How to Block App Downloads on Android

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Bernard Perron
@bernardperron
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How many times have you given your child your cell phone only to have it come back with a bunch of useless apps? Or are you worried that they are downloading apps that are inappropriate for their age?

In this article, we are going to show you different ways to block app downloads on Android. This will allow you to prevent your child from downloading unwanted apps to your device as well as theirs.


How to block app downloads on Android?

The majority of apps have an age rating that determines the age for which the app is most appropriate. You can block downloading of apps above a certain age limit using Parental Controls in Google Play Store.


  1. Launch Google Play Store.
  2. In the top right corner of the screen, tap the profile icon.
  3. Tap “Settings”.
  4. Scroll down to the "User Controls" section and tap on "Parental Controls".
  5. Activate "Parental control".
  6. Create a PIN code and press “OK”.
  7. Confirm your PIN code and press “OK”.
  8. Tap "Apps & Games".
  9. Select the age limit.
  10. Press "Save".

Apps rated above the age limit you set cannot be downloaded.

Notes: Apps downloaded to your phone before you set parental controls are accessible despite their age.

How do I use Google Play Family Link?

Google Play Family Link is an app that lets you manage and monitor your child's digital wellbeing. You can set certain restrictions on your child's mobile phone usage, such as app downloads, in-app purchases, and screen time.



To do this, you will need to get Google Play Family Link for Parents on your Android device and Google Play Family Link for Kids and Teens on your child's device. Then, go through the setup process on both devices. Once you link your child's Google Account to yours, you can manage their mobile phone usage through your device.

Now, to prevent your child from downloading certain apps on their device, follow these steps:

  1. Open Google Play Family Link for parents.
  2. In the upper left corner of the screen, tap the three horizontal lines.
  3. Tap your child's account.
  4. Tap "Manage".
  5. Go to "Controls on Google Play".
  6. Tap "Apps & Games".
  7. Select the age limit.

How to hide apps on Android?

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.

Some smartphone brands have a built-in option to hide apps.

Notes: To unhide an app, go to the "Hide apps" section again and deselect the app.

  • Huawei
    1. Go to settings.
    2. Go to “Privacy protection”.
    3. Tap on “Private space”.
    4. Press "Activate" and create your PrivateSpace PIN or password.
    5. Enter your PrivateSpace using the PIN or password you created in the previous step to unlock the screen.

While in PrivateSpace mode, you can download apps that will be automatically hidden once you return to MainSpace.



Notes: To return to your MainSpace, use your usual PIN or password to unlock the screen.

  • OnePlus
    1. Swipe up on the home screen to open the app drawer.
    2. Access the Hidden Space folder by swiping right.
    3. In the top right corner of the screen, tap the “+” icon.
    4. Choose the apps you want to hide.
    5. Tap the checkmark.

Notes: You can tap the three vertical dots in the upper right corner of the screen and select "Enable Password" to prevent other users from viewing your Hidden Space folder.

  • LG
    1. On your home screen, long press an empty space.
    2. In the context menu, tap "Home screen settings".
    3. Tap on the “Hide Apps” option.
    4. Choose the apps you want to hide.
    5. Tap "Done".

If your app drawer is enabled, you'll need to use another method.

  1. Open the app drawer.
  2. In the upper right corner of the screen, tap the three vertical dots.
  3. Tap "Hide apps".
  4. Choose the apps you want to hide.
  5. Tap "Done".

Notes: App lock feature is only available for MIUI 10 or above.

Use 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, tap and hold an empty space.
  3. Tap “Settings”.
  4. Go to “app drawer”.
  5. Tap on the “Hide Apps” option. Note: You will need to upgrade Nova Launcher to Nova Launcher Prime. If you don't want to do this, skip to the workaround below.
  6. Check the items you want to hide and they will be automatically hidden.

If you don't want to buy Nova Launcher Prime, you can use a workaround to hide the apps you want to hide.


