Understanding Hidden Photos

In the Photos app you can hide photos both on the Mac and on iOS. Hidden photos will disappear from Photos view, albums and other views, but they will appear in a special Hidden album. This feature is not meant to be a secure way to protect photos, but just a tool to hide photos before deleting them or to take off photos out of normal viewing methods when they don't belong there.

Video Transcript
So in the Photos app, both on the Mac and iOS, you have the ability to hide photos. Now a lot of people misunderstand what this feature is for. It's not meant to be any kind of secure place to put your photos where others can't get to them. It's just kind of a casual feature that has some very basic uses. Let's take a look at it and I'll give you some examples.

Here I'm just viewing some photos using the Photos view, here, of my library and I selected a photo. Now if I go to Image I can see in that menu there I've got Hide 1 photo. Of course if I've selected multiple photos it might say Hide 2 or Hide 3 photos. You can see that Command L is the shortcut. So what happens when I choose that. You can see I get a little message here that the photo will be hidden from all places in your library but can be found in the Hidden Album. So I'll hit Hide Photo and you can see it goes away.

Now on the left I don't see any Hidden Album here. The way I get to that is I go to View and I turn on Show Hidden Photo Album. When I do Hidden appears there on the left. So you can see it's very easy to get to. Just by hiding a photo it's not hard at all for somebody to see all your hidden photos. They just need to go to View. If it's not already shown they can Show the Hidden Photo Album. You can see now I can hide it. Then click on it and there's all of your hidden photos. So any photo you've marked as hidden is going to appear there.

Now you can select it and go to Image. You can see now the menu choice changes to Unhide 1 photo which will undo that. You can also use Command Z or edit Undo to do it if it was the last thing that you did. So that's the basics. It takes the photo out of your Photos View in Library so it doesn't appear there anymore. It will also take it out of places like Memories. If you look at some of these other types of views like People and Places and things like that the photo won't appear there.

Now this is even true for albums that you've created. Either smart albums or albums where you've manually put the albums in there. I've got this photo included in the Colors album I've created but you don't see it because it's hidden and in the Flowers smart album because it's tagged as a picture with flowers in it and the smart album has all of those. But it's not there. So if I go back to the Hidden Album there and I select the image and Unhide it, I can see it now appears again in Photos. It appears in my Colors album and in my Flowers album as well.

So it hides it from everywhere. I say that because I believe this wasn't true in previous versions of Photos and it would appear in albums you created and perhaps even smart albums as well. I'm not sure. So now it actually gets rid of it everywhere. The only place you find it is if you go to the Hidden Album. So this is the only place it will appear now is if you go to this album.

By the way this is how you do it on the iPhone or iPad. You would select a picture and when you're there you would use the Action button or Share button at the bottom left, in this case on the iPhone it will be different, and you can then look for the ability here at the bottom to Hide the photo. You get a similar warning there and you hit Hide.
Now if you're using iCloud Photo Library, of course, this all syncs back and forth. So you can Hide something on one device and it will be hidden in your library across all of your devices as well.

So if it's so easy to reveal the Hidden Album and view your hidden photos then what good is this feature. Well, it's not meant to be a security feature. It's not meant to be something where you hide away photos that you don't want anybody else to see. It's meant to be more of a casual convenience for you. So, for instance, say you're in a habit of taking pictures of documents. Maybe receipts, maybe take a picture of identification documents when you travel. Then you notice that when you want to go and flip through your photos and maybe show some people your photos these things appear there and it's kind of, you know, just something you want to avoid having those things revealed. You just want to stick to your actual regular photos. So you can then hide those kinds of things. They'll only appear in the Hidden Album. So it's kind of convenient that way.

I've used it in the past when I've taken pictures, like I said, of receipts. It's just convenient for me when I'm traveling just to do it on my phone. Just take the picture really quick. Later on I'm going to off-load them and put them somewhere else. But in the meantime I make each one of those hidden so as I try to view my photos I'm not stuck looking at all of these different documents rather than concentrating on my actual photos. It's kind of useful for things like that.

Some people may want to use them even more intensely for photos they don't like. Maybe they've taken multiple shots of the same thing and they kind of want to hide the ones they're not interested in or thinking that they may want to delete later on but want to review them first. You may come up with different uses for this Hidden Album. It's meant to be kind of a versatile tool. Not a security tool. So just use it with that in mind.

Comments: 2 Responses to “Understanding Hidden Photos”

    Anne Burke
    5/24/18 @ 3:26 pm

    Excellent Gary, I’ve always been curious about “Hidden photos” & now that I understand it, I’ll be able to put it to very good use. Thank you

    Jummy
    5/24/18 @ 4:27 pm

    So happy to learn this tip. I’ve always wished there was a way to hide photos. i will use it all the time.

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