How to Block Downloading Apps on Android

How many times have you given your child your mobile phone, only to see it returned with a bunch of unnecessary apps? Or are you worried that they are downloading apps inappropriate for their age?

How to Block Downloading Apps on Android

In this article, you’ll see various ways to block the downloading of apps on Android. This will let you prevent your child from downloading unwanted apps on your device, as well as their own.

How to Block Apps with Parental Controls

Most apps have an age rating that helps determine which apps are most appropriate. You can block the downloads of apps that surpass a certain age by using parental controls within the Google Play Store. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Launch the Google Play Store.
  2. In the top-right corner of the screen, tap your profile icon.
  3. Then, tap on Settings.
  4. Scroll down to the User controls section and tap Parental controls.
  5. Toggle Parental controls on.
  6. Create a PIN and tap OK.
  7. Then, confirm your PIN and tap OK once more.
  8. Next, tap Apps & games.
  9. Select the age limit.
  10. Tap Save to apply the changes.

Apps rated higher than the age limit you set can’t get downloaded.

Note: Apps on your phone that were downloaded before you set any parental controls are accessible, despite their age rating.

How to Use Google Family Link to Block App Downloading

Google Family Link is an app that lets you manage and monitor your child’s digital well-being. You can set certain restrictions on their mobile phone or tablet usage, like app downloads, in-app purchases, and screen time.

Now, to restrict your child from downloading certain apps on their device, do the following:

  1. If you don’t have the app yet, download Google Family Link on your Android device. Google may auto-install the second one (for the child) after opening and configuring the first one using the next steps.
  2. Launch Family Link on your phone or tablet and go through the setup process to add a child if not already established.
  3. In the top-left corner of the Home screen, tap on the hamburger icon (three horizontal lines).
  4. From the menu that slides out, select your child’s account.
  5. In your child’s profile, tap on Manage settings towards the top if it appears, and then skip to Step 8. Otherwise, continue to Step 7.
  6. Under the Settings section, tap on Manage.
  7. Select Google Play from the list.
  8. Under the Content restrictions section, tap on Apps & games.
  9. Select the appropriate age limit. Example: Selecting Everyone 10+ allows apps to install that go up to the Teen rating but doesn’t include apps rated teen and up.
  10. A popup appears, confirming that previously installed apps will remain visible. Tap on OK.
  11. Lastly, tap on the back arrow in the top left or press your phone’s back button icon to exit.

How to Hide Apps in Android Smartphone Settings

Sometimes you don’t want to delete an app, but you don’t want other users to see it either. The solution is to hide the app. Certain smartphone brands have a built-in option to hide apps.

Hiding Apps on Samsung Phones

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap Display.
  3. Now, select Home Screen.
  4. Tap on Hide apps at the bottom of the menu.
  5. Select the app(s) you want to hide and tap Done.

To unhide an app, go to the Hide apps section again and unselect the app.

Hiding Android Apps Using a Third-Party App

If your Android device doesn’t have a built-in option to hide apps, you can use a third-party app like Nova Launcher.

  1. Download and open the Nova launcher.
  2. On your home screen, hold your finger on an empty space.
  3. Now, tap Settings.
  4. Go to App drawer.
  5. Tap the Hide apps option. Note: You’ll have to upgrade Nova Launcher to Nova Launcher Prime. If you don’t want to do this, skip to Step 7.
  6. Check the items you want to hide, and they’ll automatically get hidden.
  7. If you don’t want to purchase Nova Launcher Prime, you can use a workaround to disguise the apps you want to hide. Open Nova launcher.
  8. Tap and hold the app you want to hide.
  9. In the pop-up menu, tap Edit. Note: On some devices, you’ll need to tap the small pencil icon instead.
  10. Tap the app’s icon.
  11. Then, tap Built-in.
  12. Select one of the icons that you want to disguise.
  13. Edit the App label. Note: Ensure that the App label matches the app icon.
  14. Tap Done.
  15. Confirm that the app is no longer listed in the drawer.

Note: In both cases, you’ll have to set Nova Launcher as your default app. Go to Settings and search for Default apps. Then, tap on your current Home app and select Nova Launcher.

