Handing your phone to a friend? Make sure they can use only one app!

Pin an app to your Android phone’s lock screen

by: - Last updated on: June 9th, 2021
Key Takeaways
  • We often end up handing our phones to friends and acquaintances when they need to check an app or search for some information.
  • The problem with handing over your phone to someone else is that they may access your information on it. Nosy Nancies everywhere.
  • You can restrict the amount of information people see on your phone by pinning an app to the home screen, ensuring that they cannot go beyond that one app.

I need to check this product. Can I borrow your phone to browse Amazon?

Hey, just give me your phone for a minute. I just need to check my mail!

I cannot find the store. Hand me your phone – I will just check Google Maps!

handover phone

It may be generous, but it can also be daunting handing your phone to someone, even for a brief while to access an app or show them something on your device. The paranoia that this person will accidentally/ intentionally find their way into an app or information that you do not wish them to seem very real. Let’s face it, we all have nosy Nancies in our lives that are always prying and while it may be difficult to cut them out of our lives completely, you can make sure there is one less way for them to poke their nose where they do not belong, i.e, your business.

Fortunately, when it comes to handing your phone to another person (nosy Nancy or not), there is a way in which you can keep them from wandering around and restrict them to a single app. Just follow these simple steps to get the job done:

(Note: this works only on Android phones. Also, we are showing the steps for standard Stock Android. These might vary in other interfaces.)

Step 1: Open Settings app and select Security

Step1 1

On your Android smartphone, you have to find the Settings app. It is a system app that comes pre-installed on all Android phones and should be pretty easy to spot. Once you have got your fingers on the Settings app, open it and you will find a list of new options. From this list, you have to find and select the option, Security.

Step 2: Head to Advanced

Step 2

The Security page is divided into different sections and one of them is Advanced What we are looking for next will be found here.

Step 3: Tap on App Pinning

Step3 1

Once you have selected Advance from the list of options, and there you will see the option that matters: App Pinning.

Step 4: Switch on App Pinning and set a PIN to unpin too

Step4 1

You will find that the feature App Pinning is turned off by default. You can turn it on by simply tapping on the toggle opposite to “off” on your screen. It will then turn blue and read “on”. This means you are all set to start pinning apps on your home screen. You will see some warnings about how data could still be accessible but those are for exceptional circumstances and just to keep you alert. After turning on Screen pinning, we suggest you also tap and turn on the “Ask for PIN before unpinning.” This would make sure that no one accidentally unpins the app and closes it without your pin code. Again a few warnings will appear, but once again, they are more to keep you alert.

Step 5: Access recently used apps

STep5 1

Now that we are through with the steps of turning the App Pinning feature on, pinning the app actually to the screen is just as simple a job. All you have to do is swipe up and open the Overview on your phone which basically would show all the apps you have recently used on your smartphone. If you are not using gestures, just tap the recently used apps button.

Step 6: Choose the app to pin…and pin it


Now long press on the icon (it will be on top of the app tab) of the app that you want to pin. This will unfurl a small banner of options. Amongst these options, you will find the one we have been looking for, “Pin”. Tap on it and a prompt message will appear on the screen telling you that this screen will be pinned on your lock screen unless you unpin it. Tap on “Got it” and voila! The screen is pinned (once again, you can safely ignore the warnings as long as the phone is within range). Now you can hand over the phone to your friend without any fear that they will snoop on its other contents.

Step 7: Got your phone back? Now unpin the app


Once you get your phone back, you can unpin the app and get back to business as usual. Unpinning the screen will depend on how you navigate through your smartphone. If you are using gesture navigation then you would have to swipe up and long press. If you are using a 2-button navigation process then you would need to tap and hold Back and Home icons simultaneously, and if you are navigating via 3-button navigation then you would have to tap and hold Back and the Overview (recently used apps) icons. If you have put in a pin code or password, then the device will ask you to put it in before unpinning the screen. Once you do that, the screen will be unpinned and you will be able to enjoy your regular smartphone experience. One thing you will not have to worry about is what the person might have sniffed through while using your phone.

Note: Once again, these are the steps you need to follow to pin an app on a Stock Android phone. Different phone manufacturers might have other steps depending on the Android UI they use – you can just head to search in the Settings and search for “app pinning” or “screen pinning.”

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