How to Stop a Download on Android

Because sometimes you tap the wrong button

If you’ve ever panicked because you started downloading an app or file on your Android, but quickly realized it wasn’t what you meant to do, don’t worry, you can stop or cancel a download easily in most cases. Even if you don’t stop the download in time, you can delete it quickly. Plus, if all else fails, you can take the “nuclear option” and reset your device. You can also restrict app and file downloads from specific apps like Chrome.

These instructions apply to smartphones and tablets running Android 7.0 Nougat and later.

Stop an App Download From the Google Play Store

There are many apps in the Google Play Store (and other app stores) that deliberately try to look like more popular apps. Search for a Google app, and you’ll see plenty of copycats. If you accidentally tap Install on one of these lookalikes, you can stop the download immediately by tapping the X next to the progress bar.

Google Play app download page.

The Amazon AppStore has a similar option, but the progress bar and X are much smaller, so it might take a few tries to cancel the download.

Stop a Download From an App

When you start downloading something from an app such as a mobile browser or messaging app, there’s not a straightforward way to pause or stop the download. In a pinch, you can turn off Wi-Fi or put your phone in airplane mode or even power off your phone. You can download a third-party file manager, which has better options for stopping downloads.

Prevent Downloads From Apps

If you often find yourself (or someone who uses your phone) unintentionally downloading apps on your Android, it’s a good idea to restrict downloads from some or all of your apps. For example, someone could access a random app store in a mobile browser, such as Chrome, which can put your security at risk.

Install unknown apps settings screen in Android.
  1. Launch the Settings app.

  2. Go to: Apps & notifications > Advanced > Special app access > Install unknown apps.

  3. By default, this option is turned off for all apps. Scan the list of your apps to make sure it says Not allowed next to each one.

  4. To prevent file downloads, go to Settings > Apps & notifications, and tap on the app name in the list.

  5. Then tap Permissions and toggle Storage to off.

Delete Apps and Downloads

Finally, if you accidentally download an app or file that you don’t want, you can easily delete it.

To delete downloaded apps:

Android App info screen with uninstall button.

Go to Settings > Apps & notifications, and find the app in the list. Tap on the app name then tap Uninstall.

To delete downloaded files:

Android settings screen where you can delete downloaded files to free up space.
  1. Go to Settings > Storage > Free up space.

  2. Tap Downloads, and you’ll see a list of files, all of which are selected. Uncheck any files you want to keep.

  3. Then tap Free up X MB. (Your phone will display how much storage you can reclaim.)

  4. Tap Free up space on the pop-up window.

Last Resort: Reset Your Device

Sometimes a download affects the performance of your smartphone, such as slowing it down or even disabling functions. In that case, the best solution is to reset your phone to factory settings