How to download Android apps in APK file format

How to download Android apps in APK file format
As many of you know, installing an Android app is a simple, straightforward process – you open the Play Store, find the software you need, and press that big green "Install" button. Android apps, however, also come in the form of packages which are installed manually, not via Google's app store. These packages have an ".APK" file extension, and their practical uses are numerous. For example, one can have offline backups of apps stored as APKs. Even if the app in question gets pulled from the Play Store (like what happened to Flappy Bird), it can still be installed from an APK file. Also, APKs are used when sideloading apps on phones running forked Android versions as these don't come with the Play Store client. Think the Amazon Kindle Fire or the Nokia X phone.

So, where do you get APKs from? While they can be downloaded from the internet, the safest way is to extract Android installation packages straight from an Android device. Keep in mind that the method described here works for free applications only! Paid apps are protected against extraction for obvious reasons. Also, apps that download additional data during installation (see image #5) may be unusable if installed from an extracted APK. Apps that download extra files after they've been installed should work fine. With that out of the way, here's how you turn your own Android apps into APK installation files.

  1. On an Android device, open the Play Store and download the apps you need extracted.
  2. Download APK Extractor. It is a free and easy-to-use application.
  3. Open APK Extractor and tap on any app you wish to extract. Long-press to select multiple apps. The APK files will be saved in a folder on the device's storage. (ExtractedApks by default.)

That's pretty much it! The extracted APKs can be now copied onto another Android smartphone or tablet and installed with the help of a file manager like Astro or ES File Explorer. 

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12 Comments

2. alexvv

Posts: 165; Member since: Oct 16, 2013

yes but the whole point of sideloading apks is to be able to have otherwise paid apps on your android. this is useful only for developers and they probably know it already.

5. jellmoo

Posts: 2660; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Wow. No. No it is most certainly not the point.

4. engineer-1701d unregistered

up updates that are not out yet or when i put gs5 s-voice on my gs3

6. iushnt

Posts: 3153; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

I use these kinda apps frequently to install and update apps that doesn't show up in my (infuse 4g's) play store. For e.g, Talkatone and ChatOn

7. JakeLee

Posts: 1021; Member since: Nov 02, 2013

Unpack them and convince yourselves that they are mostly native apps, and not Java ones, unlike the Androtakus so blindly claim. The only thing Java does on Android is bloating the whole system.

8. shayan

Posts: 159; Member since: Sep 09, 2010

ES file explorer already have something similar to this. Go and backup any app you like inside ES explorer and it gives you the apk file in the backup folder.

9. Aplusk

Posts: 120; Member since: Nov 10, 2013

If it can copy data files too along with apk ? it will be good.

10. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Just use Titanium Backup. Yes, I know it requires root

13. blinx

Posts: 23; Member since: Oct 09, 2013

most of this large data is stored in android/obb... jst copy the folder u want and dats it..

11. techspace

Posts: 1037; Member since: Sep 03, 2012

I use apk share app from Google play store to send free apps to my friends via Bluetooth....after installing the app, it shows a list of Apk files of all(almost) the apps installed in the phone...we can send the apk Files from the app itself.

12. wreis

Posts: 18; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

No need root just Es file explorer and backup app opiton.

14. mashreghi

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 25, 2016

I'm using this website to download both APK and OBB files of android packages: apkfind.com

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