What is your first reaction when you see a “download pending error” message while installing an app from Play Store? And if you need the app urgently, say for a taxi ride, the error can be very frustrating. In such situations, our first impulse is to blame everything on poor Internet. Indeed, the problem is more commonly faced while using public Wi-Fi, on roaming networks, and with traveler SIM cards in a foreign country.
Google does recommend having a strong Wi-Fi or carrier network for downloading Play store apps. But, in many cases, it’s not the Internet speed which is the real issue. You also don’t have to reboot your Android phone or tablet or nervously search for another Wi-Fi provider. There are calmer and easier ways to ensure that you can start downloading your desired app in any urgent situation.
Are You Using a VPN?
A strange quirk of the Google Play Store is that if you use a VPN, it tends to think that you’re not Wi-Fi. This means that if you’ve set apps to only download and update over a Wi-Fi connection, they won’t download if you’re using a VPN.
There are two possible solutions to this. The higher-risk option is to allow to download over non Wi-Fi networks.
To do this, go to Settings in the Play Store and change the options under “App download preference” and “Auto-update apps” to allow non Wi-Fi downloads. Be warned that this may incur data usage charges if you’re not careful.
The safer option is to simply switch off your VPN whenever you want to download things from the Play Store, then switch it back on when you’re done.
Enable Background Data Usage
There’s a good chance that the Google Play Store app on your phone isn’t currently set to have unrestricted data access in the background. This doesn’t necessarily mean that downloads won’t be occurring in the background, but in some cases it can cause unexpected holdups.
So to address this problem, go to “Settings -> Data usage -> Data Saver -> Unrestricted data”. Then scroll down until you reach Google Play Store, and tap the slider next to it so that it’s blue and switched on. That should be enough to get background up and running again, and get rid of that frustrating “Download Pending” message.
If that doesn’t quite cut it, then don’t worry. There’s more solutions to come.
Stop Auto-Updates and Pending Installations
The basic idea behind the download pending error is that Google prioritizes background updates and installations to more recent downloads. Clearly, to allow the download, the earlier processes must be stopped first. As soon as it’s done, you can get back to installing your intended app once again.
On the Play Store app click the icon with three little bars (☰), followed by “My apps & games.” Here, you can stop auto-updates and any pending installations. This might seem counterintuitive as many of us feel that auto-updates free us from waiting for new features, bug fixes and security patches. The key is to be selective about the apps requiring auto-updates. You don’t really have to start Gmail or YouTube from Google Play Services, much less allow their auto-updates to consume valuable memory. Simple, isn’t it?
To free up space on Android, it’s always a good idea to disable auto-updates and go for manual updates.
Clear the Storage Clutter
If clearing the queue didn’t work, you might be looking at device and Play Store version issues. Usually, if there is much less free space, it can interfere with the download of apps. As a precautionary step, go to “Settings” followed by “Battery and Storage,” and check your device’s “Storage” issues. You can also clear the cache from “App info.” It’s good to delete any excess apps or bloatware which may be causing your device to act weirdly. Optionally, you may force-stop the Google Play Store app and start it once again.
Sometimes SD cards can cause download issues on Play Store if they have not been set up properly. In such cases take the card out and reinsert it. However, if it was corrupted, stop using the SD card immediately. You don’t really need one for a download on the Play Store.
Bypass Download Pending Error with this Tweak
The download pending error can always be bypassed by doing away with the “Play Store” app altogether. Indeed, you can visit the official Play Store website on your phone’s browser and log in with your Google account to access the app.
After selecting the app in a browser window, you have to choose your device model. You can check later if the app was successfully downloaded on the device.
If All Else Fails, Try This
In the event that you’re feeling extremely unlucky, here is one last method to try, short of a factory reset. It might be that you restarted your phone several times, emptied the cache, and checked the SD cards, but nothing has worked. In such unlikely situations, you can always delete your Google Account associated with Play Store and add it back up once again.
Simply visit “Accounts-Google,” select your account, and click “Remove account.” After five minutes, you can add a new account to sync with Play Store and start the download once again.
All the methods discussed in this tutorial are tried-and-tested solutions derived from the Google Play Help website. Additionally, you can also choose to fix the problem on your own if you have permission to root your device, such as with Pixel phones.
Do you know any other methods to solve this common download error on Play Store?
This post was updated in Sep 2019.