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Learn to use the Google Play Store on an Android device

Learn everything about the Google Play Store here!
By
November 3, 2023

The Google Play Store gives you access to millions of apps and games you can download for Android devices. It also offers movies, books, and music, though, of course, not all of them are available in every country. All you need to get started is a Google account — you won’t be able to browse or download content if you don’t have one. Of course, you will also need an Android device. Once you have those ready, here’s how to use the Play Store on an Android device.

Although using the Play Store isn’t exactly rocket science, we want to explain a few basic things you should know. These include things like downloading content, adding a payment method, and redeeming a gift card.

How to find and download content in the Google Play Store

Google Play Store app on smartphone UI stock photo (1)
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

The search box is the place to start if you already know what you’re looking for. This can either be a specific app, or a category, like racing games. Tap the search box up top, type in a search query, and hit the search button to see the results.

You can also browse by category. Just tap on the Categories option while in the Play Store’s Apps section, and then choose whatever interests you.

A third option is to browse through content from the app’s home screen. That’s where you’ll find promoted, recommended, and popular ones, as well themed collections such as news or fitness.

Download apps and games

Once you find something you like, tap on it to bring up additional info. This includes a description, user ratings, screenshots, videos, and, of course, the Install button, or a buy button with a price in your currency if it costs something upfront.

  1. Search for content via the search box, categories, or home screen.
  2. Tap on the game or app you like to bring up additional info.
  3. Hit the Install/Buy button to download content to your device.
  4. Tap the Open button or the notification to access the downloaded content.

You can also get books and audiobooks

Of course, the Google Play Store isn’t only about finding apps and games. Google also has plenty of books and audiobooks. These can be found under the Books tab on the Google Play Store home screen.

The tap is further divided into categories such as Ebooks, Audiobooks, Comics, and Children’s books, and more, all accessed through a carousel menu.

  1. Search for content in the Books tab.
  2. Tap on the content you like to bring up additional info.
  3. Check out details and tap EbookAudiobook, or a similar button (often with a price attached) to purchase the content. You can use Free sample or Preview to get a taste first. If you’re sure of the purchase, you can just hit the Buy button.
  4. By the way, you will need the Google Play Books & Audiobooks app first. The Google Play Store will redirect you to install it, if you don’t have it yet.

Remember that, as always, some of the items on the Play Store are free, while you’ll have to pay for others. You’ll need to add a payment method to your Google account to buy content from the Play Store, which we’ll look at in the next section.

How to manage your Google Play Store payment methods

To buy an app, game, or any other piece of content via the Play Store, you need to add a credit or debit card to your account, or else use PayPal or a Google Play Store gift card. The process is simple and only takes a minute or two.

How to add a payment method

  1. Launch the Google Play Store app and tap on your profile icon in the top-right corner.
  2. Select Payments and subscriptions.
  3. Tap on Payment methods and follow the on-screen instructions.

Enable authentication for purchases

Although not mandatory, turning on authentication for purchases is probably wise. That means you’ll have to approve every purchase you make on the Play Store with your password, fingerprint, or some other method. This ensures that you won’t buy something by accident, and makes it harder for kids or thieves to rack up purchases.

  1. Hit the profile icon in the top-right corner and tap on Settings.
  2. Tap on Authentication.
  3. Choose Require authentication for purchases and select your preference.
  4. It’s also a good idea to enable the Biometric authentication toggle.

How to redeem a Google Play gift card

Another way to pay for Google Play Store content is, as we mentioned, using a gift card. To redeem a Google Play gift card, follow the same steps you’d take to add a payment method.

  1. Launch the Play Store app and tap on your profile picture.
  2. Tap on Payments and subscriptions.
  3. Select Redeem code.
  4. Type in the code found on your gift card, then hit Redeem.

How to update your apps and games using the Google Play Store

To ensure you get new features and bug fixes for the apps you already own, you have to update them.

Updating apps manually

  1. Launch the Play Store app tap your profile icon.
  2. Tap on Manage apps and device.
  3. Select Updates available.
  4. Tap on Update next to each app, or else use Update all to speed up the process.

Updating apps automatically

The alternative is for your device to update apps and games automatically, which is usually done while charging.

  1. Tap on your profile icon and select Settings.
  2. Tap on Network preferences.
  3. Select Auto-update apps and pick your preference.
  4. Tap on OK.

How to uninstall Google Play Store apps and games

Uninstalling the apps and games you no longer use is a breeze.

  1. Launch the Play Store app and tap on your profile icon.
  2. Select Manage apps & device.
  3. Tap on Manage.
  4. Check the app(s) you want to uninstall.
  5. Tap the trash can button to delete the selected apps.

FAQs

There can be various reasons why the Google Play Store may not be working, such as a poor internet connection, an outdated Play Store app, caching or data issues, or even a problem with your Google account. See our guide for some possible fixes.

The Play Store app is typically pre-installed on Android devices. If your device doesn’t have it or you accidentally uninstalled it, you can download and install the app by visiting the Play Store website and downloading the APK file. Before downloading, enable the “Unknown sources” option in your device’s settings to allow installation from sources other than the Play Store.

We don’t recommend uninstalling the Play Store app as it’s an essential part of the Android ecosystem. However, you can disable it if you don’t want to use it. To disable the app, go to your device’s settings, select Apps and notifications, find and select the Google Play Store app, and tap Disable.

The Google Play Store is the primary app store for Android devices. There are others, such as the Amazon Appstore, but they serve niche purposes.