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How to download, manage, and update apps on the Google Play Store

Smartphones have come a long way in the past few years, but it all really comes down to which apps you have installed. Some apps come installed out of the box, but many of the most useful apps need to be downloaded from the Google Play Store. Not to mention all of the free and paid games available.

The first thing you need to do is sign into your Google account, or create a Google account from scratch if you don’t have one yet. We’ve already put together a guide to doing this, so check out the link below if you need help with that.

More: How to set up a new Google account on your Android device

The Google Play Store isn’t difficult to use, but it can be confusing at first glance. To help you get started, we put together this guide full of Google Play Store tips to help with downloading, updating, uninstalling, and managing your apps on Android and selected Chrome OS devices.

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How to browse apps and games on the Google Play Store

If you’re new to the Google Play Store, you might have no idea where to start. Fortunately, you can browse apps and games by category. Just follow the simple steps below and start browsing the millions of apps and games at your disposal.

  1. Tap the Play Store icon on your home screen.
  2. Tap Top Charts toward the top of the screen to see the most popular apps and games.
  3. Tap Categories to browse apps by categories, such as dating, photography, or weather.
  4. Tap Editor’s Choice to see some great apps curated by Google.

This will display both games and apps. If you want to browse just games, select Games at the top and follow the same instructions. Note that the categories change to game genres, such as racing games, sports games, strategy games, and more.

Of course, the best way to find great apps and games is to browse any of our hundreds of best lists or our Apps Weekly series. Check out the links below for a few ideas!


How to find an app or game on the Google Play Store

If you have a specific app you want to search for on the Google Play Store, just follow the simple steps below.

  1. Tap the Play Store icon on your home screen.
  2. Tap the text field at the top of the screen.
  3. Enter the name of the app or game.
  4. If the app or game appears in the list, tap on its name to open its page.
  5. Otherwise, tap search and look through the results.

How to install free apps and games from the Google Play Store

Once you’ve found the app you want to download, installing it on your device is quick and simple. However, the exact steps depend on whether or not it’s a paid app or a free app. Here’s how to install free apps and games on Android.

  1. Find the app or game using one of the methods above.
  2. Tap Install and wait for the download to finish.
  3. Tap Open or tap on the app icon to launch the app.

How to install paid apps and games from the Google Play Store

  1. Find the app or game using one of the methods above.
  2. Tap the button with the cost listed.
  3. Select a payment method. For more details on setting up payment methods see below.
  4. Tap 1-tap buy.
  5. Verify your identity via your fingerprint scanner or password.

The app will immediately begin installing, and you will receive an email receipt shortly. If you aren’t happy with your purchase, check out our guide to refunding apps on the Google Play Store.


How to add a payment method to the Google Play Store

Depending on where you live in the world, you will have different payment options available to you. They are all found in the same place in the Google Play Store. Here’s how to add a payment method on Android.

  1. Tap the Play Store icon on your home screen.
  2. Open the menu by tapping the hamburger icon in the top left.
  3. Tap Payment methods.
  4. Select the payment type you want to set up and follow on-screen instructions.

Regardless of your payment type, you will receive a receipt via email each time you make a purchase. You can also see your purchase history under Account in the same menu as above.


How to redeem a Google Play Store gift card

Google Play Store gift cards can be used for much more than just apps and games. There are also thousands of movies and albums available for purchase. The great thing about using a Google Play Store gift card is that you don’t need to set up a debit or credit card, and you can make sure to limit your spending. This makes it an ideal option for children (and impulse shoppers).

After buying or receiving a Google Play Store gift card, you need to redeem it before you can spend it on the Play Store. Here’s how to redeem a Google Play Store gift card.

  1. Tap the Play Store icon on your home screen.
  2. Open the menu by tapping the hamburger icon in the top left.
  3. Tap Payment methods.
  4. Tap Redeem code under Add payment method.
  5. Enter the code on your Google Play Store gift card.
  6. Tap Redeem.

After a few moments, your Google Play balance should update with your newly added money. Now you’re ready to install some of the best premium apps on Android!


How to update apps and games on the Google Play Store

If you want to take advantage of the latest that your apps have to offer, you need to keep them updated. In fact, many apps require you to have the latest version installed to work at all. Here’s how to update games and apps on the Google Play Store.

  1. Tap the Play Store icon on your home screen.
  2. Open the menu by tapping the hamburger icon in the top left.
  3. Tap My apps & games.
  4. Tap Update next to each app or select Update all to speed up the process.

If you really don’t like an update and want to go back to a previous version, there are ways to install older versions of an app with a Google Play Store alternative.


How to turn on auto-update for apps and games on the Google Play Store

Manually updating apps can be tiresome, and most of us always want the latest version when it’s available. Fortunately, Android has a built-in auto-update feature that has you covered. Here’s how to turn on or off auto-update for apps and games on the Google Play Store.

  1. Tap the Play Store icon on your home screen.
  2. Open the menu by tapping the hamburger icon in the top left.
  3. Tap Settings.
  4. Tap Auto-update apps.
  5. Select one of the options available.

We recommend only enabling auto-update on Wi-Fi, otherwise you might go over your monthly data cap. Most of the time there’s no rush to install updates anyway!

The steps change the auto-update settings for all apps, but you can also change the settings for each individual app. Here’s how to change auto-update settings for an individual app.

  1. Tap the Play Store icon on your home screen.
  2. Open the menu by tapping the hamburger icon in the top left.
  3. Tap My apps & games.
  4. Tap Installed.
  5. Select the app or game to change.
  6. Tap the three dots in the top right.
  7. Toggle Enable auto update on or off.

How to uninstall apps and games from the Google Play Store

When certain apps overstay their usefulness, you may want to uninstall them from your device to free up storage space. However, note that not all apps can be uninstalled without rooting your Android device.

There are two ways to do this, and both are very simple. First we’ll cover how to uninstall apps via the Google Play Store.

  1. Tap the Play Store icon on your home screen.
  2. Open the menu by tapping the hamburger icon in the top left.
  3. Tap My apps & games.
  4. Tap Installed.
  5. Select the app or game you want uninstall.
  6. Tap Uninstall.
  7. Confirm uninstallation.

How to uninstall apps and games from the Android home screen

Uninstall app Android home screen

The other way to uninstall apps doesn’t require opening the Google Play Store. Here’s how to uninstall apps via the home screen.

  1. Press and hold on the icon of the app you want to uninstall.
  2. Drag the icon without releasing to reveal new options.
  3. Drag the icon onto Uninstall at the top right.
  4. Confirm uninstallation.

Again, remember that not all apps can be uninstalled. Which apps can be uninstalled depends on the company that made your Android device.


How to remove apps from your app library on the Google Play Store

Even after you uninstall an app, it will appear in your app library on the Google Play Store. This makes it easier to find when you want to reinstall it after getting a new device or just changing your mind. However, there are some apps that you will never want to reinstall or are embarrassing to have associated with your account. Follow these steps to remove apps from your app library on the Google Play Store.

  1. Tap the Play Store icon on your home screen.
  2. Open the menu by tapping the hamburger icon in the top left.
  3. Tap My apps & games.
  4. Tap Library.
  5. Tap the X icon next to the app to remove.
  6. Confirm removal.

You can still reinstall apps by searching for them again in the Google Play Store if you change your mind.


That’s all for our guide to downloading and managing apps in the Google Play Store. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

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