How to Install Applications Manually (Side Load) on Your Android Device

There are millions of applications you can download from Google Play store and install on your device, but sometimes you may find that you have to install an application that you did not get from Playstore.  Installing an application off the Application store is very simple as you just need to search for the application, select it and choose install.  However, if a developer has not posted an application to Google Play Store and is instead providing it for download on a web page or if a friend shares an application already stored on the disk, you will have to sideload it or install manually to use it on your device.  How do you do this?  This is what this post is about.

First off, you will have to download the application you want to install and if it is on a local source such as your computer or a friend’s phone, you will have to transfer it to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth or any other method.  An android file often has a .apk extension (the three letters after the name).  The .apk files work the same way as .exe files work on a windows computer and can only run after copying to your device.  Unlike iOS where installing an application not downloaded from App Store is almost an impossible venture, it is actually pretty simple to sideload an application on Android.  Here is the simplest way to install an application without using a third party application.

Step 1: Enable “Unknown sources”

The Android operating system protects you and your device from malicious applications.  This is why applications whose developers are not known or whose certificates are not verifiable will be blocked.  When sideload installing an application, it is a good idea to first disable this protection by allowing the installation of applications whose sources are unknown.  This basically means all applications not originating from the Android Market.

To enable installation of apps from unknown sources:

Go to Menu

Select Settings

Select Applications

Check the “Unknown Sources” box


Step 2: install application

Browse to the location of the .apk file you want to install.  Typically, you should store it in the SD card or the documents folder.  Select the file.

On the next screen, select Install and when asked to confirm on the next screen choose Install again to set up the program

From this point, the program’s own application installer will take over and guide you through the process.  It will let you choose what features to install, where to install the files and any other options there are to choose.

Remember that “Unknown sources” protection is enabled for a reason, do not install an application unless you know its source and are sure that it is not a malware.

2 Replies to “How to Install Applications Manually (Side Load) on Your Android Device”

  1. Hey–

    If you’re on a Windows PC, our app SnapPea elegantly lets users side load apps. One of SnapPea’s features as an Android management suite is letting users download apps to their PCs through 1Mobile or Google Play. Save your data plan–check it out!


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