How To Stop Unwanted Apps From Downloading On Android

Frustrating, right? You’ve given your phone to your kid and it’s come back with a score of inappropriate or useless, unwanted apps. Either that, or due to some permissions accidentally granted to another app or website, you’re finding that unwanted apps are automatically downloading to your Android device.

Whatever the issue, we’re here to help. To learn how to stop unwanted apps from downloading on Android devices, follow our tutorials below. For all other information, or to have any further questions answered, see our FAQ section at the end of this article.

How to stop Play Store automatically updating Android apps

  1. On your Android device, open up the Google Play Store (app market) app by finding it and tapping its shortcut icon
  2. Next, tap your Google profile picture in the top-right signifying your account
  3. From the drop-down menu, select ‘Settings’
  4. Next, tap ‘Network Preferences’ and from the drop-down menu tap ‘Auto-update apps’

  5. Lastly, select ‘’Don’t auto-update apps’
  6. Exit out of Google Play Store settings and you will find that no more unwanted app downloads happen on account of automatic updates

How to set up Parental Controls to prevent unwanted downloads from Google Play Store by your family/children

  1. On your Android device, open up the Google Play Store (app market) app by finding it and tapping its shortcut icon
  2. Next, tap your Google profile picture in the top-right signifying your account
  3. From the drop-down menu, select ‘Settings’
  4. Next, tap ‘Family’ and from the drop-down menu tap ‘Parental controls’
  5. Tap the button next to ‘Parental controls are off’ to toggle them from OFF to ON (gray to blue)

  6. You’ll be asked to create a Parental Controls pin of 4 numbers. Do so and then tap ‘OK’ below the ‘Type PIN’ text box
  7. Parental controls are now on, to customize them for apps, tap ‘Apps & games’ on this same Parental controls settings screen
  8. You can now set the recommended age limit for app downloads, so that anyone using your phone can only download apps within your chosen age bracket (unless they know your secret pin)
    1. Tap the green tick next to the highest age bracket you’re comfortable with your children/family downloading apps in
    2. Tap ‘OK’ on the pop-up window
    3. Tap ‘Save’ to confirm your choices
  9. You have successfully ensured no one can download ‘unwanted’ or ‘inappropriate’ apps from the Play Store without your pin

How to stop unwanted apps from downloading on Android

  1. On your Android device, open up the Settings app by tapping its gear-shaped shortcut icon
  2. Scroll down to and tap on ‘Biometrics and security’
  3. On the following screen, scroll down to and tap on ‘Install unknown apps’
  4. You will now see a list of all apps and their permissions to install unknown apps. Hopefully they are all set to ‘Not allowed’
  5. If any apps are set to ‘Allowed’ then tap on them each individually and toggle the setting ‘Allow from this source’ to OFF (blue to gray) by tapping the button to the right and then tapping the back arrow in top-left to take you back to the full list of apps and permissions
  6. Finally, repeat as necessary

Note: If any of the techniques described above do not work immediately, then you may have an issue with malware, most likely connected to one of the most recent apps you’ve downloaded (or the app you downloaded just before this issue started). To overcome this malware, uninstall any recently downloaded apps.

And there you have three different tutorials which together shall help you to stop unwanted apps from downloading on Android. If you would like more information on the topic, or have further questions, please see our FAQs below.


Why are unwanted apps downloaded onto my Android device?

Android as an Operating System is beloved by many millions of people all around the world thanks to the fact that, unlike iOS devices, Androids give their users the freedom of total control over the apps they install, the themes they choose, and the operational capabilities of their smartphone.

Or at least… almost total control. Unfortunately, you may at times during your Android experience find that unwanted apps show up randomly in your apps folder, without you ever having chosen to download them. Whilst this is rare, it can be a total pain and may even give cause for concern with regards to your phone’s security.

Generally speaking, there are three main reasons that unwanted apps would download on your Android phone. The first is the most obvious: your child, partner, friend or housemate has (deliberately or accidentally) downloaded an app onto your phone without you knowing.

The second is less obvious: A website you’ve visited, or an app you’ve downloaded previously, has permissions to alter your device by downloading third-party apps without your permission. 

The third is a little complicated: Google Play Store typically downloads new updates for your apps on a regular basis, but if the app provider has changed, or the update looks significantly different to the older version, you may find yourself with a version of an app you never wanted, automatically downloaded to your phone without you asking it to be.

In either case, we have solutions to help ensure that no apps are downloaded to your phone unless you say so!

What kind of unwanted apps download automatically on Android?

Literally any kind of app could be deemed ‘unwanted’ to the right person. Depending on what you want on your smartphone or tablet Android device, any app which appears without your express permission would likely be considered unwelcome. 

Mostly, the apps which will automatically download to your Android will be third-party apps linked to websites or other apps you have accidentally provided permissions to which permit the downloading of apps to your device. Thus, they could look like anything and serve any number of functions.

At the end of the day, if you didn’t order it, don’t pay for it! In other words, if you find something on your phone which you did not download yourself, then uninstall it immediately and follow our step-by-step tutorials above to learn how to ensure no further unwanted apps download to your Android again in future.

Are these unwanted apps useful or even dangerous to my Android device?

It’s hard to say on a broad, general basis whether unwanted apps downloaded to Android devices will provide any use to the user, or indeed whether they will in fact be dangerous. Generally speaking, however, it is sensible to avoid opening any app if you don’t know where it came from. Uninstall it immediately instead, and follow our instructions above to stop it happening again.

Some unwanted apps downloaded on Android may contain malware which can clog up your system or damage your phone if opened, whilst others will contain advertisements and content you didn’t want to see. Either way, you can stop this happening by following our tutorials above.