes with a performance boost attached.
If you’ve never disabled an app before, it’s a little different than a simple uninstall. You need to disable the app from the application manager, and there are two ways to get here. The standard way: head into your settings menu and find the “Apps” menu under the “Phone” category; on the simplified settings menu, it has its own category. Inside “Apps,” tap “Application manager.” This will give you a full list of your installed applications, both from the Play Store and included on your phone. The list is in alphabetical order, so scroll through the list of applications and find the app or apps you want to disable. Once you’re inside the application menu, you’ll see an option to disable the app where the “Uninstall” option is normally listed. Tap “Disable,” and then tap “OK” on the prompt warning you disabling apps can cause problems with your phone. The app might have to uninstall updates briefly to return back to the factory version. Once the process is complete, the app will be disabled on your device.
There’s a faster way to get to the application settings to disable an app. Rather than digging through the application manager for every application, simply drag the app of your choice to the “App Info” icon at the top of your screen. This opens up right on the application settings display, and you can disable the app right away. Continue this process for any and all of the apps you want off your device, but can’t uninstall. There are typically a few apps that can’t be disabled; you’ll have to leave those be for now, and they’ll still be able to run on your device. The good news: we can still hide those apps from your phone, to de-clutter your device.
Use Third-Party Launchers to Hide
Whether you’re trying to hide a system app you don’t need and can’t uninstall, or you’re hiding a utility to which you don’t need constant access from your app drawer, third-party launchers make it really easy to hide applications from your app drawer while still leaving them on your device. There are plenty of applications made to run in the background of your device—like notification light tweaks or apps that disable the button lights on phones like the Galaxy S6 or S7—that you don’t need in your app drawer, and that’s where third-party launchers come in..
We’re using Nova in our screenshots, which is a resource-light launcher that emulates Google’s standard Android interface on the Pixel phone. While most launchers from the Play Store have the ability to hide apps, they all do it in their own individual ways, so if you’re using something like Apex or Action Launcher 3, you’ll want to check inside your launcher’s settings to see if there’s a way to hide apps from the app drawer.
Start by finding the app you want to hide inside your app drawer. Tap and hold the icon, and the app drawer will close. Drag the icon up to the “Edit” icon in the top-right corner of the home screen. A pop-up for the application’s Nova settings will appear, with a couple of different options. We want to uncheck the “Apps” setting, which will stop displaying the application inside the app drawer. You’ll still be able to use the app, and you can open the app by searching the name inside the app drawer, even when the app is hidden.
You can also hide apps by going into Nova’s settings display, tapping the “App and widget drawers” option, and scrolling all the way to the bottom of the menu to find “Hide apps” under the “Drawer groups” category. Inside the “Hidden Apps” menu, you can check any and all apps you want hidden from Nova’s drawer.
One often overlooked method of “hiding” apps involves the creation of folders on your home screen. Label a folder “Tax Filings” and you can at the least guarantee that examining the contents of that folder will be the last task on any phone searcher’s agenda. Then you can drag as many apps as you want to the folder, so this method doubles as an extremely useful technique for redoing your home page. To create a folder, simply drag one icon onto another. The second icon transforms into a new folder, with both of the apps now living and working within that folder.
And that’s all you need to work with folders and hide your apps that way.
There are a number of apps on the Play Store that promise to be able to hide apps from your device, but for the most part, they either don’t work or require root access on your phone—and if you aren’t rooted, it’s easier to just install a third-party launcher to do the same thing. There are a number of “App Locker” apps on the Play Store that, while not necessarily hiding your apps from your phone, can at the very least put a password on those specific apps on your phone to protect unidentified users from accessing apps like your contacts or your bank account. If you’re interested in something like this, we suggest using AppLock Fingerprint, a decent app locking tool that can use your fingerprint to unlock any app you deem worth protecting.
Unfortunately, beyond using a third-party launcher, it’s tough to hide apps from your phone without outright disabling or uninstalling them. But password-protecting apps from intruders is a good middle ground that, while not outright hiding your apps, will secure your private apps enough that family members, children, or intruders can’t access your data without your permission.
Hiding things in plain sight isn’t limited to software. If cable spread drives you crazy, try these cable sleeves! Very attractive, unobtrusive, and cheap to boot.