If your friend asks to borrow your phone and you have sensitive information (texts, images, videos, files, banking info, etc.) that you don’t like to share, you could always ask them not to be nosey.
However, who knows where their fingers might go and there’s a very good chance of them browsing through your personal data.
If asking nicely isn’t gonna stop them, you could always set up a Guest mode before handing over your phone.
You can block out those sensitive data and apps behind a wall to help ensure that those things remain untouched. That way, you don’t have to worry about them going through your apps, messages, contacts or photos.
That is where Android Guest Mode comes in. This feature has been available since 2014 when Google introduced the Android 5.0 Lollipop OS.
What is Android Guest Mode?
An android guest mode is an option available that lets you hide everything from your apps, images, files, messages, contacts, etc but still keep your phone functional.
It will take you back to the moment when you just got your phone with nothing on it and is as good as a fresh install of Android OS.
Guest Mode will create a temporary account and only allow the user to see and access the default/essential apps such as YouTube, Gmail, Google Chrome, and Google Maps but won’t be able to see any other data.
Related read: How to Drop a Pin in Google Maps
Guest users will still be able to make calls, install apps from PlayStore (must sign in with another Google account), and download their own files, but nothing will collide with your account. All the data saved in the guest mode will be removed the moment you switch back to your original Google account.
Why You Should Use Android Guest Mode?
For instance, you’re on public transport and a stranger asks to borrow your phone to make a private call. Obviously, you wouldn’t want them to snoop around.
Or maybe you have a friend who likes to mess around in your social apps like Facebook or Instagram? Or you just like to have a distraction-free phone for a while without any notifications, messages, phone calls, etc.
Note: Guest users will be able to switch back to your account if they are aware of it any time; however, if you have your Android device locked with a PIN or password unless you give them your PIN, they will not be able to get past the lock screen.
How to Set up Guest Mode on Android Phone
Not all Android phones have guest mode capability, however, the Guest mode is usually available on Android phones running 5.0 Lollipop and above.
The steps to set up guest mode on Android are not the same for all device and depends on your Android version and device’s manufacturer.
Here are the step-by-step guide to set-up Guest mode:
- Swipe down from the top of the screen on your device to open your notifications.
- At the top right, tap on your avatar/profile icon on the notifications bar.
- Next, tap Add Guest to switch to guest mode.
Alternative Way to Turn on Android’s Guest mode:
- Head over to Settings < System < Advanced < Multiple users and enable multiple users if it isn’t turned on already.
Each device has different navigation. Here are a few of the common ones.
- Settings < Users and accounts < Users < Guest OR
- Settings < Privacy and Safety < Private mode OR
- Settings < System < Multiple users < Guest.
- Tap on Add guest to switch over to guest mode.
How Android Guest Mode Looks
The guest mode will feature only the apps that come default and preloaded with your device.
None of your media files (images, video, files) will be available and your downloaded apps will not appear.
How to Add an Android Guest User
- From your home screen, swipe down the notification panel and expand the menu.
- Tap on the subtle human icon and click on Add user.
- This allows you to set up a secondary user with its own space on your device.
- After your phone switches to the “Set up new user” page, tap on Continue.
- Create or log in with your Google account email for the new user.
Once that is finished, your Android device should look the way it did when it was first took it out of the box.
How to Switch Back to your main Profile
- Similarly from adding an Android Guest to switching back to your main profile, swipe down and expand the menu.
- Tap on the subtle icon of a human head and switch over.
How to delete a Guest/New account
Similar to enabling android Guest Mode, Tap on the subtle icon of a human head and click on Settings at the bottom.
Find the Guest account that you want to delete and tap on the Gear Icon next to it. Click Remove user.
What Gets Shared Between Accounts
If you don’t already know, every account on your phone shares updates made to apps like Wi-Fi network details and paired Bluetooth devices.
This means that when one of the user updates an app, it’s updated for all users including the original account and newly created users.
However, the texts, files, emails, etc are not stored within apps and between the guest mode and primary account. When you switch over to the other account, you won’t see the activities and files from the other account.
You don’t necessarily have to Set up Guest Mode on Android just because your kid wanna watch some YouTube videos or your friend wanna make a quick phone call. You have to know when and when not to enable guest mode.
However, take advantage of the mode to make sure that your personal information is only available to you.
If your phone doesn’t support Guest mode, there are tons of privacy apps that can block access to certain apps and files. Guest Mode is the answer to avoid prying eyes when you hand your device over to your friends.