If you ever want to install an application that is not directly from the Google Play Store, you’ll need to follow these steps to enable Unknown Source.
It can be quite dangerous to install applications and games that are not directly downloaded from Google’s Play Store. Unlike, iOS, it’s rather easy to install these applications, but it’s not always a good idea. Google does a lot to make sure the applications hosted in the Play Store are as safe as possible, and downloading an application or game from a sketchy website can actually have malware injected into it.
As a layer of protection, Google has an option available in the Settings application called Unknown Sources. By default, this option is disabled, but it’s easy to bypass this and just enable the feature. Doing so will give you the ability to manually install the application (also known as sideloading) if that is something you want to do. There are some websites that host applications that have no been modified (like XDA and APK Mirror), but those websites are few and far between.
Note – This changed in Android 8.0 Oreo so if you’re running that version of Android then you likely need to follow the second step by step guide detailed below. These steps are how it’s done on stock Android so you may find them in different places on OEM ROMs from companies like Samsung, LG, etcetera.
Enable Unknown Sources
- Launch the Settings application
- Scroll down and then tap on the ‘Privacy’ option
- Scroll down again and look for the ‘Unknown Sources’ option
- Tap this option to enable it
- And then tap OK to confirm you want to turn the feature on
Enable Unknown Sources on Oreo
- Launch the Settings application
- Tap the Apps & Notifications option
- Tap the Advanced option
- Tap the Special App Access option
- Tap on the Install Unknown Apps option at the bottom
- Then choose which are allowed to install apps from unknown sources
Again, I just want to warn you about installing applications from a 3rd-party website. There are many of them out there who promise to offer you premium applications and games for free. As with almost all forms of piracy, there is going to be some risk involved. In order for a premium application or game to be made free, they have to be ‘cracked’. If someone wanted to, they could inject some malware into these apps and games that can steal your photos, record audio from the microphone, and record video from the front or back cameras (anytime they want).
So please, just be aware of the risks involved when sideloading an application from an unreputable source. As long as you’re sure you want to manually install an application (and this is safe if you trust the source (like XDA or APK Mirror), then you’ll want to start by launching the Settings application. From here, you need to scroll down and then tap on the Security option. The Unknown Sources toggle could be located anywhere in the Settings application.
Most of the time though, this is found in the Security section. So once you tap on the Security option, start looking through this list and then find the Unknown Sources option. There should be a check box (or possibly a toggle) to the right of it. Tapping on this option will let you toggle the feature on and off. When you’re trying to toggle it on, you’ll likely get a dialog box that pops up (just like you see in the image and video above).
This is just reminding you of the risks involved, and asking if you are sure you want this feature enabled. If you do, then simply tap on the OK button but if you do not, then you’ll want to tap on the Cancel button. At any time, you can come back here and toggle this feature back off (or on) by just tapping on it. I generally do not recommend people keep this feature toggled on all the time.
So if you are looking to manually install an application or game, then come back here after it is installed so that you can toggle the feature off. Turning this feature off will not remove the manually installed application or game, so you don’t have to worry about that.