The Galaxy S5 from Samsung is ripe with features. Some have been around for a while, and others are fairly new to the latest flagship from Samsung. Private mode is one that lets you activate your device while tucking some features or files you may not want others to see. If you’ve been wondering how to set it up and take advantage, we’ll give you the rundown.


The first thing you’ll need to do is drag your notification pane down, and hit your “settings” icon at the top right (the gear). Once in there, scroll down until you see the “Personalization” header, and select the “Private Mode” icon. From there, it’s a matter of setting it up — which takes a bit of time, but is likely worth it.


Once you have Private Mode open, all you need to do is select your preferred method for unlocking it. Regardless of what you pick, you’l be asked to select a backup method. When we created a pattern, we were asked to select a PIN as a backup. The way Samsung has chosen to set this all up is nice, because by entering it multiple times you’re likely to remember your unlock code. Selecting a fail-safe PIN is also effective.

GS5 Private Mode Screen AC

Yes means No with Samsung

After you set up Private Mode with your PIN, pattern or whatever is best for you, you then navigate through various files to ask that they be hidden. It’s pretty straightforward — you select files, then hit the menu button. From there, you select “Move”, then “Private”. In “Private”, you can create a folder of your own, or just put stuff into an existing spot.

When you’ve got Private Mode active, it lets you see everything. When you turn it off, that’s when things are hidden. It’s a bit counterintuitive, wherein the actual Private Mode acts more as a means to hide files — a settings menu of sorts. Keep that in mind — turning Private Mode off really means you turned it on.

GS5 Private Mode Select AC

A bit clumsy

Another odd issue is Samsung has no simple way to manage your hidden files. If you hide a few pictures or documents, then decide you no longer care to have them hidden, you’d have to select each file manually from the Gallery, Downloads, or wherever you have them and move them out of a private section manually. Getting things out of a private partition is just as cumbersome as moving them in. We should also mention that it’s only good for locally stored files, so that text conversation you may not want anyone to get hold of isn’t safeguarded, here.

Private Mode also doesn’t seem to want you to disable it. Once you activate it (which kind of means deactivate it), there is no turning back. In Private Mode, Samsung hasn’t made a “turn feature off” readily available. You can keep it on so everything is available, but that leaves a pesky notification in your tray. To really go back to “normal”, you’d have to select files one by one and move them out of private, then “deactivate” Private Mode.

GS5 Private Mode Select 2 AC

Usable, but rough around the edges

Private Mode is fantastic if you have a folder or various files you don’t want anyone to see. It’s all a bit of a conundrum, though. It seems the more you use it, the deeper you dig yourself a hole with it. It’s also not easy to simply stop using it, which speaks to who Samsung sees as wanting to take advantage, here.

Samsung clearly envisions this for people who don’t want to stop using Private Mode. For business use, especially a BYOD environment, we like this feature. The last thing you want is someone seeing pics of your night out should they find your device around the office. For casual users who just want to let friends fiddle with their cool new toy without seeing private info or other stuff, Kids Mode may be a better option. We’ll be taking a look at setting that tomorrow.