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Smartphones & gadgets

Tech fix: What to do when you can’t download apps to your Android phone

There are tons of apps we use every day. They can entertain us, help us to organize our schedules, keep track of important documents, support and play our favorite podcasts, music and other media and a ton of other stuff. Tap or click here for 14 apps you’ll use all the time.

Unfortunately, there are times when the apps you want to add to your Android won’t download. You may try and try but end up staring at the screen, waiting endlessly for the app to load on your device.

Complicating the issue is there are tons of reasons apps won’t download. Here are some steps you can take to troubleshoot the problem and download apps again on your Android.

1. Check that you have a strong Wi-Fi or mobile data connection

If you can’t download apps on your Android device, you should start by checking your connection. In some cases, this is the cause of downloading troubles. No Wi-Fi or mobile data connection equals no downloads because your phone or tablet won’t be able to communicate with the Google Play Store.

You may be able to resolve the issues by checking your data connection. This is applicable whether you’re using Wi-Fi or mobile data.

Signs of a bad connection include:

  • Downloads don’t start, time out or remain at 0%.
  • Google Play is stuck on “Loading…”
  • You can’t load web pages in a browser.

To check your Android mobile connection:

  1. Open your Settings app > Wireless and Networks or Connections > Mobile data or Cellular data. On some devices, you may need to select “Data usage” before you see this. 
  2. Turn mobile data on. If it’s already on, turn it off and on again.
  3. Check that there is a data indicator (for example, 2G, 3G, 4G) next to the signal strength bars at the top of the screen.
  4. Note that sometimes this will not display if you have an active Wi-Fi connection. If this is the case, turn Wi-Fi off and check back.

If you don’t see a signal data indicator, you may be in an area without coverage. If you can, move to a different area (for example, go outside) and recheck your signal.

To check your Wi-Fi connection:

  1. Open your Settings app > Wireless and Networks or Connections > tap Wi-Fi. Depending on your device, these options may be different. 
  2. Turn Wi-Fi on.
  3. Find the Wi-Fi connection indicator at the top of your screen.
  4. If this is not displayed, or none of the bars are filled in, you may be out of range of a Wi-Fi network.
  5. Move closer to the router, check to see if you have a stronger Wi-Fi connection, and try again.

2. Clear the Play Store’s cache and data

Clearing the app store’s cache and data might fix the problem. Most people don’t clear the Play Store’s cache and data regularly, but it’s worth a shot if you’re having trouble getting apps to download on your device.

Doing this can help give the Play Store a fresh start if it’s having trouble communicating with your device.

To clear the Play Store’s cache and data:

  1. Open your device’s Settings app
  2. Tap Apps & notifications > See all apps
  3. Scroll down and tap Google Play Store
  4. Tap Storage > Clear Cache
  5. Tap Clear data
  6. Re-open the Play Store and try your download again

Related: Malware spreading through 19 apps you need to delete right now

3. Force stop the app

If the above fixes don’t work, you may need to force stop the app. There may be an app glitch that’s causing issues with the downloads, and the only way to get it back on track is to force close it.

Force closing kills the process in which the activity runs and allows it to start anew with the right processes. If your downloads aren’t working, force closing the app store could reset it to allow downloads.

To force stop the app store:

  1. Open Settings > Apps & Notifications > See all apps
  2. Click the Google Play Store’s App Info page
  3. Click on Force Stop

4. Uninstall the Play Store’s updates — then reinstall

You also have the option to uninstall the Google Play updates and then reinstall them on your device. Don’t worry about this deleting or causing issues with the apps you’ve already downloaded; it won’t affect the apps that are on your device. It will, however, fix the download issues you’re having in some cases.

To uninstall and reinstall the updates for the Google Play Store:

  1. Make sure you’re connected to a reliable Wi-Fi connection.
  2. On your Android phone or tablet, open your Settings app.
  3. Tap Apps & notifications.
  4. Tap Google Play Store. If you don’t see it, tap See all apps or App info.
  5. At the top of the screen, tap More Uninstall updates.
  6. If you’re asked if you want to change the Play Store app back to the factory version, tap OK.
  7. Open the Google Play Store and then try your download again.

5. Remove your Google account from your device — then add it back

If the above fixes don’t resolve the issue, you may want to remove your Google account from your device. Once it’s removed, you’ll add it back and that may solve the problem.

First, remove your account:

  1. On your Android phone or tablet, open your Settings app.
  2. Tap Accounts.
  3. Tap the account you want to remove and then tap Remove account.
  4. If needed, enter your device’s pattern, PIN or password to finish removing the account.

Next, re-add the account:

  1. On your Android phone or tablet, open your Settings app.
  2. Tap Accounts > Add account > Google.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to add your account.
  4. Open the Google Play Store app.
  5. Tap Menu.
  6. Look for the name and email address of the account you’re using at the top of the screen.
  7. Tap the Down arrow on the account you want to use.
  8. Try your download again.

Related: The last bad batch of malware you need to delete from your Android

6. Restart your device

If you still can’t download apps after you clear the Play Store’s cache and data, you may have to restart your device. This can solve tons of glitches with your device, including issues with downloads. How you do this will depend on the device you’re using.

To restart your device:

  1. Press and hold the Power button until the menu pops up.
  2. Tap Power off or Restart if that is an option.
  3. If needed, press and hold the Power button until your device turns on again.
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