I downloaded the APK file for an app to my PC. How can I install it on my phone?

  • 10
    In addition to the answers below, you need to allow for non-Market apps to be installed. That setting can be found at Settings | Applications | Unknown sources
    – ale
    Commented Feb 2, 2011 at 14:23
  • 2
    On ICS the setting has moved to Settings | Security | Unknown sources
    – THelper
    Commented Oct 12, 2012 at 7:53
  • Are you sure that's also required for adb install?
    – Izzy
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 19:14
  • In a simple way You can also download app directly from url domain.com/build.apk on your mobile and install it. Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 5:21

8 Answers 8

  1. Use DropBox. Put the APK in your DropBox folder. Open up the DropBox app on your phone, find the apk, tap on it, and it should download it to your phone and then install it.

  2. Use the SD card. Plug your phone into the computer via USB. Mount the SD card drive. Copy the APK into the SD card. Unmount your phone. Browse to the APK using a file browser app such as Astro. Tap on the APK and it should present to install it.

There are countless other ways to do this, but these two are probably the easiest.

  • 4
    DropBox is by far the easiest way. Commented Feb 2, 2011 at 15:36
  • 1
    Is it possible to just email the APK to yourself and then open it from the email app? I presume you would've said so if it's possible, but just pointing out another possibility (which might be easier).
    – Ricket
    Commented Feb 2, 2011 at 17:36
  • 2
    @Ricket Email should work too, or at least it does on my Droid1 running CM6 (Android 2.2). I'm not sure about older versions of gmail.
    – Bryan Denny
    Commented Feb 2, 2011 at 17:44
  • As easy as that? Commented Feb 2, 2011 at 18:37
  • Yeah, the Gmail app definitely supports direct APK installation if the APK is an attachment.
    – Eric Mill
    Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 17:59

Another way...

  1. Place the .apk file onto your SD card (by using your phone as a mounted drive).

  2. Enable applications from unknown sources (go to Settings > Applications > then verify that Unknown Sources is selected).

  3. Use an application such as Installer or APK Manager to install the application.

  • 2
    Why do I need an installer? Isn't it enough to tap the .apk file? Commented Feb 2, 2011 at 18:37
  • 2
    You don't need an installer if you have a file browser to view the .apk file.
    – gary
    Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 3:42

I prefer using the ADB. However, It's a little less user friendly. This isn't the easiest way, but it will work without an SD card and will work without the device being internet connected(some devices(tablets) aren't).

At the command line you would type:

adb install "full-absolute-path-to-apk-here.apk"

The "tools" directory of the SDK must be in your path for the adb command to work.


You need two other applications from the market to to this

  • A file browser (astro, ...)
  • A application installer (appinstaller, ...)

First, you must go to Settings -> Applications -> check "install application from untrusted sources"

Then, you can navigate to the apk file (you must have copy the apk file to your SD card) with the file manager and launch it with appinstaller

  • 1
    1. I can browse directly from the stock file browser. 2. why do I need an installer? Commented Feb 2, 2011 at 18:38
  • Because you can't install a apk file with the market. Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 7:44

I think all the above answers are very relevant. Next time I would recommend downloading the APK directly to your device from the mobile browser. You will save the time and hassle of moving to the sd card or uploading to dropbox to download to your phone.

  • 8
    FYI: Referring to the "above answers" is a little problematic if people sort the answers differently from you.
    – ale
    Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 14:23

Here's a no-wires option:

Install an app like 'WiFi File Explorer' (available in the Play Store) to your phone.

From the app, you set your 'Home' directory (like /storage/sdcard) and the app connects to your WiFi network and serves that Home directory and gives you a URL (usually an IP Address and port) that you can now use any browser from any PC or device (on the same network) to connect to and view/copy/move/delete files to and from.

Use that method to get the .apk file from the PC to your phone. Then just make sure the option to install APKs from alternate sources (Settings->Security->Unknown sources on Android 4.2.2) is enabled and if you don't already have a regular File Explorer app on your phone get something like 'Total Commander' and open the APK file from there. The install process will kick in and you're good to go.


Note: the following solution is tested on Android 4.2.1, 4.4.2, COS12 (Android 5.0.2) and CM12.1 (Android 5.1.1).

If your device runs any of the said Android version and the Android is rooted, you may simply download or move the APK into you device's internal/external SD card and from there, under /data/app/. You may use a file manager app for file transfer. Reboot the device and you would find the app automatically installed in your system. You can see its icon in the app drawer and you would be able to use the app from there.

The added benefit or alternatively put, the vulnerability here, is that this approach bypasses the Privacy Guard of CyanogenMod and XPrivacy completely, even when both are active and running in fully-restrictive mode.


  • I had to resort to change the file permission of APK to rw-r--r-- in my Android 4.4.2 to make the approach work.
  • Unknown sources setting need not be enabled.
  • 1
    This answer was posted only for the purpose of sharing some interesting information. It may not be of much ease or usefulness to an ordinary end-user of Android.
    – Firelord
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 2:09

Make sure "unknown sources" is enabled, plug the device into the computer, drop the .apk into the sd card and use the web browser to go to file:///sdcard, tap the apk in question, say yes to the "this file may blow up your phone" scare notice, then tap the "file downloaded" notification and it's installed.

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