Whether this is your first smartphone or just your first using Android, there's a lot to love here, and it all starts with finding some apps to fill that new phone (or tablet) with. Google Play is the app store that Google runs, and it's also an important piece of Android's security as it scans apps before and after they're downloaded and monitors them for unusual activity. It can be a bit overwhelming when you first open up Google Play, but don't worry, we're here to help you get started!

How to search for apps on Google Play

If you already know the name of the app you're looking for, or have a specific app type in mind, you can search for it rather than browsing through app categories.

  1. Tap the Google Play icon on your home screen.
  2. Tap the white search bar at the top of the screen.

Google search Google Play

  1. Enter the name of the app (or type of app) you're looking for.
  2. Tap the search icon on your keyboard (should be in the location of the Enter key).

There it is

If you're not quite as sure what you want, or your search results don't help you (don't worry, it happens to all of us), there are other ways to find apps on Google Play.

How to browse apps in Google Play

You can browse through Google Play's Top Charts to try and find a new app you want to install.

  1. Tap the Google Play icon on your home screen.
  2. Tap Apps & games to ensure you're on the app side of the store.
  3. Below Apps & games, tap Top Charts.

Find the popular apps

You're now ready to browse the charts for new apps. Swipe left and right between the charts for Top Free, Top Paid, Top Grossing, Top New Free, Top New Paid, and Trending.

You can also browse through Google Play by category:

  1. Tap the Google Play icon on your home screen.
  2. Tap Apps & games to ensure you're on the app side of the store.
  3. Below Apps & games, tap Categories.
  4. Tap the category you'd like to browse.

Category browsing

Now, some app categories are just a series of Top Charts narrowed to that category of app, but other categories have featured apps and subcategories in addition to the Top Charts for that category.

Once you've found one you like, it's time to install it.

How to download free apps

  1. Tap on an app in the search results or categories.
  2. Read through the app's description and reviews to ensure the app seems right for you.
  3. Tap Install.

Read before installing

The app will now download and install itself, usually in a few seconds depending on how large or small the app is. If you're on a device running an older version of Android, you'll have to agree to an app's permissions before it downloads. Read the permissions before clicking Agree. Once it is finished installing, an Open button will appear in the same place the Install button previously occupied.

How to buy paid apps

The process for buying a paid app is just a hair different than downloading a free one, and it goes like this:

  1. Tap on an app in the search results or categories.
  2. Tap the price to bring up the payment options.
  3. Your default payment method will be shown. If you want to change your payment method, tap the down arrow next to your current payment method.

    Buy an app

  4. Tap Payment methods.
  5. Tap one of your established payment methods. If you don't have one, you'll be prompted to add a credit card, PayPal account, or carrier billing.
  6. Tap Buy.

    Pick your payment

  7. Confirm your Google Play password.
  8. The payment is processed and the download will begin. Tap Continue to close the window.

Confirm your password

How to update apps

Apps need updates from time to time, and if you need to manually update your apps, here's how you do it.

  1. Tap the Google Play icon on your home screen.
  2. Swipe in from the left edge of the screen OR tap the three line menu icon in the top white bar to open the menu.
  3. Tap My apps & games.
  4. App needing updates will appear at the top of the list. Tap Update All to update all the apps needing updates.

All about those updates

If you want to update a single app rather than all of them, you can do that, too. Follow the same steps above, but instead of tapping Update All:

  1. Tap the app you want to update.
  2. Tap Update.
  3. If there are any new permissions, read them over before tapping Accept.

How to toggle auto-update

Rather than manually updating apps, which is easy to forget, Google Play is set to automatically update apps for you when you're on Wi-Fi. If you'd prefer that it install updates automatically even when on cellular data — or not auto-update at all — you can change the setting easily.

  1. Tap the Google Play icon on your home screen.
  2. Swipe in from the left edge of the screen OR tap the three line menu icon in the top white bar to open the menu.
  3. Swipe up to scroll down.

    Into Settings

  4. Tap Settings.
  5. Tap Auto-update apps.
  6. To turn off auto-update, select Do no auto-update apps. To enable auto-update on cellular data, select Auto-update at any time.

Pick the update schedule that works for you

If there are apps you do not want auto-updated, you can opt them out of auto-update while allowing your other apps to stay updated.

  1. Swipe in from the left edge of the screen OR tap the three line menu icon in the top white bar to open the menu.
  2. Scroll down and tap My apps & games.
  3. Scroll down and tap the app you don't want auto-updating.

    Into the update settings

  4. Tap the three dot menu icon in the top right corner of the screen (next to the search icon).
  5. Tap to uncheck Auto-update.

Toggle it off

How to uninstall apps

  1. Tap the Google Play icon on your home screen.
  2. Swipe in from the left edge of the screen OR tap the three line menu icon in the top white bar to open the menu.
  3. Tap My apps & games.

    Find the app to uninstall

  4. Scroll down and tap the app you want to uninstall.
  5. Tap Uninstall. Note: if this is a paid app and it's still within the refund window, you will tap Refund instead.
  6. A window will open confirming you want to uninstall the app. Tap OK.

Uninstall the app

The app will now uninstall and remove itself from the device.

How to remove apps from your app history

If you install an app, don't like it, and uninstall it, it's still attached to your app history in the All section of My apps & games. If you don't want an app in that list anymore, here's how you get rid of it.

  1. Swipe in from the left edge of the Google Play store screen OR tap the three line menu icon in the top white bar to open the menu.
  2. Tap My apps & games.
  3. Tap All in the green bar.

    Let's clean house

  4. Scroll down and find the app you want to remove.
  5. Tap the X in the top right corner of the listing for the app.
  6. The app will disappear.

Remove unwanted apps.

Your turn!

What do you love about the Google Play Store?