How To Sideload Android Apps

How To Sideload Android Apps

Google Play won’t let you install apps to your device if it is deemed ‘incompatible’ due to screen size, while others apps are made available only for specific handsets. In both cases, you may be able to get around that through a manual installation, a process often referred to as “sideloading”. Here’s how to do it.

Technology weblog Make Use Of outlines the relatively simple steps involved in sideloading apps to your Android device. The most difficult stage is usually getting hold of a copy of the APK file for the app you wish to install. These can often be found on forums or developer sites, but be cautious; installing an unknown APK file poses a clear and definite security risk.

Once you’ve obtained the file you need to connect your phone or tablet to your computer via USB, turn on USB storage mode and copy the APK to your device. Go into Settings>Security and enable installation of apps from unknown sources. Once you’ve done that fire up a file browser (such as ASTRO), locate the APK file, and open it. Your device should then recognise the file and your app should be running in a few seconds.

You shouldn’t use this approach for piracy, and it’s worth emphasising again that installing apps from unknown sources is risky. However, for apps that have been removed from Google Play but that you still find useful, it can be a handy alternative.

How to Manually Install (“Side Load” Apps on Your Android Device [Make Use Of]


    • This approach is warranted sometimes. For example, adding Swype to a phone that doesn’t have it by default. Go to their website, join their beta program, and they’ll send you a link to their APK.
      Also I have a Telstra usage app that was pulled from Play due to trademark issues from Telstra. Telstra cracked the sads cause T-Usage was a better app/widget than their bundled version, so they pulled a takedown notice! Anyway, the only way I can get updates now is from his APK releases.

    • A lot of apps aren’t available in the Play Store. The betting agencies don’t release their apps in the Play Store – you download them and install them directly. Some other apps like Transdroid (to manage your BitTorrent software on your home PC from your phone) have been pulled. Emulators for game consoles were pulled from the Play Store (but still available in the SlideMe marketplace – which of course you need to install manually). Some apps are released earlier on Amazon Appstore than the Play Store. Some paid apps in the Play Store are free in the Getjar Marketplace

  • If you’ve got multiple Android devices and backup applications like Titanium you can pull the APK from one device and sideload it on another. That’s how I get things on my old Archos which doesn’t have Google Play.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!