How to Install APK on Android Without File Manager - Android Geek

How to Install APK on Android Without File Manager

Chances are that if you are looking for a way to install an APK on your Android-powered device, such as a phone or tablet, you are not a novice. We are going to cover all the details here as if you were though. It is always useful to be thorough with this kind of thing. You may find that you learn something new along the way. Let’s go ahead and start from the beginning defining a few terms that we will need later on.

What is an APK

APK stands for Android Application Package. Its name is clear. This is a way to compress applications to use with the Android Operating System. Think of it as an installer. It contains all the files needed to get the desired application installed and ready to run on your device.

In case you were wondering, this is the kind of application that Google’s PlayStore handles when you search and install an app. This is just a way to dispense with the need of using the PlayStore. You can simply get the specific APK you are looking for and install it directly.
How to Install APK on Android Without File Manager

Why use APKs?

You may find yourself needing a specific version of an app that is not available any more on the PlayStore. In such a case, you can just install it directly with its APK.

Another reason to use an APK might be that you already have the APK and currently no access to the internet. Google’s PlayStore relies on the Internet and it is useless without it. In that case, an APK will be your only way to install an application. This requires that you already have it though.

There are a few ways to get APKs. Today it is very common to find sites that hold all sorts of them. They are very convenient and work quite well.

Your options

There are three methods that we know of that we have been able to test for ourselves. We will share them with you here, with a detailed guide. You can choose whichever seems easiest to you, they should all produce the same result.

All commands are in quotes (‘’) in this article. You should not type them when issuing the commands, just what is inside of them.

Method 1: Using ADB

ADB is short for Android Debug Bridge. It is a very powerful tool to control a lot of things related to your android device from the command line of a pc. To use it you will need:

1. ADB installed on your PC or Mac: 

This shouldn’t be much of a problem, you can install it on Linux right from the command line. If you use Windows or Mac you can download it and install it easily too.

Linux or Mac would be our first choices here. We have not had great great experiences trying to do this in Windows.

2. Drivers: 

You will need to ensure that you have all the proper drivers installed on the machine that you plan to use.

3. A good cable: 

A usb cable to connect the Android device to that machine is required. Not just any cable will do. It is very common to get unexpected errors due to a cable that is not suited for data transfering. Just make sure you use a thick cable, if it is the original one that came with your device that would be best.

Once you have everything installed and configured you just need one last step. In ADB type the following command: adb install [path:app.apk]. Do not use the brackets, path is the location of your file, and app.apk is the name of your package.

Method 2: The terminal Emulator

We have touched a bit on the command line above. There is no command line readily available out-of-the-box in Android. But it is a system based on Linux, so there is a way to use a terminal. That way is known as a Terminal Emulator.

This option will only be available to you if you already have it installed of course.

It will also require root permissions. Keep that in mind if you run into strange errors during this process.

If you meet all of the above requirements the steps you need to follow are:

1. Open your Terminal Emulator App: You should be able to find it somewhere on your launcher.

2. Get superuser permissions for the session: You do this by typing: ‘su’

3. Navigate to the folder that contains your APK: Two commands will help you with this. The first one is ‘cd’. It allows you to change directory to the one you specify right after. The second one is ‘ls’. This second command lists all the available directories (folders) and files inside your current directory. Once you are positioned insde the folder that contains your APK you can move to the final step.

4. Install the APK: To do this just type ‘pm install name.apk’, where ‘name’ is the name of your app.

You are done. Depending on the Terminal Emulator you are using you may or may not see a confirmation message. If you don’t see a confirmation message you can tell that it went well because you will get a prompt.

Make sure that you take note of any error messages if they pop up, they will help you to troubleshoot.

Method 3: The browser

This is probably the most simple of the three methods. It is not always as reliable as the other two. It also requires you to have a browser installed. That should be the case in most situations, so you can just try this and see if it works.

