Many apps such as Facebook and Instagram simply request access to all "photos and videos". Presumably this is so they can show you their own gallery to choose from when posting them online. The risk that these particular apps have access to everything, not just the photos you choose, is probably low (but wouldn't be that surprised if they're scraped for ads).

Ideally, Android could offer a barrier so I could share only the photos I want with each app. E.g. I was hoping I could use a separate app to find the photos I wanted and share them to the Facebook app. Unfortunately when sharing, Android still requests permission for the app to have access to everything. Better yet, Android could offer an API to show a gallery but the app can't read the image contents until the user has chosen it.

Is there a workaround to limit photos and videos access that apps get?


1 Answer 1


Android photo picker recently introduced with Android 13 addresses this concern.

This feature was initially available in devices with Android 11+, since it is rolled out as a Play Store update. With the November system updates, the good news is that this feature is available all the way back up to Android 4.4. The rollout is slow because:

  • Apps need to be updated to include this feature ( needs to be compiled against API level 33, corresponding to Android 13).

  • It needs server-side updates from Google. Few popular apps have been updated and I see this feature on Twitter and Chrome (screenshot below)

A useful summary of Photo Picker:

Excerpts from a blog How Google is backporting Android 13’s Photo Picker

  • Many apps that need to access photos or videos don’t need persistent access to them or access to other types of files. Your favorite social media app, for example, shouldn’t need to access every single photo or video stored on your device at any time they want. Instead, apps like these should only access photos or videos explicitly chosen by the user, and only when they’re actually going to do something with them (like composing a new tweet).
  • The app then has temporary, read-only access to those files. When the app’s process ends, it loses access to those files
  • ... users can quickly share media files between apps, and they can do so without having to worry about granting access to their entire photo and video library in the process.
  • For app developers, meanwhile, the feature reduces friction by removing the need to request any permissions

(Emphasis supplied)

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