I got some huge games which I don't play regularly but don't want to delete either. Is it possible to backup those apps as apk so that I can install them offline later? I'm not talking about backing up only the app data, many tools exist for that purpose. I want the ability to install the app again offline at a later time. Also, this is not necessarily an app suggestion request, any method to achieve this is OK with me.

  • 1
    Android automatically saves all the apk files of installed applications. If you happen to have root access, you should be able to get the APKs from /system/app (system applications) or /data/app/ (user apps)
    – matan129
    Jul 2, 2014 at 9:35
  • Download Android assistant app from Play Store. It allows to backup an app as APK.
    – user156624
    Mar 17, 2016 at 18:45

9 Answers 9


A very easy way is ES File Explorer from Google Play Store.

Edit: This app ES File Explorer has been removed from Play Store and is no longer available (the app was sold an the new author added malicious code to the app).

You can browse to your

  • /system/app folder (for system apps)
  • /data/app folder (for user apps; requires root to be accessed)

and copy them to your /sdcard (or anywhere else).

Copying multiple files with ES File Explorer is very easy. Just long hold one of the files, then put check marks on all the files you want to copy. Then browse to the folder (on your sdcard) where you want to place them.

Connecting to your computer via your usb cable will allow you to backup your sdcard content to your computer.

Update (Accessing the protected data/apps area):

I notice the /data/ directory is not readable. You can pull any of the content if you know it by name. I'll describe a (cli) solution to get the names and the files. However, the backup tools suggested by Izzy are the easiest way to go.

This is a step by step method to get the list of packages and pull the packages using the commandline:

  1. Download and Install the Android SDK package (or see Is there a minimal installation of ADB? for a solution requiring much less space, if you're not intending to develop Android apps). While you'll have access to just about everything in the world (Android), don't be too overwhimed... just focus on an immediate objective, and all the other features can be for a different day.

  2. Add a path to these two directories of the package install ([installedpath]/tools and [installedpath]/platform-tools for a full SDK installation).

  3. Now, with the Android plugged in via the usb, run this to get the full list of installed apps:
    $ adb shell 'pm list packages'
    You now have a list the names of all your install apps.

  4. Use the -f parameter to get the full pathname of a desired package by specifying a search string found in the previous list:
    $ adb shell 'pm list packages -f reader'

  5. Now pull the full pathname of the package you want to get with:

     ## adb pull [filepathname] [destination path] ##
     $ adb pull /data/app/com.ebooks.ebookreader-2.apk ~/mybackupdir

The steps might appear to be complicated, but they are easier done than said. Once you perform it a few times, you'll find it very easy to pull any app from your device. You can also write a script to do this as your own personal backup utility.

While there are gui alternatives as mentioned in the alternate answer, I strongly recommend looking at the features of the adb commands which includes full backups... the option for users to select precisely what they want backed up and where.

Installing the full Android SDK will give fuller access to components of your android device (from the commandline).

Look at the commands:

$ adb -help

Look at the backup section (of the help screen):

adb backup [-f <file>] [-apk|-noapk] [-obb|-noobb] [-shared|-noshared] [-all] [-system|-nosystem] [<packages...>]
     - write an archive of the device's data to <file>.
     If no -f option is supplied then the data is written
     to "backup.ab" in the current directory.
     (-apk|-noapk enable/disable backup of the .apks themselves
     in the archive; the default is noapk.)
     (-obb|-noobb enable/disable backup of any installed apk expansion
     (aka .obb) files associated with each application; the default
     is noobb.)

     (-shared|-noshared enable/disable backup of the device's
     shared storage / SD card contents; the default is noshared.)

     (-all means to back up all installed applications)

     (-system|-nosystem toggles whether -all automatically includes
     system applications; the default is to include system apps)

     (<packages...> is the list of applications to be backed up.  If
     the -all or -shared flags are passed, then the package
     list is optional.  Applications explicitly given on the
     command line will be included even if -nosystem would
     ordinarily cause them to be omitted.)

You can use the Android Backup Extractor to explore the compressed backup file created by the adb utility.

