How to use Android Privacy Guard on CyanogenMod 11

cyanogenmod_logoPrivacy Guard is a built-in privacy management tool for use on CyanogenMod 11 (CM11), which aims to help you control the privacy and security of apps installed on your device. You can set preferences for each and every app installed. If you use the Xposed Framework then you might be familiar with the “App Settings” module, which does something similar. Both Privacy Guard and “App Settings” work very well. Learn more

Privacy Guard was originally updated into Android 4.3 App Ops. App Ops is a hidden app permission feature in Android 4.3 that was discovered in late August of last year (see link below). App Ops was going to allow users to disable app specific permissions after install. It was removed post Android 4.3 build. For further information about App Ops. Privacy Guard is now the “App Ops” of CM10 and CM11, so it looks like the CM guys may have used some of the code (without the source difficult to say 100%) from Google Android App Ops.

CyanogenMod have taken the lead and integrated App Ops so that users can individually switch on/off permissions for location, reading contacts and call logs, reading calendar and SMS/MMS permissions for each installed app. They also added a notifications feature (as well as a new ‘Advanced’ menu which allows quick access to the native App Ops user interface) which lets users know when they are using an app that has permissions blocked that it requires to run.

So if your app stops working, you can unblock each blocked permission to find the culprit. One nice feature is the quick reset button which in the event your Android device starts to play up you can disable Privacy Guard with just one click and return your device permissions back to default. Another cool feature which I believe will get some use from the mod community is the ability to pick and choose which apps start at device boot up. 🙂

The following assumes you have technical knowledge of using Mods and in particular CM11.

How to update your ROM and install Privacy Guard on CM11

  • Update your ROM – make sure you are running CM11 in order to use Privacy Guard
  • Go to > Settings > About phone > CyanogenMod Updates
  • Next go to > Settings > Privacy > Privacy Guard – you will see your apps listed – tap the shield to enable/disable an app*
  • Tick an option at the top of a list. Suggest you enable by default as this will stop ALL app permissions – giving you total control on what permissions your app are allowed to access
  • TIP: Don’t forget to check the > Settings menu for the option to reveal native apps 🙂
  • Usage stats – long press an app > options page will show detailed breakdown of each apps permissions. You can control these individually. More important for me is the app option that allows you to see the last time that permission was requested
  • Most if not all apps permissions will automatically be set to “Allowed”. You can control for example whether an app has access to your location data – if so you can set to “Denied”
  • Once you’ve done the above, you can go back to the main list of apps and tap > Advanced button in > Settings. You will now see a category view which is useful to look through groups of apps with similar problems
  • Be aware of Auto-Start permission requests in “Bootup”. These are apps that will use your battery and monitor Wake up  – useful to keep an eye on!
  • Lastly, go to > Settings in App ops and make sure you tick > Show user apps & Show built-in apps. This will allow you to reset the allow/deny counters of each app if you are experiencing problems or want more control i.e. “Always ask”.

My tip with app permission control is to be cautious. I like to use “Always ask” which means I get to see what permissions an app is requesting. I can then decide which permissions to deny as I am using each app. This allows me to quickly identify if the app that has crashed is one I denied a permission request too. Another useful tip is if you don’t want apps tracking you, then deny the “Location” permission for all apps.

If you find you have lost control of what app permissions you have set, you can > Settings > RESET all your apps to default settings. 🙂

Further information on Privacy Guard you should read these recent posts:

Safe surfing folks!


*WARNING: I suggest you don’t do this as standard practice as you might corrupt an app or worse, soft brick your device.

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26 Responses to How to use Android Privacy Guard on CyanogenMod 11

  1. Alessandro says:

    Hi Julian, thank you for this presentation of privacy guard.
    I’m very frustrating with it because I can’t deeply understand what auto-start really means and how to manage it, I hope you can help me.
    I have many applications listed in bootup menù, you say that all these applications start when I switch on my android device, is it true?
    The point is that ALL my applications in the bootup menù have their autostart set to “never” (or something like that, I don’t have the phone here now). How is it possible? They are there!
    Anyway, when I set autostart=denied and reboot the device I can see that nothing happens: again, they are all in the bootup menù, they all have autostarts=never.
    Other privacy guard options seem to work fine.
    I use CM 11 M7 on galaxy S3.
    Thank you for your attention,

    • Julian says:

      #Alessandro# Change to “Always Ask” reboot and then revert to “Never”. Cannot replicate your problem. Report back your outcome.

