How to install an APK file on an Android device

An APK file contains a single application for Android. There are several ways to install an application from an APK file.

Method One: Download the APK directly onto the device

This method is suitable if the APK file is accessible as a download on the network (ie, clicking a link on a web page) and the device has network access (eg, via 3G mobile data plan, Wi-Fi or tethered USB).

  1. Start the device's Web Browser app (usually an icon on the Home page)
  2. Either:
    • navigate to the page containing the link, and press the link, or
    • enter the URL of the download link directly into the browser location field
  3. This will cause the device to start downloading the APK file via the network Once the file is downloaded, a Download complete notification will appear in the Android status bar
  4. Pull down the status bar to reveal the notification in detail, which will show the full name of the APK file
  5. Press the notification to install

Method Two: Transfer the APK via USB

This method is suitable if you have the APK file on a laptop or workstation and a USB cable for connecting the device. The Android device must have a File Manager app.

  1. Connect the device to the laptop/workstation with the USB cable
  2. The device should raise a USB connected notification
  3. On the Android device:
    1. Pull down the Android status bar to reveal the USB connected notification
    2. Press the USB connected notification
    3. You should get a screen giving you the option to operate the device as USB storage
    4. Activate USB storage mode
  4. The laptop/workstation should respond by showing the device as an external storage device
  5. On the laptop/workstation:
    1. Open the external storage device. There should be a folder (directory) called download in the device
    2. Copy the APK file into the download folder
    3. Disconnect (unmount) the external storage device
  6. On the Android device:
    1. Turn off USB storage
    2. Start the File Manager app
    3. Navigate to the SD Card (also known as External Storage)
    4. Scroll down the SD Card directory to find the download folder
    5. Navigate into the download folder
    6. The APK file should be there
    7. Press the APK file to start the installation

Method Three: Use the Android Debug Bridge (adb)

This method is suitable for developers who have the APK file on a laptop or workstation and a USB cable for connecting the device, and have the Android Debug Bridge installed as part of the Android SDK.

  1. Connect the Android device to the laptop/workstation with the USB cable
  2. On the laptop/workstation, ensure that the device is visible:
    $ adb devices
    List of devices attached 
    54A51BD47904	device
    
    $
  3. Install the APK file using the following command:
    $ adb install file.apk
    $

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