Pokemon will appear randomly on screen as you walk around with the Pokemon GO app open. The Pokemon you find depends on your location and any holidays or events that might be ongoing. For example, if you are near a river there should be more water Pokemon in the area. If it is April and the game is having an Easter event, expect to find Pokemon with rabbit and egg features.
To increase your odds at finding wild Pokemon, use an Incense on yourself or attach a Lure Module to a PokeStop. Both items can be purchased from the in-game Shop or obtained randomly from PokeStops.
Once you find a Pokemon, tap it to enter the catch screen. On the catch screen, AR+ can be enabled (top-right corner of the screen) to place the Pokemon on a select location using your phone’s rear camera. Disable AR+ to place the Pokemon on a green field, which makes catching the Pokemon a lot easier!
You can run from a Pokemon encounter by pressing the run icon on the top-left corner of the screen. The Pokemon should remain on screen in the same area for a short time. If there are no remaining Poke Balls, the Trainer will automatically run from battle.
Rare, Legendary, and even Mythical Pokemon can be found by completing special field research challenges or completing Raid battles. More on those in their own sections.
Throw a Poke Ball, Great Ball, or Ultra Ball directly at the Pokemon on screen to attempt to catch the monster. The ball you are using to capture the Pokemon can be switched by tapping the Poke Ball icon. Great Balls have a better capture rate than Poke Balls, and Ultra Balls are better than Great Balls.
Hold the Poke Ball with your finger to see the Pokemon’s capture rate indicator: a colored circle within a white circle. The color of the circle tells you the chance of success for capturing the Pokemon on screen. Green is a high chance of success, yellow is average, orange is low, and red is the lowest.
Throw the Poke Ball directly within the colored circle to get an extra capture bonus. The bonus ranges from Nice (large circle), to Great (medium circle), to Excellent (small circle). The circle will stop shrinking once the Poke Ball is in the air.
Additionally, berries can be used to help capture Pokemon. There are only three types of berries each with their own use, but each berry also has a silver and gold version. The silver and gold berries appear to increase your success of capturing the Pokemon in addition to its original use. Once a Poke Ball connects with a Pokemon, the berry will be consumed. If the Pokemon breaks free from the Poke Ball, another berry must be used to gain its effects again.
The Nanab Berry calms down the wild Pokemon slightly, making them move around the screen less.
The Pinap Berry slightly increases your chances of receiving an item after capturing the wild Pokemon.
The Razz Berry slightly makes it easier to catch the wild Pokemon, changing the capture ring from red, to orange, to yellow, to green.
Spin the ball before throwing it diagonally (instead of directly at the Pokemon) to perform a curve ball. This is a move done by expert players to gain another capture bonus and increase their chances at successfully capturing the Pokemon. If spinning the ball counterclockwise, throw it diagonally to the right. If spinning the ball clockwise, throw it diagonally to the left. You will have to practice on when to let the ball go since different Pokemon are at different distances.
Once a Pokemon is in a Poke Ball, it will shake three times before being captured. Capture a ton of Pokemon and you might get critical captures. A critical capture is when a Pokemon becomes captured after the Poke Ball shakes once.
Capture at least one Pokemon a day to create a capture streak. The capture streak will give you bonus XP on your first capture of the day, up to 2000 XP on the seventh day before resetting.
Only a maximum of 250 Pokemon can be stored at once. An additional 50 Pokemon can be stored by purchasing a Pokemon Storage upgrade from the in-game shop for 200 Gold Coins. A Trainer can max out their Pokemon storage at 3000 Pokemon.
Capturing many of the same species of Pokemon is part of the purpose of Pokemon GO. Appraise the Pokemon to see its stats, then transfer the extra Pokemon you do not need. Pokemon candies will be traded for the transferred Pokemon.