How to Cancel a Frozen App Download on Android

When rebooting fails, forcing an app stop usually does the trick

App dowload cartoon

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The Google Play Store app store for Android has evolved significantly since the early years when the Android Market featured tons of buggy apps and the market itself was prone to crashing, leaving stuck downloads semi-permanently frozen on your screen.

Today's Google Play Store offers a significantly more stable environment. Even if you do experience a random app-download crash, simply rebooting your device is sufficient to get things moving again. In rare situations, however, more involved fixes may be necessary.

Note: The directions below should apply no matter who made your Android device: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

Fixing a Stuck Download on Android

Stuck downloads, in general, are fixable – assuming a device restart doesn't do the trick – by forcing the offending app to close.

Access your Application manager through the settings app and either clear the cache or data and perform a force stop or force close. 

Using Download Manager for Stuck Google Play Store App Download

For newer Android phones, apps are downloaded from the Google Play Store. In order to clear caches and do force stops of the Play Store app, go to Settings, which is usually signified by a gear-shaped icon. On a Samsung Galaxy running Android 4.3, for example, tapping the icon will bring up a menu, within which you should go to the More tab.

From here, tap Application manager, which brings up a list of all your apps. This list is usually separated into four columns: Downloaded, SD Card, Running, and All. The Running section, by the way, is a good way to close active apps you aren't aware of that continue to run in the background. To stop the hung-download problem, however, just go to All and scroll down to the Google Play Store app; then tap it.

You'll see a bunch of options in the resulting menu. Usually tapping Clear cache and Force stop should do the trick. Otherwise, you can try tapping Clear data as well.

Use Download Manager to Fix Stuck Android Market App Download

For older phones using, for example, Android 2.1 with Android Market, bring up your settings by tapping the Settings app or doing whatever you do to access the settings menu. (Specifics can vary by the device with older phones.)

Tap Applications, then tap Manage applications to expose a list of all your apps. In case all your apps aren’t showing, tap the menu icon and select Filter to display a list of filter options. Pick All to show all the apps you have installed.

Once all your apps are showing, scroll down to Market and tap it to display another group of options. Now tap Clear cache and then Force stop.

Although this procedure usually works, if you still experience difficulty you can also go to Download Manager and tap Clear data, then Force close.

Private Stores and Sideloading

Some organizations, including larger employers, offer custom Android apps outside the walled garden of the Google Play Store. In general, the same process for fixing frozen downloads follows, except instead of forcing closed the Google Play Store, you'd force close your company's proprietary market app.

Advanced Android users sometimes "sideload" (i.e., load an app that's not from the Google Play Market) through various tools. Although forcing closed the sideloading app can sometimes work, a broken sideloaded app more often than not represents a security and stability risk to the device that may require that Android be reflashed to the phone.