How to safely lend your phone to someone else?

From the cousin who wants to game for a few minutes, to the friend who wants to see your holiday snaps, to the stranger who needs to call, there will be people who will want to borrow your phone.

That’s quite a privacy and security risk when you think about everything your phone gives you access to: social media profiles, banking information, instant messenger conversations, photos and videos you’d rather not see, and so on.

However, there are ways to hand over your phone to someone else without worrying about what they can do with it. You just need to make sure you’ve taken a few precautions before the exchange takes place.


Guided Access is built into iOS.

Apple via David Nield

(Apple via David Nield)

The feature you should know on iPhone is called Guided Access and you can enable it by opening iOS Settings and choosing Accessibility and Guided Access. Turn on the Guided Access toggle switch and the feature is ready to use. Make sure to use the passcode settings to set a passcode to protect the guided access mode.

To actually enable Guided Access, you’ll need to triple tap the home button if your iPhone has one, or the side button if it doesn’t. You can then tap Options to configure how Guided Access will work: you can restrict access to things like the volume buttons and the software keyboard. You can even disable touchscreen functionality and put a limit on Guided Access mode. Tapping Start will launch Guided Access.

Whoever is using the iPhone will then be locked into the current app, so you’ll need to open the app in question — the phone app, a particular game, or whatever it is — before triple-tapping the button on your device to launch Guided Access. You’ll exit Guided Access by tapping the same button three more times, after which you’ll need the passcode you set at the start.

The idea is that without the passcode, the person using your iPhone won’t be able to get out of the app you placed it in — there’s no way to switch apps, open Control Center, or even turn off the phone. However, it’s worth being aware of the app they’re in and what they can do in that app: if you show someone your photos, they’ll have access to them all.