Keeping track of all our apps is almost impossible, especially when switching devices or performing a factory reset. Google makes it pretty painless to re-install all your apps on a new or reset device, but if you’re looking for a specific app that you may no longer remember the name of, things get a little complicated. Here’s how to find old purchased apps on the Google Play Store!

Finding old apps

Before looking at purchased apps specifically, let’s take a quick look at how Google keeps a track of your old apps for you. This method for finding apps isn’t actually particularly helpful when finding purchased apps unless you already know what you’re looking for.

  • Open the Google Play Store app.
  • Open the hamburger menu by tapping on the three horizontal lines at the top left corner.
  • Tap on My Apps & Games.

The apps currently installed on your phone are found under the aptly named Installed tab. The Library lists all the apps you’ve ever installed on your Android devices past and present but aren’t on your phone anymore. The sorting options in the Library tab only include Recent and Alphabetical, while the Installed Tab adds Last Updated, Last Used, and Size.

Notably absent is any way to distinguish between free and purchased apps in both these sections. You’re also out luck if you don’t know the name of what you’re looking for (and then you can just search for it).

Finding purchased apps

Finding purchased apps, in particular, requires a few extra steps.

  • Open the Google Play Store
  • Open the hamburger menu by tapping on the three horizontal lines at the top left corner.
  • Scroll down and tap on Account.
  • The tap on Order History.

Order History is where you will find a list of any and all purchases you’ve made via Google Play. Unfortunately, this list also includes books, movies, TV shows, songs, and albums you may have bought via Google Play, and all the in-app purchases you’ve ever made too.

Depending on your order history, it may take a lot of scrolling, but you should be able to find all the purchased apps you were looking for. There might be some surprises in there as well.

I had the OG Moto 360 smartwatch in 2015 and had bought a few watch faces back then. I didn’t keep the watch for long, and when I switched smartphones after that, I didn’t re-install any of those apps again. I got the Huawei Watch 2 last year but completely forgot about those watch faces. When I was looking at my order history, I was able to download and use them again.

The web app does it (slightly) better

how to find old purchased apps - Google Play Store website

You can find out order history by using the web app as well. Go to play.google.com on a web browser on your PC or Android device and basically follow the same steps listed above. Go to Account and open Order History to see all your purchases. The web app does it slightly better than the smartphone app because the Order History section has a sort function based on Categories.

Using this, you can filter and sort your purchases based on Android apps, Movies, Music, Books, Newsstand, and Devices, which makes it a tad easier to find what you’re looking for. If you’re like me, the bulk of your orders are apps and in-app purchases (which also show up under the Android apps category), which means finding an old purchased app is still annoying.

There’s an app for it

If you’ve ever grumbled about a missing software feature on your smartphone, you might have heard the phrase “There’s probably an app for it” in response. If you are looking for old purchased apps, there actually is an app for that. You can download the “Purchased Apps” app from the Google Play Store here.

Open the app, tap on your Google account, and your entire order history will show up. Opening the hamburger menu by tapping on the three horizontal lines at the top left corner shows you the different categories of purchased apps, as well as the total number of purchases and the amount you’ve spent. Just more information that isn’t directly available from the Google Play Store.

Where the app also has a leg up on the Google Play Store is when it comes to the filters available. Tap on the three vertical dots at the top right corner of the app and tap on Filter. Here you will see options based on Installation Status (All, Installed only, or Uninstalled only) and Purchase Type (All, In-App only, No In-App). Select No In-App and you will now be able to see a list of all of just your purchased apps.

Why is this still a thing?

how to find old purchased apps - Play Store photo

From its days as the Android Market, to the launch of the Google Play Store, the app store has seen a lot of changes, upgrades, and re-designs. So why is it still so complicated to simply find a list of apps you’ve purchased?

The My Apps & Games section is practically useless in this regard. You can find what you need in the Order History, but there’s no way to sort or filter the list to narrow it down. The web app has a filter, but may not be of much help. It’s a third-party app that manages to do the best job. You don’t have to navigate to a hidden section to see your entire order history. The perfect filter options make it far less tedious to scroll through. Google should have been able to implement something similar by now, and it will hopefully do so soon.