How to install an APK file on an Android smartphone or tablet?

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You have downloaded an APK file, but you don’t know what to do with it? Here are the steps to follow to install this APK on your Android smartphone or tablet to turn it into a fully functional application.

Most users only install their applications from the Google Play Store, the official Android store. However, there are other ways to get applications, usually requiring you to install a manually.APK file. Even though most intelligent Android users know how to do it, let’s take a look at this very simple but also beneficial manipulation.
When downloading APKs, we strongly advise you to find out the source of your file, as this can be a dangerous practice.


  • 1- Go to the settings, then Security
  • 2- Activate the unknown sources
  • 3- Search for the APK on your phone (using a file explorer, for example)
  • 4- Launch the APK file and follow the instructions
  • (Optional, but recommended) Disable unknown sources


An APK file – for Android PacKage – is, as its name indicates, a package containing the files of an application. Thanks to it, it is possible to install an application on your phone. To put it simply, it can be considered as the equivalent of .exe installers on Windows, .dmg on Mac OS X, or deb packages on Debian.

It can be interesting to install a file in APK format for various reasons. Among others, we can mention beta programs (even if most of them go directly through the Google Play Store), but also late deployments of updates, geographical restrictions (we think of the Pokémon GO madness), or even the simple will to avoid going through a Google service and avoid centralizing information as much as possible. It can also happen that some applications are refused on the Play Store or simply don’t want to appear there, thus forcing them to go through their developer’s site or a third-party market. This is the case for Fortnite, for example.

However, beware: installing an APK file is generally more dangerous than going through the Google Play Store, as the latter checks – admittedly after the fact – that it is not a malicious file. However, during the installation process, Android performs a quick check to make sure it is not known malware. If you don’t trust the file uploading platform extremely much, make sure to check the requested permissions and avoid entering too sensitive data like your credit card number via the application.


The first thing to do before installing an APK file is to authorize the installation of applications from unknown sources (i.e., not from the Google Play Store). You can find this option in the “Security” section of your phone settings. Note that after installation, it is advisable to disable this option to reduce the risks.

Once this is done, download your APK file from your device or copy it (either via USB or a third-party service). Then use a file explorer (whether native or found on the Google Play Store) to find the file in question. You’ll find an application called “Downloads” that allows you to access it readily on many devices. Otherwise, it’s most likely in the “Downloads” folder located at the root of your phone.

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