After you have downloaded your Android APK file, you can follow these instructions to learn how to manually sideload that application on your device.
Last week I wrote up a guide that walked you through what the Unknown Sources feature was, and how to toggle it on. I did this because I wanted to have a tutorial that talked about manually installing an Android application. Most apps and games should be downloaded and installed from the Play Store, but there are some times when it can benefit you to sideload that application or game by yourself.
Thankfully, the Android OS already knows what an APK file is and it does most of the work for you. Still, if you’re brand new to Android then you might not know how to go about sideloading an application or game on your own. I’ve always talked about making Android Explained a repository of tutorials that can teach someone everything they need to know about Android. And manually installing something is one of those things you should know how to do.
Manually Install an Android App
- Enable Unknown Sources on your phone or tablet
- Download the Android .APK file from a reputable source
- Launch a file explorer application of your choice
- Browse to where you downloaded the .APK file (generally the Downloads folder)
- Tap the .APK file to launch it and bring up the application installer
- Tap on the Install button at the bottom right
- Then tap on the Done button once the application is completely installed
Again, I can’t stress enough about how important it is to only download Android applications from reputable sources. Besides the Google Play Store, the only other places that I recommend downloading Android applications are APK Mirror and XDA-Developers. These websites go out of their way to make sure applications have not been tampered with. Sadly, there are thousands of others who don’t care and will tempt you with free premium apps and games to use their website instead.
Using unreputable websites can result in your phone or tablet getting infected with malware, which can result in personal data like photos, videos, passwords and bank details being stolen from your device. So once you’re okay with a source and have downloaded an Android application you want to manually install, go ahead and enable the Unknown Sources feature on your smartphone or tablet.
You’ll also want to have a file explorer installed on your device too, so that you can launch the APK file and initiate the install. Once you have the Android application APK file downloaded, and Unknown Sources is enabled, you can then launch the file explorer application of your choice. I recommend Solid Explorer, but another popular option is File Commander (both of these are shown in the embedded video above).
With the File Explorer application open, you can then browse to where you have downloaded this Android application APK file, and then simply tap on it to launch it. Android knows that APK files are applications that need to be installed, so it should automatically pop up the installer service. An application like Solid Explorer will prompt you before hand, and ask if you really want to launch it with the Package Installer.
So from here, simply tap on the Install button at the bottom right, wait for the application to be installed, and then tap on the Done button (again, located at the bottom right). With that done, you can tap on the Home button to go back to the Home Screen and you should see your application here. If it’s not, then you might need to launch the App Drawer first as this is where all of your installed applications are located.
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