How to Download Items to Your Android Tablet for Offline Viewing

By Dan Gookin

Books, music, movies, and TV shows you obtain from the Play Store are not copied to your Android tablet. Instead, they’re stored on the Internet. When you access the media, it’s streamed into your device as needed. This setup works well, and it keeps your tablet from running out of storage space, but it works only when an Internet connection is available.

When you plan on being away from an Internet connection, such as when you are flying across country and are too cheap to pay for inflight Wi-Fi, you can download Play Store music, eBook, and movie purchases and save them on your tablet.

To see which media is on your tablet and which isn’t, open the Play Books, Play Music, or Play Movies & TV app. Follow these steps, which work identically in each app:

  1. Tap the Side Menu icon.

  2. In the navigation drawer, locate the Downloaded Only item.

  3. Slide the master control to the On position.

    Just tap the gizmo and it toggles between On and Off settings.

  4. Choose the My Library item from the navigation drawer.

    You see only those items on your tablet. The rest of your library, you can assume, is held on the Internet.

To see your entire library again, repeat these steps but in Step 3 slide the master control to the Off position.

Items downloaded to your tablet feature the On Device icon. The icon’s color differs between music, eBooks, and movies.

To keep an item on your tablet, look for the Download icon. Tap that icon, and the item is fetched from the Internet and stored on your device.

Keeping movies and lots of music on your Android tablet consumes a lot of storage space. That’s okay for short trips and such, but for the long term, consider purging some of your downloaded media.

To remove an item you’ve downloaded, tap the On Device icon. Tap the Remove button to confirm.

Don’t worry about removing downloaded media. You can always access items you’ve purchased (or obtained free) when an Internet connection is active. And you can download items over and over without having to pay again.