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What you need to know about the Note 7's Secure Folder

Get the most out of Samsung's added security feature.

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Let's face it, we all experience a brief moment of anxiety when handing our phone to a friend or family member, even if for a brief moment. Or at least I do. It's not that I have anything to hide, simply that my phone has personal thoughts and information I don't necessarily want just anyone to see.

Conversations with friends, messages with my wife, work emails, photos of my rather mundane life. Handing a phone to someone is akin to opening up your diary to them and hoping they only read the one page.

Enter the Note 7's Secure Folder.

It's in the Secure Folder you can keep notes, apps, pictures, contacts, email accounts or third-party apps you don't want easily accessible, even if by accident. In order for anyone to access the Secure Folder on your Note 7, he or she will have to know your password or steal your fingerprint or iris scan to get into it.

Enough rambling, let's talk about of the Secure Folders key features. Start by opening the Secure Folder and following the setup prompts.

You set a password, now what?

After the initial setup where you're asked to set a password, you're taken to the default view of the folder. In it you'll find the following apps:

  • Gallery
  • Camera
  • Contacts
  • Email
  • Internet
  • My Files
  • Samsung Notes

These apps are identical in name and functionality to the apps you have outside the secure folder, only they are what amount to fresh installs of each app. Any photos, notes, contacts or web browsing you do with these apps while in the Secure Folder will stay separate from the apps you have outside of the folder.

Secure third-party apps

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

As useful as the system apps are, you will likely want to keep some third-party apps behind an extra layer of security. To do that, open the Secure Folder and then tap on + Add. Scroll through the list of apps, select those you'd like to install in the Secure Folder, then tap Add.

As with the system apps, any apps you add to the secure folder won't carry over any information, settings, or login information. You're basically making a copy of the app, which allows you to log in to it with a different account (handy if you have a work and personal Snapchat account, for example).

Apps stored in the Secure Folder will receive notifications as any other app does, however you can control how much information is shown (if any) through the Secure Folder's settings screen.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Access secure apps from your homescreen

Long press on an app icon in the Secure Folder to rearrange the order, uninstall it from the folder or to place a shortcut to the secured app on your homescreen.

The process of opening your secure folder, then finding an app, opening it, and entering a password is anything but streamlined and likely to discourage people from using Secure Folder. Thankfully, you can place a shortcut to the secure versions on your homescreen.

Drag any app to the Add to Home Screen button at the top of the page. You can quickly identify which apps are part of the Secure Folder -- thus requiring a extra authentication to open -- thanks to the lock icon placed on the app's icon.

Completely hide the Secure Folder (almost)

When viewing your Secure Folder, tap on the menu button (three-dot icon) and tap on Settings. Mixed in with the options to control notifications for secured apps, change the lock type and the auto lock settings, is an option to hide the secure folder from your homescreen and app drawer.

Once enabled, you can only open the Secure Folder after going through several settings screens.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET