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Learn to use the Google Play Store on an Android device
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. Once you have that ready, here’s how to use the Play Store on any 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
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 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. Tap on that 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.
- Search for content via the search box, categories, or home screen.
- Tap on the game or app you like to bring up additional info.
- Hit the Install/buy button to download content to your device.
- 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, all accessed through a carousel menu.
- Search for content in the Books tab.
- Tap on the content you like to bring up additional info.
- Check out details and tap Ebook, Audiobook, 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.
Keep in mind 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
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.
- Launch the Google Play Store app and tap on your profile icon in the top-right corner.
- Select Payments and subscriptions.
- 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.
To turn it on, hit your profile icon in the top-right corner, tap Settings, choose the Authentication submenu, hit the Require authentication for purchases, and select an option. Enabling Biometric authentication lets you use fingerprint or facial recognition.
- Hit the profile icon in the top-right corner and tap on Settings.
- Tap on Authentication.
- Choose Require authentication for purchases and select your preference.
- 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. Head to the Payments and subscriptions menu in your profile and tap Redeem code. Enter the card’s code and you’ll be ready to spend, so long as it hasn’t been used already.
The gift card’s value will be applied to your account and can be used for any purchases on the Play Store. You can check your Google Play balance at any time in the Payment methods menu.
- Launch the Play Store app and tap on your profile picture.
- Tap on Payments and subscriptions.
- Select Redeem code and type in the code found on your gift card.
How to update your apps and games using the Google Play Store
To ensure you get new features and bugfixes for the apps you already own, you have to update them.
Updating apps manually
Launch the Google Play Store app and tap on your profile icon. Select Manage apps and device option and tap on Updates available. Alternately you can choose Update all to update everything sight unseen, but you might want to be more selective if time and/or bandwidth is at a premium.
- Launch the Play Store app tap your profile icon.
- Tap on Manage apps and device.
- Select Updates available.
- 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. To enable this option, tap on your profile icon, then Settings, and select Network preferences. Hit Auto-update apps and pick your preference.
- Tap on your profile icon and select Settings.
- Tap on Network preferences.
- Select Auto-update apps and pick your preference.
How to uninstall Google Play Store apps and games
Uninstalling the apps and games you no longer use is a breeze. It works like the update function, meaning you’ll have to tap the profile icon and head to the Manage apps and device section. Once there, open the Manage tab and check off the apps you want to uninstall. Tap on the trashcan icon to delete the apps.
Remember that a few pre-installed apps can’t be deleted from your device, at least without root access. These apps are usually from Google (YouTube, Gmail…), a manufacturer, or your carrier.
- Launch the Play Store app and tap on your profile icon.
- Select Manage apps and device.
- Tap on Manage.
- Check the app(s) you want to uninstall.
- Tap the trashcan button to delete the selected apps.
There you have it — the basic functions of the Play Store. Have we missed anything you want covered? Let us know in the comments below.
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.