To launch the APK installer inside a browser just follow these steps:

1. Open your browser.

2. Type: ‘file:///sdcard/name.apk’. Name is the name of your app here.
Chances are that if you are looking for a way to install an APK on your Android-powered device, such as a phone or tablet, you are not a novice. We are going to cover all the details here as if you were though. It is always useful to be thorough with this kind of thing. You may find that you learn something new along the way. Let’s go ahead and start from the beginning defining a few terms that we will need later on.

What is an APK

APK stands for Android Application Package. Its name is clear. This is a way to compress applications to use with the Android Operating System. Think of it as an installer. It contains all the files needed to get the desired application installed and ready to run on your device.

In case you were wondering, this is the kind of application that Google’s PlayStore handles when you search and install an app. This is just a way to dispense with the need of using the PlayStore. You can simply get the specific APK you are looking for and install it directly.
How to Install APK on Android Without File Manager

Why use APKs?

You may find yourself needing a specific version of an app that is not available any more on the PlayStore. In such a case, you can just install it directly with its APK.

Another reason to use an APK might be that you already have the APK and currently no access to the internet. Google’s PlayStore relies on the Internet and it is useless without it. In that case, an APK will be your only way to install an application. This requires that you already have it though.

There are a few ways to get APKs. Today it is very common to find sites that hold all sorts of them. They are very convenient and work quite well.

Your options

There are three methods that we know of that we have been able to test for ourselves. We will share them with you here, with a detailed guide. You can choose whichever seems easiest to you, they should all produce the same result.

All commands are in quotes (‘’) in this article. You should not type them when issuing the commands, just what is inside of them.

Method 1: Using ADB

ADB is short for Android Debug Bridge. It is a very powerful tool to control a lot of things related to your android device from the command line of a pc. To use it you will need:

1. ADB installed on your PC or Mac: 

This shouldn’t be much of a problem, you can install it on Linux right from the command line. If you use Windows or Mac you can download it and install it easily too.

Linux or Mac would be our first choices here. We have not had great great experiences trying to do this in Windows.

2. Drivers: 

You will need to ensure that you have all the proper drivers installed on the machine that you plan to use.

3. A good cable: 

A usb cable to connect the Android device to that machine is required. Not just any cable will do. It is very common to get unexpected errors due to a cable that is not suited for data transfering. Just make sure you use a thick cable, if it is the original one that came with your device that would be best.

Once you have everything installed and configured you just need one last step. In ADB type the following command: adb install [path:app.apk]. Do not use the brackets, path is the location of your file, and app.apk is the name of your package.

Method 2: The terminal Emulator

We have touched a bit on the command line above. There is no command line readily available out-of-the-box in Android. But it is a system based on Linux, so there is a way to use a terminal. That way is known as a Terminal Emulator.

This option will only be available to you if you already have it installed of course.

It will also require root permissions. Keep that in mind if you run into strange errors during this process.

If you meet all of the above requirements the steps you need to follow are:

1. Open your Terminal Emulator App: You should be able to find it somewhere on your launcher.

2. Get superuser permissions for the session: You do this by typing: ‘su’

3. Navigate to the folder that contains your APK: Two commands will help you with this. The first one is ‘cd’. It allows you to change directory to the one you specify right after. The second one is ‘ls’. This second command lists all the available directories (folders) and files inside your current directory. Once you are positioned insde the folder that contains your APK you can move to the final step.

4. Install the APK: To do this just type ‘pm install name.apk’, where ‘name’ is the name of your app.

You are done. Depending on the Terminal Emulator you are using you may or may not see a confirmation message. If you don’t see a confirmation message you can tell that it went well because you will get a prompt.

Make sure that you take note of any error messages if they pop up, they will help you to troubleshoot.

Method 3: The browser

This is probably the most simple of the three methods. It is not always as reliable as the other two. It also requires you to have a browser installed. That should be the case in most situations, so you can just try this and see if it works.

To launch the APK installer inside a browser just follow these steps:

1. Open your browser.

2. Type: ‘file:///sdcard/name.apk’. Name is the name of your app here.

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