How Do You Download an App?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Sep 8, 2020 12:09:20 AM ET
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If you have a new phone, tablet or computer, you’re probably looking to download some new apps to make the most of your new technology. Short for “application,” apps let you do everything from listening to music to syncing your phone to your car to playing games.

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With so many apps to choose from, however, it can be a bit daunting if you don’t know how to download them. Fortunately, downloading apps can be quick, simple and easy regardless of the kind of technology you’re using. Read on to learn about how and where to download apps.

How Downloading Apps Works

When you download a file on the net, whether from a store or elsewhere, a file hosted on an online server is copied onto your computer. If you’ve ever been online, either on a phone or computer, you’ve likely already downloaded files on many occasions. Apps are no different — they’re just specific kinds of files you download from the internet.

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Apps are typically set up as executable (.exe) files, although apps meant for Apple devices often come as either APP (.app) or DMG (.dmg) files. Sometimes (especially when it’s meant for computers), an app is compressed into a ZIP file (.zip or .zipx) to save space. To do this, you may need another program, such as WinZip or 7-Zip, to open it, although you may also be able to open it by left- or right-clicking if your device came with the ability to open ZIP files.

In many cases, however, downloading an app is as simple as clicking a button on an app’s page. As long as there’s enough space left on your device, the app will likely be ready for use once it’s done downloading.

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Apps From Google Play

Android is an operating system used for phones, tablets and more. Odds are that if your phone isn’t an iPhone, it’s probably an Android device — brands include Samsung, Huawei, LG, Motorola, ZTE and many more. To download apps for an Android device, you can either visit the Android website or use the Google Play app. (It’s often pre-installed on phones and tablets, so you may already have it.) Be aware that you’ll likely be prompted to sign in with your Google account or create one if you haven’t already.

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Open the Google Play store on your device and then search for the specific name of the app or any broader category that might interest you. Click on the app result to learn more about it. If the app is free, it should begin to download; if not, you’ll be prompted to pay for it. Either way, once the file is downloaded, you’re good to go.

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Downloading Windows Apps

Microsoft hosts apps on its website, which you can access via any device with a web browser. You can use the site to download apps for tablets, computers, phones, Xbox consoles, virtual reality sets and more, so it’s important to check the system requirements on each app’s page to ensure that the app is compatible with your device.

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Select whichever free or paid app you’re interested in to see a brief description of the app. If you choose a paid app, you’ll be prompted to enter your credit card information or a gift card to complete your order.

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Using the Apple App Store

The Apple App Store hosts apps designed for iPhones, iPads and other Apple devices. As with Google Play, it's often pre-installed on phones. Like other app stores, it lets you filter apps by category, including featured apps, newest apps, popular apps, themed categories and more. Choose the app you want and follow the onscreen directions to download it to your device. You'll need to log in or create an account complete the purchase.

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