How to Secure Google Drive With Face ID or Touch ID on iPhone and iPad

How to Secure Google Drive With Face ID or Touch ID on iPhone and iPad

We often store important files and folders in Google Drive. But if you tend to leave your iPhone or iPad unlocked, anyone can just open the app and access its content. That’s why it’s essential to secure your important Google Drive files with Face ID or Touch ID authentication on your iPhone and iPad.

It becomes essential to secure these files if they contain sensitive information or if they are shared files. So shouldn’t Google Drive include another layer of security to protect them? Well, you are surprised – the app comes with functionality built into a feature called Privacy Screen.

Let’s see how the privacy screen works in Google Drive, how to activate it on your iPhone or iPad, and a few things to watch out for after activating the feature.

How the privacy screen works in Google Drive

The privacy screen helps prevent unauthorized access to Google Drive, especially when you leave your iPhone or iPad unlocked. Activate it, and the user will have to go through Face ID or Touch ID authentication each time the application is opened.

Note: You can choose to delay the authentication screen authentication prompts if you wish – instructions below below.

In addition, the application selector on iPhone and iPad will also hide the standard Google Drive snapshot, preventing others from previewing files or folders in the cloud storage service.

What if Face ID or Touch ID fails to register? After two attempts, Google Drive will automatically prompt you to use your lock screen password instead. So don’t worry about getting out of the app because of the face or a sweaty finger.

How to defer the privacy screen in Google Drive

By default, the privacy screen is designed to request Face ID or Touch ID authentication each time you open Google Drive. This happens even when you return to Google Drive from another application.

On iPhones and iPads with Face ID, authentication is fairly painless. But the repeated use of Touch ID can become tedious, especially when multitasking on the iPad.

Unless you intend to be extremely careful, you can delay the Face ID / Touch ID prompts. Go back to the same place you visited to activate the privacy screen (check step 4 above) and press the Delay option.

On the screen that follows, you can choose the delay time between 10 seconds, 1 minute or 10 minutes.

Once you’ve done that, Google Drive only requires Face ID or Touch ID authentication when opening or returning to the app depending on the duration you select.

Things to consider when using the privacy screen

With the privacy screen enabled in Google Drive for your iPhone or iPad, there are a few issues (functional and privacy related) to take into account.

Google Drive becomes unusable with the Files app

Google Drive works as an integrated cloud storage for the Files app. But when you turn on the privacy screen, the Files app will no longer display the contents of this Google Drive folder.

Instead, you will see an Authentication Required screen. But you can’t “ authenticate ” the Files app to connect to Google Drive with the privacy screen turned on. The only way to use Google Drive in the Files app is to turn off the privacy screen.

Search suggestions will include Google Drive history

Your Google Drive history will always appear in searches you do on your iPhone or iPad.

If you’ve recently accessed files in Google Drive, entering all of the matching keywords will bring up the reference to those files on the results screen. You can block search results related to Google Drive via iPhone / iPad Settings> Drive> Siri & Search.

Google Drive notifications are not affected

Enabling the privacy screen will not prevent any Google Drive notifications from being displayed.

If you want to prevent notifications related to shared files, comments or requests from appearing around others, you can deactivate them via the Notifications section of the Settings pane of Google Drive.

You can still access files with apps connected to Google Drive

Google’s productivity apps (Docs, Sheets, or Slides) will always allow you to access supported documents stored in Google Drive without any restrictions. If this is a problem, you may want to remove these apps from your iPhone or iPad.

Private and secure

The privacy screen is a great implementation in Google Drive and helps you make your documents more secure. If you’re not relying heavily on using Google’s cloud storage service through the Files app, this feature is worth using to secure your files.

Now, what about something with the likes of OneDrive Personal Vault? This would make securing sensitive files in Google Drive even more convenient. We look forward to it in the next Google Drive updates.


About to run out of Google Drive storage? Find out what you can do to free up storage space.

Last updated on May 15, 2020

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