How to Find Hidden Message Apps on Android

Learn how to detect and find hidden messaging apps that may be installed on an Android device.

What are Hidden Message Apps?

Hidden message apps are messaging apps that are designed to hide their existence and content on an Android device. They often do not appear in the app drawer or list of installed apps. Examples include hidden SMS apps, secret messenger apps, private photo and video vault apps.

People may use these apps to hide communications or content from others who have access to their device. While they can be used for benign purposes, hidden messaging apps are also sometimes misused for inappropriate communications or cheating in relationships.

How to Find Hidden Message Apps on Android

Check for Duplicate Apps

Often hidden apps are disguised as other innocuous apps on your device. Check through your apps list and look for duplicates. For example, there may be two calculators where one is actually a secret messaging app in disguise.

Search App Settings and Permissions

Go to your phone settings and look at all apps listed under Settings > Apps. You can sort by date installed or size to spot newer or larger apps. Inspect permissions of suspicious apps to see what device access they have.

Use Detective and Scanner Apps

There are various “secret text detector” and “hidden app finder” apps you can download to actively scan your device and detect hidden apps. These work similarly to antivirus apps.

Manually Check File Folders

Use a file explorer or manager app to manually browse system files and folders on your Android device storage. Look for any suspicious or strangely named app packages (APK files) stored outside of the typical apps installation folders.

Other Ways to Monitor for Hidden Apps

Keep an eye on unexpected data usage, battery drain, or odd notifications which may indicate hidden app activity. Check device accessibility settings for anything enabling display over other apps or remote control.

Set up parental monitoring and time restrictions if you want to restrict particular apps and content on an Android device.

What to Do If You Find Hidden Apps

If you discover inappropriate, malicious, or undesirable hidden apps on your or someone else’s Android device, uninstall them right away. You may also want to have a conversation about why those apps were installed and how the device should be used responsibly going forward.

Monitoring apps and open communication can go a long way towards building trust and setting clear boundaries around device usage in families and relationships.


How can I tell if a messaging app is hidden?

Clues that a messaging app may be hidden include not appearing in your app list, having a generic name, lacking an icon, or being disguised as a different type of app.

Will factory reset remove hidden apps?

Yes, a factory reset will wipe all apps – including any hidden messaging apps – and restore the device to original factory conditions.

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