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Learn to use the Google Play Store on an Android device

Learn everything about the Google Play Store here!
By
May 1, 2022
Google Play Store on smartphone stock photo 1
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

The Google Play Store gives you access to millions of apps and games you can download to your Android device. It also offers movies, books, and music, although 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. Once you have that set up, here’s how to use the Play Store on any Android device.

See also: Our beginner’s guide to the Google Play Store

Although using it isn’t exactly rocket science, we want to do what we can to explain a few basic things you should know. These include downloading content, adding a payment method, redeeming a gift card, and much more.

Find and download content in the Google Play Store

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

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

A third option is to browse through content from the app’s home screen. That’s where you’ll find things like apps and games recommended for you based on your recent activity, new and updated apps, top-rated games, and much more.

Download apps and games

Once you find something you like, tap on it to bring up additional info. This includes the description of the item, the app rating, screenshots, videos, and, of course, the Install button. Tap on it and wait for the device to do its magic. When completed, you’ll get a notification that the content has been downloaded to your device and can be used — tap the notification or the Open button.

Step-by-step-instructions:

  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 button to download content to your device.
  4. Tap the Open button or the notification to access the downloaded content.

Also: Here are the best apps you can download

You can also get movies, shows, books, and audiobooks

Of course, the Google Play Store isn’t only about finding apps and games. Google also has plenty of movies, TV shows, books, and even audiobooks. These can be found under the Movies & TV and Books tabs from the Google Play Store home screen.

Go into those sections and find the content you want to rent or buy. Access the content page and take a look at all the details. You can rent or purchase movies and series. In the case of books, you can usually either buy the content or get a free sample first.

Step-by-step-instructions:

  1. Search for content in the Movies & TV and Books tabs.
  2. Tap on the content you like to bring up additional info.
  3. Check out the details and tap on the Rent, Buy, Free sample, or Preview buttons to consume the content.

Keep in mind that 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.

More: The best movie apps for Android

Manage your payment methods

Money Stock Photo 1
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

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

How to add a payment method

The first step is to launch the Play Store app and tap on your profile icon in the top-right corner. Then select Payments & subscriptions, and tap on Payment methods. The last step is to follow on-screen instructions by entering the required details.

Step-by-step-instructions:

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

Enable authentication for purchases

Although not mandatory, it’s good to turn on the authentication option for purchases. That means you’ll have to approve every purchase you make on the Play Store with your password or fingerprint. This is a safety feature that will ensure you won’t buy something by accident.

To turn it on, hit the profile icon in the top-right corner, tap on Settings, choose the Authentication submenu, hit the Require Authentication for purchases, and select one option. Enabling the Biometric authentication option is also a good idea.

Step-by-step-instructions:

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

How to redeem a Google Play gift card

Another great way to pay for Google Play Store content is using a gift card. To redeem a Google Play gift card, follow the same steps as you would take to add a payment method. Head to the Payments & subscriptions menu and locate the fourth option on the list. It should read Redeem gift code. Type in your code and get ready to spend that money.

See also: Need a VERY last-minute present? You can get these digital gifts right now

The gift card amount will be applied to your account and can be used for purchases on the Play Store. You can check your balance at any time in the Payment methods section. It’s under the Google Play balance.

Step-by-step-instructions:

  1. Launch the Play Store app and bring up the settings menu with your profile picture.
  2. Tap on Payments & subscriptions.
  3. Select Redeem gift code and type in your code.

Update your apps and games using the Google Play Store

Play Store Auto Update Apps

Updating apps manually

To try out the latest features developers have added to their apps and games, you must update them via the Play Store. To do so, launch the Google Play Store app and tap on your profile icon. Then select the Manage apps & device option and tap on Updates available. You can choose to Update all of your apps at once or choose Update individually.

Step-by-step-instructions:

  1. Launch the Play Store app and bring up the settings menu with your profile icon.
  2. Tap on Manage apps & device.
  3. Select Updates available.
  4. Tap on Update next to each app or select 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. To enable this option, tap on your profile icon, select Settings, and select Network preferences. Hit Auto-update apps and pick your preference.

Step-by-step-instructions:

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

Uninstall your Google Play Store apps and games

Twitter for Android Play Store Updates

Uninstalling the apps and games you no longer use is a breeze. It works just like the update function, which means that you’ll have to tap on the profile icon and head to the Manage apps & device tab. Once there, open the Manage section and select the apps you want to uninstall. Tap on the trashcan icon to delete the apps.

More: Other ways to delete Android apps

Keep in mind that a few pre-installed apps cannot be deleted from the device — unless you have root access. These apps are normally from Google (YouTube, Gmail…), the manufacturer, or your carrier.

Step-by-step-instructions:

  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 or apps you want to uninstall.
  5. Press the trash button to delete the selected apps.

There you have it — these are some of the basic functions of the Play Store you should know about. Have we missed any major ones? Let us know which in the comments below.