No matter how clean or secure your phone is, we all experience some anxiety when someone borrows it - even if only for a few minutes. For better or worse, we use our smartphones to manage critical parts of our lives, and one errant text or accidental “I left that photo up in my list of recently used apps” can cause a tremendous amount of grief.
Android users have it easy, though. Your devices come with a special “guest mode” that can give you a lot more peace of mind (and secure your smartphone’s contents) if you’re letting someone borrow your precious for a moment.
How to turn on guest mode in Android
As the name implies, guest mode creates a temporary account on your device. Guest accounts are separate from your main Google account, which means your primary contacts, files, and photos can’t be accessed by guest profiles. In other words, swap over to the guest profile when you hand off your phone and your critical data will be off-limits.
Most contemporary Androids have this feature, which can be found in your Settings app:
Go to Settings; System; Advanced; Multiple Users. (This varies between devices and versions of Android. Another possible location is Settings; Users and accounts; Users; Guest. If you can’t find it, try searching your settings for “User.”)
This menu lists all the Google accounts synced to your device. You’ll find the “Guest” account at the bottom of the list.
Tap “Guest” to swap over to guest mode. It may take a couple of seconds to enable. Note: Guest accounts can’t make phone calls by default. To enable guest calls, tap the gear-shaped icon next to “Guest” and tap the slider on to allow phone calls.
When you’re ready to swap back, navigate back to the same section as before and then tap the new “Remove guest” option. This swaps back to your main profile and deletes any apps, call history, or other data from the guest session.