How to prevent kids from sharing photos and videos to specific apps on iPhone and iPad

iOS 9 Restrictions Photos iPhone screenshot 001

Are you a parent to a kid who just can’t get enough of that iPhone? If so, you’re probably concerned that the junior might post candid shots from your photo library to social media, be it by accident or intentionally.

Your photos are your business and iOS lets you determine which apps are allowed to access your Photos library. As you know, this can be set on a per-app basis in Settings → Privacy → Photos.

This tutorial goes one step further, leveraging parental controls to lock down Photos privacy settings for apps. This should be enough to prevent your kids from re-enabling apps to access media in Photos without your restrictions passcode.

How to restrict photo and video sharing on iPhone and iPad

1) Go to Settings → General → Restrictions on your device.

2) If asked, provide your Restrictions passcode.

enter passcode enable restrictions

If you have not used Restrictions before, tap Enable Restrictions at the top. Then, create a restrictions passcode that you’ll need to enable or disable Restrictions and adjust restricted settings on your device.

Tip: Your restrictions passcode should be different from the passcode for unlocking your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. Forgetting it will prevent you from making any changes to Restrictions. You’ll need to restore your device in order to reset the restrictions passcode.

3) Scroll halfway down and tap Photos underneath the Privacy heading.

4) You shall be presented with a list of apps installed on your device which have requested access to your media library in Photos. Toggle any apps that you don’t want to access your photos and videos.

Tip: Changes you make here are also reflected in Settings → Privacy → Photos.

5) Lastly, tap the Don’t Allow Changes option at the top of the screen.

Prevent apps from posting photos

6) Go back to the root-level menu or exit Settings.

The effects of restricted Photos library

Tapping Don’t Allow Changes is the crucial step.

This switch basically disallows all further changes to Settings → Privacy → Photos unless you turn off Restrictions for Photos. As a bonus safeguard, any new apps you install won’t be allowed to use Photos library on this device when this option is enabled.

As an illustrative example, I disabled Facebook Messenger in Settings → General → Restrictions → Photos and then locked down my settings by tapping Don’t Allow Changes.

Can't post photos to Messenger

From now on, attempting to post a photo to Messenger—either through the app or using Messenger’s Share sheet extension from another app—will yield no result.

As evidenced on the screenshot above, up pops a prompt asking me to enable Photos access for the Messenger app. But as I have locked down my Photos restrictions, the option to enable Photos access for Messenger is now greyed out in Settings → Privacy → Photos.

This is an effective way to bar my nephew from re-enabling Photos access for Facebook Messenger: he would need to know my restrictions passcode to disable Restrictions on my device. Conversely, tapping Allow Changes in Settings → General → Restrictions → Photos would allow anyone in possession of my device to permit specific apps to use my Photos library.

Other Restrictions tips and tricks

Much like Parental Controls on macOS and iTunes, the Restrictions feature on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad makes it simple to prevent certain features on your device from being used or exposed to the user.

Parents might want to use this feature to prevent kids from deleting apps on their device, disable In-App Purchases, set content restrictionsrestrict explicit music from appearing in playlists, block certain websites, filter mature language for Siri and Dictation, disallow changes to certain settings like the volume limit and prohibit the use of certain apps, such as FaceTime.

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