The Best Google Play Store Tips and Tricks for Android Users
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For many, the Google Play Store is just an app marketplace: You see an app you like, you tap Install, and you go on with your day. But the Play Store has a bunch of lesser-known features and secrets that can kick your enjoyment of Android up several notches.

Don’t know the first thing about the Play Store? Then check out our introduction to downloading Android apps Downloading Apps on Android: Everything You Need to Know Downloading Apps on Android: Everything You Need to Know Looking to download apps for your Android phone or tablet? This is everything you need to know about the official app store for Android: Google Play. Read More . Once you’re comfortable with that, here are several tips and tricks that will make app management much easier on Android devices.

1. Test and Refund Apps

Did you know that you can get refunds for paid apps in the Play Store? Google is pretty lenient regarding what you can refund and reasons for claiming a refund, and the process is fast and straightforward. And yes, you can return an app if you “later decided you didn’t want it.” Learn more in our article on Google Play Store refunds How to Get a Refund From the Google Play Store How to Get a Refund From the Google Play Store Bought an app from the Google Play Store and don't want it anymore? This is how to get your refund. Read More .

For paid apps and games, you have two hours after your purchase to request a refund (or 48 hours if you make your refund request on the web instead of through the Play Store app). The only exception is for unauthorized purchases, which have a limit of 65 days.

2. Search Apps by Developer

The Best Google Play Store Tips and Tricks for Android Users android play store search developers

When searching for apps in the Play Store, you can use the pub:[developer’s name] modifier to filter the search results and only show apps whose developers match that query. This is great when you really like a certain app and want to see what else the developers have made, or if you know who made an app but forget what it was called.

3. Unlock Early Access and Beta Apps

The Best Google Play Store Tips and Tricks for Android Users android google play early access beta

Sometimes you’ll hear of an upcoming app that’s generating a lot of buzz but hasn’t been released to the public yet. You can check if it’s available as an “early access” app What Is Early Access and Beta on Google Play? What Is Early Access and Beta on Google Play? Google Play Store supports both "early access" and "beta" apps -- but what do these means, and should you try them? Read More , and if it is, you may be able to try it out ahead of time. Beware that early access apps are often buggy, glitchy, poorly optimized, and prone to crashes.

The Play Store also allows developers to offer separate beta versions of already-released apps. These beta apps often have more features and other improvements, but may not be quite ready for public release due to crashes, bugs, glitches, etc. Learn more in our article on beta Android apps How to Get New Features in Android Apps Before Anyone Else How to Get New Features in Android Apps Before Anyone Else Want to beta test new versions of your favorite apps before they're officially released? It's now easier than ever. Read More .

4. View Only Relevant App Reviews

The Best Google Play Store Tips and Tricks for Android Users android play store relevant reviews

Have you ever downloaded a well-reviewed app only for it to be buggy on your device? Or maybe previous versions of the app were great, but the latest version introduced some big changes that worsened the experience? Yes, an app’s reviews can sometimes be misleading.

Fortunately, you can filter reviews and only see the ones that are relevant to you right now. Go to the app’s page in the Play Store app, scroll down to the reviews, tap Read All Reviews, tap Options on the right, then toggle “Latest version only.” You can also enable “From this device model only,” but the older your device, the less useful this option will be.

5. Install Region-Blocked Apps

This tip resides in a morally gray area, so feel free to skip ahead.

Sometimes an app is only made available in a particular country, whether because the developer only has resources to support one area or perhaps due to an agreement with publishers. Regardless, if you’re in Europe and want to use a US-only app (or vice versa), you may be able to get around the region block using a VPN.

A VPN, or virtual private network, essentially masks your IP address. Connecting to a VPN server in the US makes it look like you’re in the US. Fortunately, using a VPN on Android is easy Connect Your Smartphone to Almost Any VPN Using OpenVPN Connect Connect Your Smartphone to Almost Any VPN Using OpenVPN Connect A VPN can help protect your data on the move. But what if your VPN provider doesn't offer an app? Here's how to setup almost any VPN on your smartphone using OpenVPN Connect. Read More , but we recommend staying away from free VPN services because paid VPNs are safer and more reliable 4 Reasons a Paid VPN Is Better Than Free Ones 4 Reasons a Paid VPN Is Better Than Free Ones I used to be big fan of free VPNs. Why pay when free alternatives exist, right? But it turns out they're selling you short. So here's why paid VPNs always beat free VPNs. Read More . See our list of the best VPN services The Best VPN Services The Best VPN Services We've compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network (VPN) service providers, grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly. Read More to get started.

6. Don’t Add New Apps to Your Home Screen

The Best Google Play Store Tips and Tricks for Android Users android play store add home screen

Don’t you hate it when you install a new app and Android automatically puts a shortcut on the home screen? If you’re like me and have a single full home screen, this ends up creating a second page — and having to delete it every time can be quite a nuisance.

The good news? You can disable this once and for all. In the Play Store, tap the menu button and go down to Settings. Under General, uncheck the box for “Add icon to Home screen.”

