How to install APK manually

Lorenzo Delli

If you usually follow AndroidWorld or other technology sites that deal with the Android theme, you may sometimes see the wording “download apk”: this wording indicates the presence in these articles of useful links to download the so-called APKi.e. packages that contain the installation files for applications dedicated to Android, like the Windows executables (.exe) or macOS (.app).

Downloading and installing an APK is therefore equivalent to manually install an application on your Android devices,”stepping over” therefore the Google Play Store from which it is usually possible to install applications and games with a simple tap on the screen.

Also the Play Store of course contains apps and games in APK format, but only installs them on the device making the operation transparent to the user. So if there is the Google virtual store (or the Amazon App Shop) to find and install everything I need, Why should I manually install the APKs, and above all, how do i install them manually? We try to answer these two questions.

How to install APK manually

Before wondering about the usefulness of manually installing an .apk file, let’s see how to do this safely. Before downloading and installing one manually you need to follow one very short procedure. Over time this procedure has changed, and the fastest way to complete it is to go to the Settings of your smartphone and search “Unknown Origins” or simply “unknown apps” (or even just the term unknown) in the search bar at the top. You should find an option that reads “Install unknown apps”. Pressing it you will be redirected to a list of applications. Basically, new versions of Android require that the user ad authorize a single app to install programs from unknown sources, i.e. our .apk files that we want to install manually. What you have to do is simply give permission to the browser you use (Chrome, Firefox, Edge and similar) to download the apk to install those packages. It can be useful too authorize your file managerwhere you find the downloads downloaded from the browser.

Once you activate this settings you are ready to manually install .apk files. If you downloaded it from Chrome or any other browser, there should be notifications that the file has been downloaded. If you press us, you will immediately start installing the file on your smartphone or tablet. Otherwise you will have to use a file manager, i.e. an application that allows you to explore the contents of your folders. APKs downloaded directly from smartphones usually end up in the Downloads folder. Most smartphones have named applications Archive or similar which allow you to explore the folders present and to find the one called Downloads. If you don’t have a good file manager on your Android smartphone, you can always get it from the Play Store: try for example Star. Once found, search for the APK you want to install and press us above.

How to download apk Archive

How to install apk manually – Once you have identified the APK on your device, just tap on it to start the installation procedure.

If your device has the version Android 6.0 Marshmallow or higheronce pressed on the APK, in addition to displaying the appropriate button to continue with the installation, you can also consult the permissions that the application will require to be performed properly.

Do not leave out this information: since it could happen that you install APKs taken precisely from “unknown sources“, is always good check what you are getting into.

Why install APK manually

Download APK from “unknown sources” can be extremely dangerous for your device. Applications and games available in the form of APK downloaded from unknown sites may actually hide malicious codeas malware also able to take the remote control of the device and install more malicious code.

We therefore advise you to install APKs on your device only if you are absolutely sure where the file came from and, above all, only if you are forced to. A safe source from which to download apk safely is apkmirrorbut if you are a little familiar you can find many others.

Android Malware

How to install apk manually РMalware can be hidden even in the most harmless APKs: some time ago there was one hidden even in a Pokémon GO APK that was circulating on the net.

Then there are certain developers who they prefer not to publish their applications on the storesmaking them available from their official sites or forums such as XDA directly in APK form.

Also in this case you can sleep peacefully. And if you want to be even more relaxed, you could install a antivirus such as the one proposed by Kaspersky.

Let’s not get confused though: there are no viruses on android, the antivirus you find on the Play Store are used to detect any viruses in the files you download to your mobile device which you could then move to your Windows PC. The malicious files that Android has to fear are malware, another category of files therefore equally dangerous. It must be said that malware also hides on some applications available on the Play Store: the general rule therefore always pays attention to what you install on your device!

Unable to open apk file

It is possible that when trying to install an apk downloaded from the Internet, you will be greeted by an error screen which usually shows the message “Unable to open apk file“. There are two alternatives: either your Android smartphone/tablet is incompatible with the application/game you are trying to install, or the apk file you downloaded is somehow corrupt or damaged.

In the first case there is very little to do, you will have to resign not to use that application or that game on your device. You can try to Google if indeed your device is incompatible with that game (usually it is sufficient to search for the combination of terms “device name” + “app/game name“). If not, then you may have stumbled upon a corrupt apk. Try to find the same file from another source, however being careful not to run into dodgy sites.

If you download apks from apkmirror it is also possible that you have downloaded one that is not suitable for your device. Pay attention to the version you download: they vary according to the processor architecture, the Android version and even the DPI of your screen.

Install apk file on PC

There are programs dedicated to Windows that allow you to run applications and games dedicated to Android directly on your PC. One of the best known is BlueStacks.

You can download it for free from the official site.

Also on BlueStacks you can install apk files manually. If you have already downloaded and installed BlueStacks just follow the steps below:

  • Download the apk you want to install on your PC
  • Open the path C:Program Files (x86)BlueStacks
  • Search for the file HD-ApkHandler
  • Click on it with the right mouse button and select the item Send to -> Desktop
  • Drag the apk you want to install to the icon HD-ApkHandler


How to install multiple apk at the same time

And if we wanted install multiple apk packages at the same time? If you’re wondering how useful this is, it’s actually easier than you think. Suppose you have a few apk applications that you manually install for various reasons without going through the Play Store. Now suppose you want to factory reset your smartphone. Once the restore has been done, you should manually reinstall all the apks one by one, unless you use an application available on the Play Store.

Unfortunately, however, with the latest versions of Android it has become much more difficult. Each application requires permissions and, possibly, even intermediate steps, and it is said that the old solutions still work.

There is an old application called APK Installer which, as the name suggests, would allow you to easily install apks from both internal and external storage. The interface is easy to use, and will allow you to select multiple apks from a bulleted list and install them all with just one tap. But the functions of APK Installer don’t end there.

Download from Play Store

Backup an apk

Let’s say there’s an application you’d like switch manually to another device or to a friend of yours who has an incompatible smartphone, at least according to the Play Store. Always using APK Installer you can transform the applications installed on your device into an apk that can be installed at will on another Android device.

In Manage App simply select the app or game you want to convert into an apk and press on Export apk.

Obviously the backup thus created must be saved in memory or somewhere else (for example on your PC). There are other ways to back up your apps and games. For example, you could try Apps Backup and Restore, always available for free on the Play Store.

Download from Play Store

But be careful, as already mentioned, it is possible that some of these applications do not work properly on the most recent versions of Android. What was said instead to install the apk still works today without major problems.


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