  1. Open the Nova launcher.
  2. Long press the app icon you want to hide.
  3. In the context menu, press "Edit". Note: On some devices, you'll need to tap the little pencil icon instead.
  4. Tap the app icon.
  5. Tap "Built-in".
  6. Select one of the icons you want to hide.
  7. Modify the application label. Note: Make sure the app label matches the app icon.
  8. Tap "Done".

Great! You have successfully created a disguise for your app.

Notes: Either way, you'll need to set Nova Launcher as the default app. Go to Settings and search for "Default apps". Next, tap on your current Home app and select Nova Launcher.

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

How do I prevent a specific app from downloading?

Google Play does not allow you to prevent an app from being downloaded. Instead, you need to see the age of the app you want to block and use parental controls to prevent it from downloading.

Take Garena Free Fire – The Cobra for example. This application has the age rating "PEGI 12". So you want to set the age limit below 12 years old.

  1. Open Google Play Store.
  2. In the upper left corner of the screen, tap the three horizontal lines.
  3. Go to settings. »
  4. Tap "Parental Control".
  5. Activate "Parental control".
  6. Create a PIN code and press “OK”.
  7. Confirm your PIN code and press “OK”.
  8. Tap "Apps & Games".
  9. Select the lower age limit as 12 (i.e. 7 or 3).
  10. Press “OK”.
  11. Press "Save".

Success! "Garena Free Fire - The Cobra" will not appear in Google Play when you search for it.

Additional FAQs

How to prevent installation of unwanted apps on Android?

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

Stop automatic updates

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

1. Open Google Play Store.

2. In the upper left corner of the screen, tap the three horizontal lines.

3. Go to "Settings".

4. Tap "Automatically update apps".

5. Select "Don't automatically update apps" and tap "Done".

Change your Google account password?

You may have granted certain permissions to an app. This app can often initiate downloads without requiring user consent. You can solve this problem in the following way:

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

2. Change your account password. (Note: you can do this on your desktop.)

3. Go to Settings.

4. Navigate to "Accounts".

5. Tap your Google account.

6. Tap "Delete Account".

7. Tap "Delete Account" again.

Now you can reconnect to your device.

Remove third-party launchers

If you have downloaded a third-party launcher for your phone, chances are you have allowed it to download apps without your consent. While they might look better than the stock launcher, remove any third-party launcher to see if that's the root of the problem.

Return to factory settings

It's 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 "Advanced".

4. Go to “Reset options”.

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

6. Tap "Erase All Data".

Notes: To perform this action, you may need to enter a PIN or password.

Is the Google Play Store free?

Google Play Store is a standard app that you get with any Android device. The app itself is free and you can download many apps for free.

There are also paid apps that you cannot download without using a credit card or other payment method. In addition to this, some apps that you download for free may contain in-app purchases that allow you to use the full functionality of the app.

How to block Google Play notifications?

You can block Google Play notifications from the app itself.

1. Open Google Play Store.

2. In the upper left corner of the screen, tap the three horizontal lines.

3. Go to "Settings".

4. Tap "Notification settings".

5. Disable any notifications you don't want to see.

How do I stop my child from downloading apps?

Updating age rating option in parental control is one way to prevent your child from downloading unwanted apps. However, you can block your child from going to Google Play Store and only stay in the app currently on the screen.

1. Go to Settings.

2. Go to "Security".

3. Tap "Advanced".

4. Tap "Pin Screen".

5. Enable the "Screen pinning" option.

6. Hold the square button next to your Home button to open the multitasking view. Note: On some Android devices, you need to swipe up on the home screen.

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

8. Tap "Pin".

From now on, your child will no longer be able to navigate outside the app.

Notes: To unpin an app, long press the Home and Back buttons.

Block downloading apps on Android

You can't completely restrict your child's access to a cell phone, but you can limit and monitor their use for themselves. Parental controls in Google Play Store allows you to select the age range so that your child cannot download an app that is not suitable for their age. Google Play Family Link offers even more options and lets you set download restrictions for your child remotely.

If your child is very young and just wants to play on your phone for a limited time, you can pin an app. This way they cannot access 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.

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