How to Install Non-Market .Apk Application on an Android Phone

Posted on May 12 2010 - 4:05pm by Flux

Since iPhone led the ‘App Store’ idea, Microsoft has their Marketplace and Android has Market.  These platforms are a good niche to find a secure source of applications and a developer has a way to broadcast his/her work.  If an application was purchased, the developer and the market platform benefits.  However, not all applications are found in these places.  You may find them from other means such as online forums.  This ‘how to’ article hopes to help you know how to install your non-market application on your android phone with ease that programmers do.  Please share your thanks if you found this helpful.  We will also be open to help you if you have trouble.  (The directions are Windows XP specific.  But Vista should not have too much of a change)

  1. Download and install Google Android SDK.
  2. Download Android USB drivers.
  3. Configure some settings.
  4. Type command at command shell to install app.

1. Download and install Google Android SDK(Back to Top)

First, you need to download and install the Google Android SDK (Software Development Kit).  Please keep these notes with you when you are in the developer website.

  • Make sure that you satisfy the system requirements.  Also keep in mind that if you are not programming, you may disregard a few details such as stuff about Eclipse (a programming environment).
  • After you download and install into a location (say: D:\android-sdk-windows\), you were directed to “simply unpack the starter package to a safe location and then add the location to your PATH”.  This means the following step

Right click My Computer for Properties, then…

… get to the Advanced tab.  Look for ‘Path’ in ‘System Variables’ and ‘Edit’.  Add in the ‘Variable value’ your directory with ‘tools’ folder, all separated by semi-colons.

This is so that you can access ‘adb’ anywhere in the command line.

2. Download your Android USB Driver(Back to Top)

Once you downloaded the Android USB driver, remember the directory it is under.  You’ll be placing that path to configure where to search for the driver to connect your Android phone.  Please read up on the steps given in that driver download page before continuing.  You’ll be connecting your phone to the PC via USB on this step.

3. Configure some settings(Back to Top)

Once you have successfully connected to the device:

  • Go to Android Settings/SD card & phone storage and disable Use for USB storage. You can enable it again later after you installed your third-party application.

  • Go to Settings/Application settings and enable Unknown sources.

4. Type command at command shell to install app(Back to Top)

With your already downloaded .apk file on your local computer, type below this command to install the app.

adb install <Full path of the apk file><apk file name>

Installation should inform you of a successful installation.  If you did fail, you may have a previous version of the app that needs manual uninstallation before reinstalling.


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  4. Alok June 29, 2012 at 8:21 pm -
  5. Alok Pandey January 6, 2012 at 6:48 am -

    How to install multiple non Market android apps from your computer to phone.

  6. Ipskang March 5, 2011 at 11:54 am -

    When I downloaded Android SDK , adb.bat file was in the D:\android-sdk-windows\platform-tools and I had to mention the Path in the system varibales

    FYI : Mine is HTC Desire

  7. P.Schmitz December 2, 2010 at 11:44 am -

    Dear Thomas,

    You’re Droid 2 should be able to change the USB connection settings either under the Applications section in Settings or if you have a USB section. Again the main feature you want to look for so that its as easy as possible is USB Debugging and the option to enable installing non-market Android apps. Hope that helps!

  8. Thomas Hilton December 1, 2010 at 11:06 pm -

    My Motorola Droid2 with V2.3.20 software does not have the option to
    Disable use of USB storage. Any suggestions?

  9. Thomas Hilton December 1, 2010 at 11:04 pm -

    My Droid2 with V2.3.20 software does not have the option to
    Disable use of USB storage. Any suggestions?

  10. P.Schmitz September 1, 2010 at 9:19 am -

    Dear Karan Jesrani,

    Have you made sure that USB debugging is enabled?

  11. KARAN JESRANI September 1, 2010 at 6:08 am -

    I am getting an error “device offline”. My device was plugged in, sdcard mounted, any suggestion?

  12. Todd July 26, 2010 at 4:12 pm -

    Is there an off-the-shelf Android phone that lets you tap any .apk file to install it immediately with no fuss?? There must be, but a friend is having a problem similar to the above with a Samsung Moment. He’s trying to install some non-Market software and the built-in File Viewer won’t even display the files! This seems like an enormous step backwards. I am used to running .exe, .sis, .prc, etc. files on a PDA and having them install right then, and would never settle for all these hoops. 🙁

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  14. Phil June 2, 2010 at 12:45 am -

    @Flux – Ah, I see. Now I know (and knowing is half the battle!)

  15. Flux June 1, 2010 at 10:16 am -

    Correct! The way shared here is the programmer’s way of doing it. And you will feel proud that you know how and you might explore more things with this setup. Enjoy!

  16. Phil June 1, 2010 at 7:01 am -

    Okay, or alternativley: follow the instructions in Part 3 to enable non-Market APKs, then download the APK file to your phone through the web browser (or via USB or on SD or whatever) and install it on the device without installing anything on your PC (steps 1, 2 and 4 are unnessecary).

  17. hansoo May 12, 2010 at 4:19 pm -

    It is great and very informative. Thank you.

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