Also, a free alternative for Nova Launcher Prime is Apex Launcher, though it’s not as good as Nova Launcher Prime.

Additional FAQs

We’ve included this section to answer more of your questions about downloading apps.

How do I stop Android from installing automatic, unwanted apps?

There can be a few reasons why your Android device automatically downloads and installs apps. Thus, you should try out different solutions.

Stop Auto-Updates

If you don’t want your existing apps to update automatically, you can prevent this in the Google Play Store app.

1. Open the Google Play Store.

2. In the top-left corner of the screen, tap on the three horizontal lines and go to Settings.

4. Tap Auto-update apps.

5. Select Don’t auto-update apps and tap Done.

Change Your Google Account Password?

You may have given certain permissions to an app. This app can oftentimes initiate downloads without needing any consent from the user. You can fix this in the following way:

1. Sign out of your Google account on your Android device.

2. Change the password of your account. (Note: You can do this on your desktop.)

3. Go to Settings.

4. Navigate to Accounts.

5. Tap on your Google account.

6. Tap Remove account.

7. Tap Remove account again.

Now, you can log in to your device again.

Remove Third-Party Launchers

If you’ve downloaded a third-party launcher for your phone, chances are that you’ve permitted it to download apps without your consent. Though they may look more aesthetically pleasing than the stock launcher, remove any third-party launcher to see if this is the root of the problem.

Factory Reset

This is your last resort. If you can’t find any other solution, save the files you need and do a factory reset.

1. Go to Settings.

2. Navigate to System.

3. Tap on Advanced.

4. Go to Reset options.

5. Tap on Erase all data (factory reset).

6. Tap Erase all data.

Note: To perform this action, you might need to enter a PIN or a password.

Is Google Play Store Free?

Google Play Store is a stock app that you get with any Android device. The app itself is free to use, and you can download a lot of apps for free.

There are also paid apps that you can’t download without using a credit card or another payment method. On top of that, some apps that you download for free may contain in-app purchases that enable you to use all the app’s features.

How Do I Block Google Play Notifications?

You can block Google Play notifications from the app itself.

1. Open Google Play Store.

2. In the top-left corner of the screen, tap on the three horizontal lines.

3. Go to Settings.

4. Tap Notifications.

5. Toggle off all notifications that you don’t want to see.

How Do I Block My Child from Downloading Apps?

Updating the age rating option in parental controls is one way of preventing your child from downloading unwanted apps. However, you can block your child from going to Google Play Store altogether and remain only in the app that is currently on the screen.

1. Go to Settings.

2. Navigate to Security.

3. Tap on Advanced.

4. Tap Screen pinning.

5. Toggle the Screen pinning option on.

6. Hold the square button next to your Home button to open the multitasking view. Note: You need to swipe up from the Home screen on some Android devices.

7. Tap the icon of an app you want to pin.

8. Tap Pin.

Now, your child won’t be able to navigate off the app.

Note: To unpin an app, tap and hold the Home and Back buttons.

Can I block specific apps from downloading?

Unfortunately, the Google Play Store doesn’t give us the option to block certain apps. The only option to restrict an app from downloading is to follow the steps above to use parental controls and block apps for an age group.

Blocking Downloading Apps on Android

You can’t restrict your child’s access to a mobile phone altogether, but you can limit and monitor their use for their own sake. Parental controls in Google Play Store enable you to select the age rating so that your child can’t download an app that is not fit for their age. Google Play Family Link offers even more options and enables you to set downloading restrictions for your child remotely.

If your child is very young and simply wants to play on your phone for a limited time, you can pin an app. In this way, they can’t go to any app on the phone other than the pinned one.

How did you block downloading apps on Android? Did you use another method? Let us know in the comments section below.

5 thoughts on “How to Block Downloading Apps on Android”

Swissee says:
My younger sisters are too much obsessed with some mobile games. Their obsession are too much intolerable. I want to block those apps from the device. I need help.
Steve Larner says:
The only way to block particular apps is to install Family Link. Even then, you can’t block specific apps but can set it at the lowest rating to make it prompt for approval on all higher-rated apps. I’m not sure your age, but an adult (if you or not) can create a Family Link profile on another device, and then add your phone with the specific settings.

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