  2. Rishabh Jain says:

    I accidentally deleted my settings app after locking it in folder. Now its gone ..can you help me retire settings app.

    • Julian says:

      #Rishabh Jain# If you use Google+ the Google Settings app should attempt to reinstall if deleted even on rooted devices. If you don’t have the Google+ app, then you should install it and the Google Settings app will also be installed.

    • Bart L says:

      Hello Rishabh,
      I had the same problem. To get your settings app back, go to trebuchet settings, scroll all the way down to protected apps, now press menu and click reset. After you’ve done that, it’s good to reboot your phone and you’re done 🙂

      Greetings Bart L.

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  4. Andreas says:

    Hi Julian,

    meanwhile Google Play Services made the Cyanogenmod privacy setting useless.

    Any app can mask it’s access to your location, contacts, microphone etc. by using the Google Play Service.

    It’s all or nothing again.

    Try setting the Google Play Services access to “ask each time” and be surprised how many apps that don’t need your location, contacts.. try to spy on you.


  5. aravind says:

    How can i recover my password . I forgot my security answer

  6. kushal choudhary says:

    I forgot both of the password of my security guard and even the answer to the question.. 🙁
    How can I recover it now
    *the app isn’t being uninstalled as well

  7. ved says:

    Hi Julian,

    :Problem in privacy guard in yu yureka (CM12)

    I have tried to change several time to change app permission level allowed from always ask in app frontline commando in privacy guard,but permission level can’t save on level allowed.due to this above app always being failed in opening process.
    I have tried also to change permission level in Google play settings,but same problem is in this app also.
    I have tried also resetting the app permission in settings>apps>reset app preferences..
    And factory reset also.
    I have installed CM 12 OTA update.
    Please help me.regards.


  8. IsabelleChong says:

    I do not know how to use it to lock my phone. I want to use the cute zip to lock it. May I ask what should I do.

  9. gaurav says:

    my lenovo k3 note privacy guard not locking apps pls tell me

  10. R. Binstead says:

    I love privacy guard, but it has an annoying notifications that it’s working that I can’t get rid of unless I open it, then scroll all the way down to the bottom of the app settings, then back out. Can it work without annoying notifications? Thank you

  11. A. agarwal says:

    iforgot my password in LEO privacy guard apps. and also forgot the answer to the secret question.

    how can i recover my password? need help

  12. Veronica Valderrama says:

    I set my photos to hidden and now I can’t find them please tell me how incan retrieve them.. My pictures are everything to me

    • Julian says:

      #Veronica Valderrama# Did you manually hide your photos by using either of the following:

      .(DOT)filename or .(DOT)folder name

      If you did, the ES File Explorer App (download from Google Play) will show you your hidden folders/files by default. Note: Displaying hidden folders/files does not work with CM File Manager.

  13. keysang says:

    I protected my game in app security folder and accidentely clicked cross button,and now I am not able to find my app unless opened by Google now or voice dialer

  14. Agnesy says:

    Please, I mistakenly put my “Guarded Mode” ‘ON’ to hide my messages, call logs and gallery through my Techno F5 phone but I can’t put it off anymore cos it’s asking for password. please help me

  15. Marshal says:

    I hid my pics and video but can’t access them. Whay do i do?

  16. mRtin says:

    blocking access to contacts and location is fine but quite easy for the app to see. and revenge by crashing or complaining.
    Do anyone know of a way to mislead the spy apps, by saying yes you can access my contact list but then deliver an empty list or a phony one with mark suckerberg and friends. hiding my real contacts. the same for location allowing acces but delivering random location. Aso.

  17. m.rizwan says:

    I lose my privacy gard pasward.
    End also lose my hint for chang pasward.
    What I do now…????
    Plzzz help me.
    I pay you money for this.

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