Google Play Store front page - best Android apps

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.

How to use the Google Play store:

Find and download content

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 home screen, and then choose whatever you’re interested in.

A third option is to browse through content right 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.

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.

Step-by-step-instructions:

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

Manage your payment methods

LG Pay Google Play Store page

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. The process is simple and only takes a minute or two.

The first step is to launch the Play Store app and tap on your profile 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 Play Store app and open your profile from the top right.
  2. Tap on Payments & subscriptions.
  3. Tap on Payment methods and follow on-screen instructions.

Although not mandatory, it’s a good idea 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 make sure you won’t buy something by accident.

To turn it on, open the side menu, tap on Settings, choose the Authentication submenu, and select one option. Enabling the Biometric authentication option is also a good idea.

Step-by-step-instructions:

  1. Bring up the menu from the side and tap on Settings.
  2. Tap on Authentication.
  3. Select the Biometric authentication option.

Update your apps and games

Play Store Auto Update Apps

To try out the latest features developers have added to their apps and games, you have to update them via the Play Store — although you can do this through your device’s Settings menu as well. To do so, launch the Google Play Store app and bring up the settings menu by tapping on your profile picture. Then select the Manage apps & device option, which will show you a list of updates available as well as harmful apps. You can update all of your apps at once or choose each update individually.

Step-by-step-instructions:

  1. Launch the Play Store app and bring up the settings menu with your profile picture.
  2. Tap on Manage apps & device.
  3. Tap on Update next to each app or select Update all to speed up the process.

The alternative is for your device to update apps and games automatically, which is normally done while charging. To enable this option, select Settings from the side menu and tap Network preferences.

Step-by-step-instructions:

  1. Bring up the menu from the side and tap on Settings.
  2. Tap on Network preferences.
  3. Toggle Auto-update apps to On.

Uninstall your 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 head back to the Manage apps & device tab. Once there, open the Manage section and locate the apps you want to uninstall. You can either go one at a time or use the checkbox on the right side to delete multiple apps at once.

See also: Android OS problems and how to fix them

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 bring up the Manage apps & device menu from the side.
  2. Tap on Manage.
  3. Choose the app or apps you want to uninstall.
  4. Press the Uninstall button for a single app or the trashcan icon for multiple apps.

Redeem a Google Play gift card

Picture of the redesigned Google Play Store on a Google Pixel 3 XL.

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.

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.

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.