How to sideload apps on Android


You’ve probably heard it many times before - the beauty of Android lies in its openness, but what does this really mean? Today, we look at one particular feature that makes Google’s platform stand out, and is a great example of openness. We’re speaking about the possibility to easily sideload apps, of course.

First, though, what does ‘sideloading’ mean? It is just another word to describe ‘installing’ an app from a source other than the official Google Play store. And why would you want to sideload apps? Simple - you might want to test an app that is not yet published, and sideloading is the best way to do this.

It's important to note that by default, sideloading is disabled in order to protect your device from malicious apps, but enabling it is very simple. You have to do the following:

Go into Settings -> Security -> Look for the Device Administration tab -> Check Unknown Sources.

With this done, you are now ready to sideload apps. In order to do this, you must - of course - have the original APK file for an application. You can put that APK file on your phone by connecting the handset to a computer via a USB cable, or download the APK straight from the web. If you choose to get an APK on the web, the file will usually be in the ‘Downloads’ folder on your Android device.

Using a file manager application, find the APK file you want to sideload and tap on it. You’ll see what permissions are required, and the ‘Install’ button at the bottom. Tap on it, and you’re done - you’ve successfully sideloaded the APK!

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23 Comments

1. MR-H-

Posts: 116; Member since: Apr 10, 2014

How so sad and bad, that this spec is not vailable on WP and APPLE ... I'm wating for this spec on both platform, but will need to wait 5years perharps...

5. Sauce unregistered

6 years.

13. dexter_jdr

Posts: 1163; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

i dont blame you. its because wp and ios doesnt want that pop-up warning on how to side load apps.

15. fanboy1974

Posts: 1345; Member since: Nov 12, 2011

WP maybe but never Apple. Apple and company are control freaks and will never allow unsigned code from bypassing the 30% cut, porn apps or modified apps that will make in app purchases a thing of the past. If it wasn't for people wanting larger phones Apple would keep the 4" phone for at least another year with no big option available. There is no urgent need to open up sideloading on Apple devices. A big screen phone would keep Apple afloat for another 2 years guaranteed; sadly.

23. the_matchless

Posts: 64; Member since: Apr 01, 2012

So very well put!

2. ARITRA

Posts: 45; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

and from where should i get those apks??? :P;)

6. greatoneiw

Posts: 41; Member since: Apr 08, 2014

oh...wait...let me see...there is a place they call it internet , and in that place there are thousands of site's putting apks for free download so ether you came here from moon or you're just kidding...

8. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

While anyone here would know the answer to that question, they would also know how to allow for sideloading. So clearly an article like this would be more geared towards users that wouldn't know where to get those "apks". Heck, I would be willing to go out on a limb and say that most users that don't already know how to do this also probably don't know what an "apk" is. This, to me, is just a very implete article.

7. Wiki_jaan

Posts: 704; Member since: Jun 24, 2012

get blackmart n u ll get almost every thing

3. Jommick

Posts: 221; Member since: Sep 10, 2013

Congrats to PA for making articles like this. I love being able to tell people asking me for mobile tech support (for free) to look things up on this website first.

11. eldyagustius

Posts: 182; Member since: Oct 30, 2013

At least they don't make an article about apple or samsung ;)

4. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

It might be smart to give the disclaimer that some sideloaded apps can be a bad thing. If one doesn't know the source in which they are downloading from, then it's probably not the best idea to do so. In fact, I would go as far as to say if you're not a modder, then I probably would just leave that box unchecked.

9. joaolx

Posts: 364; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

So you're telling people how to install pirated apps on android? Not only that but installing apps that are not controled by google and is probably not good when it comes to protecting yourself. The Play store is not safe so imagine the app you're sideload.

10. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

What are you talking about? The play store is just as safe, if not more so, than apples store, or the WP store. Now, if you were just talking about the general safety of sideloading, then you would be correct. That's why you only side loading from places you trust, like XDA. But don't make statements like the "official store" isn't safe. It makes you sound like a fanboy.

12. ihavenoname

Posts: 1693; Member since: Aug 18, 2013

Play Store is not nescessarily safer, but it's 100% safe enough. If one has even slightly common sense, malware is not an issue at all. And if safety is concern, there are many Antivirus apps that can scan apps when installing them. Not mentioning that Google itself is constantly improving safety.

16. joaolx

Posts: 364; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Yeah, I'm a fanboy, I love Android, iOS and Windows Phone. Google made steps to improve the security and it's improving but their approving process is not as rigid as apples so even if Apple Store is a bit limited by this it means its safer. Android apps have a lot more access to the info in your phone than iOS apps. You don't have to bring the fanboy bulls**t into this argument, I'm pretty sick of people calling me a fanboy when I love and use all major platforms and like every one.

18. vincelongman

Posts: 5654; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

I don't think a approving process is necessary Just as many malicious app have made the on to AppStore, so the approving process doesn't add much more security if any at all Also you can easily check the permissions, which will give a very good indication of if the app is dodgy

20. The-Sailor-Man

Posts: 1095; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

iBS Android is more safe than iOS. Period(do you wanna links?) Google Store is not worse that Apple Store about the security . Sideload apps are user's responsibility. Period

14. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

This is a good article from Phone Arena. They didn't go all the way with it as they don't want troubles, but the unpublished sequel to this article talks about how to get apks from Google Play and sideload them onto your device. This is how many people who don't want GoogleNSA's Play spyware running on their phone all the time put apps on their phones. And there are many non-pirate options for getting APKs. I get some of mine directly from the developers. The flexibility with loading apps is one of the best aspects of Android. And for many devices, relatively easy root :)

17. Totse2k15

Posts: 477; Member since: Feb 11, 2014

This is why I love Android -- Sideloading easy as pie. :o)

19. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

Those that don't know what side-loading is obviously probably don't know how to. Those that know what sideloading is probably know how to do it. A better title would be "How to install apps on Android from sources other than Google Play". And then explain that this is called side-loading.

21. gigaraga

Posts: 1454; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

Doesn't Google Play automatically appear if you try to sideload an app that wasnt purchased initially? I tried doing that with Asphalt 7: Heat but it said it wasnt purchased from the Google Play Store. I ended buying it anyways but I was just wondering...

22. express77 unregistered

Is phonearena out of articles?

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