Restoring the backup to the android is a simple "-restore" command:

$ adb restore <file>

The Android Backup Extractor provides a way to explore the backup and pick out individual files (such as the apk's as in the OP's objective) to store or preserve.

The explorer package includes a variety of multi-platform tools, such as Java, perl, and cygwin.

You can extract the backup with (using the java extract opton):

## this line converts the android backup into a tar file ##
$ java -jar abe.jar unpack backup.ab backup.tar

Out side of my initial cli answer, the most precise GUI app to accomplish the OP's specific question is AirDroid. It's free, extremely user friendly and intuitive to use.

To use, run the app. It gives a local IP address for typing into a web browser. The link will give you a UI that resembles and Android home screen. Click on the "Apps" icon and select one or more apps to download. You can install or reinstall the Apps using the same interface.

There are several other GUI alternatives (graphical user interfaces) available, e.g. QtADB (multi-platform) or, for Windows users, also the excellent Droid Explorer by our member Ryan Conrad (see e.g. Full Backup of non-rooted devices; for more, also see our adb tag-wiki).

  • Can i access these folders without rooting the phone?
    – kBisla
    Jul 3, 2014 at 13:43
  • @BlueFlame Yes. Dec 13, 2015 at 2:57

There are several apps specialized on this topic. The probably best known is AppMonster, which I use (in the Pro version) for years now, very reliable (and very active dev). For alternatives and more details, please take a look at:

  • Is AppMonster better than TitaniumBakcup? I backed up an app on my LG G3 and copied the backup to another phone and tried "restoring" it although it didn't belong to the second device and it failed.
    – Shayan
    Aug 6, 2019 at 13:38
  • 1
    @Shayan No. I'd say there's nothing better than TiBu. And I'm not sure whether Grigory is still actively developing AppMonster. I don't use it anymore (though I really like Grigory, knowing him personally).
    – Izzy
    Aug 6, 2019 at 21:08

Everyone is suggesting closed source softwares here which are perhaps Adware. One should rather use Ghost Commander File Manager which has an Apps section. Copying apps to mounted (accessible in layman terms) storage is pretty straightforward.

  • 3
    For readers: poster did not mention it, neither did I see it fit to edit it, but the app concerned is actually an open source app, so that explains why he argued against closed source softwares.
    – Firelord
    Nov 8, 2018 at 9:10

I've got 'avg antivirus' installed.I just backup files from it and they get stored as apks.


Why not using SD MAID?

I've been using this tools to backup my Android apps so far. It's lightweight, and easy to use to get the apk from installed apps (without root needed).

Step-by-steps :

  1. Download the SD MAID from Google Playstore
  2. Open SD MAID menu, swipe from the left side.
  3. Choose AppControl to show app that installed on your Android phone.
  4. Tap on that application you want
  5. Then tap Exports the .apk menu
  6. You get you want!

BTW, the default location of the output (APK) will saved in Download folder (internal storage).

Reference Bartolab, How to Export APK File From Installed Apps on Android


There's APK Export which is good just for that purpose: it's only 112 kB and it's free with no ads or in-app suggestions to get the pro version.

  • App link is dead.
    – Robert
    Apr 12, 2022 at 7:58
  • @Robert Yep, you're right. You might be able to find it elsewhere (but I cannot guarantee it's the right one), or I can upload it somewhere and share the link. Apr 12, 2022 at 9:24

Based on the answer from Mahesh Hegde, I can confirm that Total Commander can also save the apps's APK. It does not require root or any extra settings.

In the main screen, there is the "Installed Apps" section. Simply select and copy the app to any folder in the other tab.

The app is available as a direct download from the developer or from app stores.


Then back up your app data after that go to Settings->Application->->Clear data(Clear the app data). After that you can able to get the apk for the selected application with the use of APK Share/Send application.

  • 1
    Looks like a great deal: to backup the app, I have to delete my data? Thanks, but I doubt that's a good approach. And why the same answer twice?
    – Izzy
    Jul 2, 2014 at 12:38

You can use App Backup & Restore application to get the backup of application as an apk file.

  • No, it doesn't backup full app. Only the app data. Didn't work for Fifa14
    – kBisla
    Jul 2, 2014 at 9:40

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