How to Cancel a Frozen App Download on Android

When Rebooting Fails, Forcing an App Stop Usually Does the Trick

App dowload cartoon

 EgudinKa/Getty Images

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.

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 nearly all  Android phones, apps are downloaded from the Google Play Store. In order to clear caches and get your download unstuck, you're going to need to force the Play Store to close.

Apps, Google Play Store, and Force Stop buttons in Android Settings app
  1. Go to your Settings app, which is usually represented by a gear-shaped icon.

  2. Scroll through your settings until you see Apps & notifications. Press it when you do.

    On a Samsung Galaxy and some older devices, you'll select Apps.

  3. The top portion of your screen will contain a list of apps. Just below them, you'll find a link to See all ## apps, with the number of apps on your phone. Tap on it to see all your apps.

  4. You'll arrive at a huge list of apps, each with their icon to make finding them easier. Scroll through and locate the Google Play Store tap to open the App info.

    Apps & notifications, See all 42 apps, Google Play Store on Android
  5. On the App info page, press Force Stop just below the app icon to stop the Google Play Store and your downloads.

  6. The Play Store will start back up as soon as you open it again, and you'll be able to give your download another try.

    Force Stop, OK button on Android

Use Download Manager to Fix Stuck Android Market App Download

For older phones using, for example, Android 2.1 with Android Market, the process is slightly different.

  1. 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.)

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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. In that case, it's best to uninstall the app and try again.

If you're using the Android Debug Bridge(ADB) to sideload, you can always manage things from the computer you're using to access your Android device. ADB was designed for developers, so it has plenty of tools to deal with bugs and breakage. That said, sometimes, it's just a good idea reconnect your device or restart the ADB service to set things straight first.