shhh privacy security dark

There is an abundance of third-party apps offering secure and private storage room for photos on your iPhone that are not necessarily meant for everyone’s eyes. As convenient as these can be, the crux with most privately-owned apps is that your pictures may end up being uploaded to somebody else’s (hopefully secure) server.

If you are already entrusting Apple with handling your most sensitive data and would like to keep it between the two of you, that does not mean you are barred from taking and privately storing photos. That is because if you know of a rather inconspicuous setting pertaining to the Notes app and acquaint yourself with a few gestures, swiftly taking and storing photos outside the Camera Roll becomes a breeze.

Here is how you can do it:

Before we delve into the shortcuts and how to use Notes for private photos, we need to do some groundwork:

1) Open Settings on your iPhone and tap Notes.

2) Locate the row that reads Save Media to Photos and deactivate the switch if turned on.

Notes Setting iOS10 camera roll

This way, media created within the Notes app is not going to be duplicated and will not be placed in your Photos app.

3) One more step of groundwork and we are ready to roll. If you already have the Notes app widget pinned to your widget screen, skip ahead to Step 5.

If you don’t, from your Lock screen or Home screen swipe right to open your panel of widgets, then scroll to the bottom of the list and hit Edit.

Tutorial Notes widget

4) Add the Notes widget as seen above.

5) Make sure the Notes widget is maximized (click Show More in the top right corner if it shows) and four shortcut icons will appear at the bottom: new note, new to do list, new photo and new sketch.

6) We’re ready to go: next time you want to quickly take and save a photo of for example sensitive data, instead of swiping left from your Lock screen (for quick camera access), start by swiping right from the Lock screen and hitting the camera button on the Notes widget.

tutorial notes widget shortcut

7) The camera app will automatically launch and allow you to take a photo. Once confirmed, the photo will be saved in a new note, which you can subsequently lock as pictured below:

tutorial notes lock

8) After touching the square icon in the top right corner of the note and tapping on Lock Note, use Touch ID or a password to conceal the note and thereby photo.

There you have it, your photo is stashed away securely. Courtesy of the Settings switch, no copy of it will wind up in your Photos app and the locking process ensures that – unlike unprotected entries – the preview of your new note will not boast a thumbnail of the picture in question.

You can rest assured that no one but you has clearance to re-open it and, best of all, no need for another third-party app to clog your Home screen.

  • 7000rpm

    Is the actions for the notes app only for iOS 10.2? I don’t see the camera icon in the widgets on iOS 10.1.1

    • Joaquim N.

      Just update to the latest iOS. It’s not like you are going to lose your JB anyway.

      • thunderqus

        Your suggestion still doesnt answer the question, does it? and just how do you know that, JB will never be released for 10.1.1 in future?

      • Joaquim N.

        Keep reading and eventually you gonna understand that I meant in the present. I’m not talking about the future or eventual possibilities because I’m not a fortune teller or whatever related.

        And by the way, I don’t JB, I don’t need it. And if you really needed, you would have it right now one way or another.

      • 7000rpm


      • mickey

        One way or the other? Not for those of us on ios10 and other versions without jailbreaks (9.3.5, 8.4.1, etc…).

      • mickey

        No, stay on 10.1.1 if you want a jailbreak! One is in the works by Luca.

        And also the camera icon should be there in 10.1.1 if you hit show more on the widget.

      • 7000rpm

        I hit the show more and still nothing. I didn’t even stop to second think about that comment to upgrade. Dork..

      • mickey

        Not sure why it’s not showing for you. Possibly delete and redownload the notes app? It is showing on 2 different 10.1.1 devices for me.

      • 7000rpm

        Delete? Will this errase my notes information??

      • mickey

        Not sure. Don’t think it should if you have your notes synced in iCloud.

    • MMA Rules
      • 7000rpm

        I know that lol. I’m taking about the shortcuts through the widget view in Notification Center empathized in this article.

      • MMA Rules

        Oh ok I got what you mean

  • mickey

    Nice tip! One downside to this is that it seems to unlock all the notes if I unlock one. And also doesn’t re-lock them again unless you do so manually or the app is killed in the app switcher. If you’re looking for a more robust solution there are numerous album apps in the AppStore. I especially like the secret calculator ones.

  • john snow

    Thank you!

  • Ricky Williams

    You might also want to add directions on how people can store notes on their phone as opposed to iCloud. Since if the picture is in notes synced to icloud the picture is technically still being synced to the cloud.