Mobile App Permissions to See What Your Apps Are Allowed to Do

by JackieR | Hot and Mobile

Control your app permissions on Android 6.0 & up

When you install an app from Google Play on a device running Android 6.0 and up or on a Chromebook, you control which capabilities or information that app can access—known as permissions. For example, an app might want permission to see your device contacts or location. You can control which permissions an app can access after the app installs on your device.

Tip: To find which version of Android your device uses, open your device’s Settings app. Then, tap Systemand thenAbout phone or About tablet.

When you install an app

When you download apps from the Play Store, some apps will ask for permission to use information before you install. When you download apps that are built for Android 6.0 and up, you can allow or deny permissions once you start using them.

  1. Open the Play Store appGoogle Play.
  2. Go to an app’s detail page. To review permissions before installing, scroll to “Developer” and tap Permission details.
  3. Tap Install.
    • Some apps will install right away. When you use an app, you can allow or deny individual permission requests before the app uses that type of data.
    • For other apps, Google Play shows you all of the permission groups an app will be able to access before you install. This information can help you decide whether you want to install the app.

When apps are installed on your device

When an app installed on your device updates, there may be changes to the permissions for that app.

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Android App Permissions

Open up the Settings app and head to the Apps & notifications menu. Then, tap on the app you want to look at (if you can’t spot it, tap See all). Tap on Permissions to see everything the app has access to: A messaging app, for instance, might have access to SMS. To turn off a permission, tap on it. If the permission is particularly important to the app, you might have to tap a confirmation box.

A more comprehensive list of permissions can be found by tapping App permissions on the Apps & notifications screen. Here you can browse by permission—from microphone access to call logs—and switch off any you’re not comfortable with. As before, you’ll be warned if you’re disabling a permission that an app significantly relies on.

If you notice an app behaving strangely after you’ve removed a certain permission, or part of the app no longer works, you need to decide whether to allow the permission or live without that particular bit of functionality.

iOS App Permissions

As on Android, iOS apps request permissions as and when they need them, though you’ll usually see a flurry of requests—including one to show notifications—when you first install something new. You can revoke these permissions at any time.

From the Settings app, tap Privacy to see all the permissions available on your phone: access to photos, motion and fitness data, your phone’s location, and so on. Tap on any entry to see the apps granted those permissions and to disable those permissions, if necessary.

The exact choices vary depending on the permission. For location data, for example, you can grant access to an app all the time or only when the app is open. With Apple Health data, meanwhile, you can give an app access to certain bits of data, like the hours you’ve slept, but not others, like the steps you’ve walked.

Scroll down the Settings screen beyond the Privacy menu to find individual app entries. Tap on any app to access the same permissions as before, plus some extra ones—like access to notifications and permission to use cellular data as well as Wi-Fi. Again, a simple tap on an option or toggle switch is enough to grant or refuse a permission.

Windows App Permissions

As Windows 10 has evolved over time, it’s become more smartphone-like in the way it handles apps, and that includes the way it handles app permissions. Click the cog on the Start menu to open Settings, then pick Privacy to see what your installed apps are allowed to do on the OS.

The options are sorted by permission rather than by app, so click any of the entries on the left side to see apps with access: LocationCameraPictures, and so on. Each screen looks slightly different, but if you scroll down you’ll see a list of apps associated with that permission. You can grant or revoke them with a click on the relevant toggle switch.

With all of these permissions, you can turn off app access completely: For example, you might decide you don’t want any of your applications using your webcam. Note though that these screens cover apps installed only from the Windows Store and some apps bundled with Windows, like Mail and Cortana.

For full desktop apps with access to all your system resources, like Photoshop, there’s no easy way of controlling permissions; these apps may have some options available in their respective preferences boxes, but otherwise you’ll have to completely uninstall any that you aren’t happy with.

MacOS App Permissions

Finally to macOS, which has a simple and straightforward permissions management screen that closely resembles the one in iOS. To find it, open up the Apple menu, then choose System Preferences. From there, click Security & Privacy, then open the Privacy tab.

Here you can see all the permission categories, from location to app analytics. Click on any of the entries on the left side to see which apps have requested and been given permission. The screens look slightly different depending on which permission you’re dealing with, but they’re all straightforward.

To make changes to permissions, click the lock icon on the lower left, then enter your macOS username and password to confirm you have the authority to modify these settings. You can then untick the box next to any permission you’re not happy with. Note that the changes won’t be applied to open apps until they’re restarted.

As on Windows, desktop applications are of course more complex than their mobile counterparts, so you might find more permission and privacy options by delving into the programs themselves—most will have a preferences pane available.

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