7. Reinstall Owned Apps in Bulk

The Best Google Play Store Tips and Tricks for Android Users android play store bulk install2

Your Google account keeps track of all the apps you’ve ever purchased and/or installed. This is great for when you upgrade to a new device and want to restore a bunch of your apps, but searching for and installing them one by one can be a huge pain.

Fortunately, there’s a better way. In the Play Store app, tap the menu button and select My apps & games. Switch over to the Library tab to see a massive list of all the apps tied to your account. Just scroll down and tap Install for the ones you want.

8. Disable Auto-Updates for Certain Apps

The Best Google Play Store Tips and Tricks for Android Users android play store no auto update

You know how sometimes you wake up and an app updated overnight, but the new version is decidedly worse than before? Some developers are notorious for this. Other apps push updates every few days, and that can get really annoying.

Fortunately, the Play Store allows you to disable auto-update for certain apps. Go to the app’s page in Play Store, tap the menu button at the top-right (you’ll only see it if the app is currently installed), and uncheck Auto-update.

9. Prevent Children from Installing Apps

The Best Google Play Store Tips and Tricks for Android Users android play store parental controls

The Play Store offers three distinct ways to “lock down” app installations, which come in real handy if you regularly let your kids play games or stream videos on your device:

  • Fingerprint block: If your device has a fingerprint scanner, you can restrict purchases to your fingerprint by going to Settings > User Controls > Fingerprint authentication.
  • Parental control PIN: You can also restrict purchases by going to Settings > User Controls > Parental controls. Turn it on, set a PIN, and you’re good to go.
  • Mature content filter: You can set when the PIN is necessary by going to Settings > User Controls > Parental controls > Set content restrictions. Disallowing Teen, Mature, and Adults Only apps should be enough in most cases.

10. Create App Wishlists

The Best Google Play Store Tips and Tricks for Android Users android play store wishlist

If you decide that you want to install an app but can’t right now, or maybe you want to wait and see if it improves before committing, then start using the Wishlist feature.

On the app’s page in Play Store, tap the bookmark icon with the plus sign at the top. This immediately adds it to your wishlist. To view your wishlist, tap the menu button and select Wishlist. Here you can choose to install or remove each app.

The Google Play Store Isn’t Perfect

Despite the usefulness of all these tips and tricks, you’re bound to run into problems with the Play Store from time to time. We’ve covered some of the most common Play Store issues 4 Simple Fixes for Google Play Store Problems 4 Simple Fixes for Google Play Store Problems Is your Android device not letting you download apps? You might need to reinstall the Google Play Store. It's easier than you think. Read More , so start there in case something goes awry on your end.

Furthermore, the Play Store may be the official option for finding and downloading apps, but it isn’t the only one. The Amazon Appstore is a strong alternative, and you can see our comparison of the Play Store vs. the Amazon Appstore Google Play vs. Amazon Appstore: Which Is Better? Google Play vs. Amazon Appstore: Which Is Better? The Google Play Store isn't your only option when it comes to downloading apps -- should you give the Amazon Appstore a try? Read More for more details. You’ll find a lot of apps there that aren’t available on the Play Store 10 Best Android Apps Not in the Play Store 10 Best Android Apps Not in the Play Store The Play Store isn't the end-all-be-all of Android apps. If you've never ventured outside of it, you're really missing out. Read More .

How do you like the Google Play Store? Know of any other tips and tricks that we missed? Or do you prefer an alternative app store? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: bloomua/Depositphotos

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  1. john
    November 11, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    One problem is still not solved in play store, and that is:
    We cannot wishlist installed apps, or even if we uninstall that app we still cannot wishlist them again. (i.e. we can only wishlist fresh apps which we have not installed yet.)

    I reported this problem so many times by giving feedback but hasn't solved yet.

  2. Dallas
    October 17, 2017 at 1:25 am

    Heads up, your email is visible in #7. First screenshot has it blurred out, but second screenshot doesn't.

    • Joel Lee
      October 17, 2017 at 2:23 am

      Thanks Dallas! I can't believe I missed that. Appreciate it. :)

  3. Mike
    October 16, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    The VPN trick works. I used ExpressVPN to download games off the European Play store that werent yet available in the US. Yes, I had to create a new profile but it wasn't all that difficult.

  4. Hildy J
    October 16, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    As far as point 7, you can also delete apps from the library (like ones you tried and didn't like) by tapping the X. The library also shows if the app was purchased (and you might not want to delete those even if you aren't using them).

    For point 8, you might consider my strategy of not allowing any auto updates but checking My Apps and Games every day. Apps with a pending update are shown (with update all and individual update buttons). Clicking on the app may, depending on the developer, show what is being updated.

  5. Brian Stickler
    October 16, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    I use a Pixel XL on Oreo and point 6 about the home screen doors not exist in my menu.

    • Cassie
      October 17, 2017 at 3:54 am

      Same here. I know it used to be an option, but, nope, no longer there.