If you have only one computer at home, but you have to share it with everyone else, especially the kids, you wouldn’t want them to see stuff or run apps that aren’t for them. You’ll need a way to restrict them from running specific apps and games. It’s quite possible and there are several ways to do so. This time, we’ll discuss how to lock specific apps and games in Windows 10 or 11.
Knowing how to lock specific apps and games on PC is essential if you want family members or roommates to keep out of your personal business when they’re borrowing the use of your computer. Several browsers on the computer can be installed for example. You can restrict Firefox, which you use for personal reasons while keeping Chrome free to use. Or you have games that are too mature for the kids to play, or work-related business apps you don’t want anyone to mess with. So, without further ado, follow the steps to lock specific apps and games on your PC.
How to Lock Specific Apps and Games in Windows 10/11
Windows system has a built-in Applocker service to limit users from executing certain programs or apps. However, this feature is limited to Enterprise and Education versions. Special steps need to be taken to enable this for other versions of Windows. This tutorial is more focused on other methods for locking specific apps on your PC.
Method 1: Password Protect Apps using Folder Lock Application
This is the most convenient method for locking apps on Windows 10/11 as the in-built app locker service is more on the technical side. There are several apps available for this, but we’ll use Secretfolder as our choice app. This app is free but it’s ad-supported. Buy it to get rid of the apps if the program works well for you.
Download and install Secretfolder on your PC. Once installed, take note that it will disable the Windows Indexing Service which will affect the Windows file search feature. You can turn Index Search back on by enabling Windows Search from the ‘services’ app.
When Secretfolder is first opened, you’ll need to set up a password which you’ll later use in opening the apps you’ll be locking. Enter the password, then your email from which you’ll be able to recover it in case you forget.
On the next screen, you’ll need to select the folder where the program you want to lock is installed. Click on the Add button to do so and then browse for the app folder. Installed apps are generally located in the Program Files or Program Files (x86) folder – for 64-bit and 32-bit programs respectively. Drill down until you find the folder of the application you wish to lock. Then click Ok. The application will then be locked with a password. Repeat this process until all the apps you need are secured.
When you try to access the app from anywhere on Windows, you’ll get the message saying the app will no longer work properly. To unlock the app, open Secretfolder and enter your password. Select the locked app and click on the Unlock button. Anyone who wants to circumvent this by trying to uninstall Secretfolder won’t be able to do so without your password.
Method 2: Lock Apps in Windows using Group Policy
If for some reason, you don’t want to use Secretfolder, you can lock apps using Windows Group Policy. To do this, press the Win button + R, and type “gpedit.msc” on the Run screen, and click OK. This will open the Group Policy Editor.
Go to ‘User Configuration’ and then to ‘Administrative Templates’. Then click on ‘System’. Double-click on ‘Don’t Run specified Windows Applications’. Select Enabled and then click on the Show button. Then enter the name of the executable file of the application you wish to block. You can get the name of the executable file by right-clicking on the program shortcut on the Desktop. No need for the full path. Just the executable file name including the .exe extension. Click on Ok, then Apply. Do this for the other programs you wish to block.
When others try to run the program, they’ll get the message “The application has been canceled due to restrictions in effect on this computer. Please contact your system administrator”. Most casual users won’t know what’s going on and will just give up.
If you need to use the apps, simply go back to the Group Policy Editor, and select the ‘Disabled’ option. If you want to reset/erase the locked apps list, select the ‘Not Configured’ option.
If you’re using Windows 10 Home, however, Group Policy Editor isn’t installed by default. You can enable it by running this batch file. Right-click on it and then choose Run as Administrator. Once the installation is done, restart your computer for the installation to take effect.
Method 3: Lock Apps in Windows Using Security Policy
This method will use Windows Local Security Policy to prevent other users from launching specific apps. Open the Local Security Policy App. You can find it by typing Local Security Policy on the Start Search Bar. Once open, expand the ‘Software Restriction Policies’ branch. Click on ‘Additional Rules’. If ‘Additional Rules’ isn’t available, right-click on ‘Software Restriction Policies’, and select ‘New Software Restriction Policies’. Right-click on ‘Additional Rules’ and select ‘New Hash Rule’.
Next, browse the location of the application folder that you want to lock. Unlike Secretfolder, you’ll need to select the application file itself. Select the app, then click on the Apply button. After doing this, users won’t be able to run the specified app. Repeat the process for other apps.
If you wish to be able to run the app later, head over to the ‘Additional rules’ folder and delete the restriction from the list. It’s not exactly convenient but it’s just as effective as using Group Policy.
Now you know How to Lock Specific Apps and Games in Windows 10 or 11. We hope this tutorial has been helpful to you. Please watch the video to learn the steps more easily.