I have installed a few Android applications both with the adb install MyApplication.apk command and via a webserver (like an alternative to Android Market).

But where in the Android file system on my phone is the MyApplication.apk file placed? Are applications installed with adb install not placed in the same directory as applications downloaded from the Market?

I found some applications on /system/app but I can't recognize them as some downloaded from Android Market or the one I have installed with adb install.

Where on the system is applications that I have installed located?

My phone is not rooted, and I am running Nexus One with Android 2.2.1.


4 Answers 4


Where an app is stored very much depends on several criteria:

  • System apps / pre-installed-bloatware-apps are stored in /system/app with privileged apps in /system/priv-app (which are mounted read-only to prevent any changes). You may also find system apps in /custpack/app's subdirectories.
  • normal apps in internal memory go to /data/app
  • some apps (encrypted on internal storage?) go to /data/app-private
  • Apps stored on external memory go to an encrypted container in /mnt/sdcard/.android_secure. As at runtime Android needs them to be decrypted, it will decrypt them and store a decrypted copy on tmpfs (so it's gone on a reboot) in /mnt/asec
    (you cannot simply look into /mnt/sdcard/.android_secure directly from the device; but if you use a card reader and attach the card to your PC, you will see the files there have the extension .asec instead of .apk -- from which you will get the connection to the name /mnt/asec).
  • the apps data are stored below /data/data/<package_name> (internal storage) or on external storage, if the developer sticks to the rules, below /mnt/sdcard/Android/data/<package_name>.
  • 2
    Is this answer equally valid for KitKat, Lollipop, and Marshmallow?
    – jdmc
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 18:05
  • 1
    @Izzy gotta wonder what early-web archaeologists will think about that comment in 100 years time..
    – geotheory
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 8:53
  • 3
    @geotheory they might think we get paid in sweets :)
    – Izzy
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 10:15
  • 1
    Yup, this seems to remain valid on Marshmallow.
    – Not Dog
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 11:32
  • 1
    Android older than K (exclusive) does not have /system/priv-app. Instead everything goes to /system/app.
    – iBug
    Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 5:00

They are stored in /data/app/ but unless your phone is rooted all you will see is an empty folder.

  • My Droid Bionic is rooted, but the data folder is still displaying empty in DDMS! Commented Apr 20, 2012 at 15:37
  • @IgorG. I've never used DDMS and I have barely any experience with eclipse so I don't think I can help. I'd ask this as a new question.
    – Matt
    Commented Apr 30, 2012 at 22:39
  • 2
    If you're using DDMS, it is not querying the device as a 'root' user would so the /data folder is empty. You can either use adb shell and then su to root, or chmod 777 /data and chmod 777 /data/app to allow DDMS to list the contents. Just make sure you set the permissions of these folders back to 771 when you're done.
    – AWT
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 17:04

On my Android 4.0.4 (ICS) Xperia ray, they are stored in /mnt/asec/XXX-1/pkg.apk. XXX is the Google Play ID of the application.
For example, Firefox is found at /mnt/asec/org.mozilla.firefox-1/pkg.apk and Skype is found at /mnt/asec/com.skype.raider-1/pkg.apk.

Following zuul's comment I took these screenshots from my phone to confirm my answer.



Stopwatch & Countdown Timer


And these are my phone's details:

My Xperia Ray details

  • Do you have any official link to substantiate this, as to provide more information about this change?
    – Zuul
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 20:11
  • no, I don't have any link and I cannot take screenshots on my unrooted Xperia Ray. If you're using an app like X-plore or Solid Explorer, you can navigate to that directory to verify it. Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 7:12
  • @Zuul: I still haven't got any link but I've managed to take screenshots from my phone to substantiate the claim. And... if you've got any link to prove otherwise, post it here so I also get informed. Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 8:47
  • No links mentioning otherwise, I asked if you had any link for me to read about the "why" that lead to their decision on changing the directory structure. Later on, I'll look into Google's Documentation and get back to you with the link for you to place on your answer. Thank you for the trouble with the screenshots, +1 from me.
    – Zuul
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 8:59
  • 1
    Though it just applies to the de-crypted copy of apps installed on external storage (check with the mount command and wonder: /mnt/asec uses tmpfs, a temporary filesystem created in RAM -- and thus gone on reboot, together with all the apps =:-0)
    – Izzy
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 14:52

On my Kindle Fire many of the apks I haven't installed from my app store (apks from outside sources, e.g.:Aptoide,etc.) are in my downloads folder. The others I find in my /system/app folder.

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