How Do I Install an App?

If you have grown up with smartphones and computers and touchscreen kiosks for checking in at the doctor's office, probably all of this will be old news.

For everyone else, welcome! There is a first time for everything, and usually the first time you do anything you are going to be really bad at it. That's okay! Everybody starts somewhere. Even the most savvy computer user you know didn't know the first thing about apps and email once upon a time.

If you want to get good with computers, it is similar to getting comfortable in a woodshop, a garage or a kitchen. You just don't let fear overcome you, let yourself have fun and make mistakes, and realize that there is almost nothing you can do to a computer or phone that is unfixable as long as you aren't smashing it.

Fruit and Robots

The first thing is to determine what you've got in your hand, because things can be quite a bit different on an Android phone than they are on an iPhone. Generally speaking, you can just turn it over. If you see an apple on the back, it's an iPhone. Even in a case, there's usually a cutout for the company logo.

Once you have that figured out, we can proceed.


On an Android phone, there may be a lot of variability, so there might be a bit of poking around or intuition involved here. While there are certain conventions that are generally true for all Android phones, each manufacturer is allowed to do things in their own way.

One thing that is basically universal, though, is the Play Store.

Google Play Store logo and text

This is the place where you will find any app you will want to install.

Before you ask, yes, there actually are other places you can get apps. There are also plenty of places you can get malware. There are safe places to get apps that are not the official Play Store, but if you don't really know what you are doing, you should avoid ever "sideloading" an app.

The first thing to do is actually visit the Play store. You can do this with a web browser or with your Android device. Look for an icon like the one featured here. You may be able to use your phone's built-in search function to find apps just like searching the web.

In your search bar (you didn't disable that, did you?) just type play. You may see results similar to the following.

Just tap the Play Store icon to continue.

You should reach a screen similar to the next image.

The tabs at the bottom of the screen switch between categories. As we are installing apps, choose Apps.

Next we can search for the app we want. In this case, we will search for Libby.

"Libby, by OverDrive" is listed as the top result and shows the icon for the app. Tap on the name or icon.

This searching process works the same way for any app. Because there are very many apps on popular app stores (and some that try to masquerade as something more popular) it can be helpful to see the icon to be sure you are installing the right one.

Once we have our app and we are sure it is the right one, simply tap Install.

Note: The Google Play store is still a bit of the Wild West despite recent efforts at security. If you search for a popular app, a file browser for instance, you may find many apps that have very similar names and almost identical icons. These aren't necessarily going to steal your information, but they are not the app you want.

When in doubt, check out the name of the publisher right under the app name on the store page. In the following image, OverDrive, Inc. is displayed under the name of the app. You can tap that name to see the other apps by the same company. This can help weed out the fakes.

After you tap install, an indicator will show that the app is downloading. Depending on your internet connection and the size of the app, this may take several minutes.