In this Article, we will Talk About What is an APK file, how to Download, Install & Open APK Files on PC, Windows, Android, Mac, iPhone, etc:
If you are an Android device user, you must have come across APK files at some point. Ever wondered what is it? You sure must-have. It is vital to understand it for downloading leaked apps and customizing your experience with Android that goes far beyond using just the Play Store.
Let us understand what is an APK file, how you download and open them. We will also review some tools to open APK files.
What You Will Learn:
- What Is An APK File?
- How To Open An APK File?
- How To Create An APK File?
- Software Tools To Open APK files
What Is An APK File?
APK or Android Package Kit is an extension for the Android Package files that are used for distributing applications on Android OS from Google. It is like the .exe files in Windows OS that are used for installing software. The APK files contain all the data of an application ranging from its resources and manifest to the app’s compiled application code.
From Play Store, we usually download the apps without ever noticing the word APK. It is because Android takes care of the process of app installation in the background. If you know how to install the apps manually, there are a lot of websites that offer APK files for download.
However, you must always be careful about downloading these files because just like .exe files, malware can easily be distributed in APK files as well.
Why do we use APK files?
If you think that Android’s default applications and settings are restricting, and you want to do more with your device, installing APK files is your way out. From a legit website through APK, you can download apps and games that are still in the beta stage or are unavailable in your location.
Here are some uses of APK files:
- APK files allow you to download and use leaked apps.
- They also allow you to download the latest Google updates by overriding carriers.
- Sometimes Google imposes region restrictions over the download of some apps and that’s why you might not be able to download them. APK files are the solution to this problem as well.
- Some developers don’t offer their apps to the Play Store. You will need APK files to download these apps.
Contents Of An APK File
An APK file contains all the files necessary for an Android program.
Enlisted below are the prominent folders and files that you can find in an APK file:
- META-INF/ contains the file of manifest along with signature and a resource list in the archive.
- lib/ is the native library running on a certain architecture of the device.
- res/ is the resource which is not compiled into resources.arsc. For example, images.
- assets/ are the raw files of resources bundled with the apps by developers.
- AndroidManifest.xml gives a detailed account of the contents, version, and name of the APK file.
- Classes.dex are the compiled Java classes that are to be run on the device.
- Resources.arsc are the compiled resources used by the app, like strings.
Viewing the contents of an APK file:
Since APK files come in compressed ZIP format, any ZIP decompression tool can open it. So, for viewing the contents of an APK file, all you have to do is rename its extension to .zip and open it. Or, you can open it directly through an open dialogue box of a zip application.
Finding APK Files
If you want to locate the APK files in your Android phones, you can find the APK for user-installed apps under /data/app/directory while the preinstalled ones are located in /system/app folder and you can access them by using ES File Explorer.
How To Install An APK file?
Follow the below-mentioned steps:
#1) Set up your device
To set up your Android device, go to the settings, and navigate to the security option. Select the option of unknown sources to allow the installation of those apps that is not from the Play Store. Select and check the box beside verify apps options to warn you if you are about to install a harmful APK file. With this option, you will only access healthy APK files for downloading.
#2) Find and download an APK file
Before downloading an APK file, you should be sure which APK file you want to download. You must choose a reliable file for opening it on your Android device without any hassle.
Open the browser and find the APK file you want to download. Click on the file to start the download. After the download is completed, click open to start the installation.
If the installation of the APK file is disabled on your device, you will get a notification where you can click on settings and allow APK files from unknown sources to install. And then click on install to start the installation.
#3) Download and install APK files from the computer
Before beginning the process, make sure your computer will permit the access of third-party apps from other sources. For this, from the menu option, go to settings and then navigate to the security option. Click on unknown sources to see if your computer can access unknown apps.
Now, to download and install APK files from your computer to your Android device, first find the file you want to download and then click on download to get it in your system. Select an appropriate location to save it.
After the file is downloaded, connect your Android device to your computer. From the options given to you, connect your device as a media device.
Now, find the folder where you have downloaded the APK file and copy it into an appropriate location in your device folders. Disconnect the device from the system, find the file, and install it to get the app on your Android device.
How To Open An APK File?
Although these files are used mainly on Android devices, you can open it on several Operating Systems.
(i) How To Open APK Files on Android
For opening an APK file on an Android device, just download it and open it when asked. However, because of the safety blocks, sometimes APK files that are attempted to install outside the Play Store don’t get installed right away. For bypassing this downloading restriction and installing them from unknown sources, few settings need to be changed.
Depending on the Android version, here are some ways to can open an APK file.
- From settings, navigate to apps and notifications option. Then select the advanced option and click on special app access. Finally, select install unknown apps options.
- From settings, go to apps and notifications.
- From settings, navigate to security options.
You might need to give a specific app permission to install the unofficial APK files. Or, you might see the option, enable install unknown sources or unknown apps. If it still doesn’t open, you might need a file manager then.
(ii) Opening APK File On Windows
If you want to open an APK file on Windows, you might need a cross-platform product like Bluestacks or Android Studio. You will find the tabs with options to install APK on Windows.
(iii) How To Open APK Files On Mac
Some Google extensions are meant for testing Android applications for Chrome OS and other OS as well. So, with those extensions, you can open an APK file not only on Mac but on your Windows PC as well.
(iv) Opening APK Files On iPhone
APK files work in an entirely different manner than the apps used in iOS gadgets. And both of them don’t work with each other. Hence, you can’t open an APK file on an iOS gadget, be it an iPhone or an iPad.
Extracting APK files
With a file extractor tool, you can open an APK file in macOS, Windows, or any desktop OS.
APK files are just the archives of files and folders that you can unzip using various programs like Winzip, WinRAR, etc. But with extraction, you can only see the components of the file, it will not allow you to use that file on a computer. For that, you will need an Android emulator that essentially runs android OS on a computer.
Converting APK files
APK files are meant solely for Android devices and that’s why you can’t change it directly into a file that you can execute on another framework. You can try a file conversion service or program but they aren’t useful when it comes to APK files. You can’t convert an APK file into an EXE or IPA file for Windows and iOS respectively.
You can use Chrome extensions for running these files on Windows and Mac OS.
The best way to run a specific app on iOS is to find the iOS option of the app and get it from the Apple store. But you can convert an APK file into ZIP or JAR files by simply changing its extension. And then you can open that file using WinZip, WinRAR, and other such applications.
For using it with Blackberry, you can convert APK files to BAR using an online converter.
Also read => How to open an XML file.
How To Create An APK File?
Well, if you are feeling crafty, you can design an APK file and then use it for your app. It isn’t difficult to create an APK file. You can use the Android Studio which is the Integrated Device Environment for Android Software Developers for Mac, Windows, and Linux. It allows users to create APK apps for Play Store.
Software Tools To Open APK files
There are certain tools and software that allow you to open APK files. Here are some of them.
WinRAR is easy to use and an incredibly quick compression software program in the market. Today it has over 500 million users. Over the years, it’s developers have worked on its kinks to create nearly flawless software. There is no better way to open an APK file than WinRAR. And also it is available free of cost.
- A powerful compression tool with many additional functions for helping you organize the compressed archives.
- It is faster than any other similar software available in the market.
- Saves transmission costs, disc space, and working time.
- Supports almost all compression formats.
- It is ideal for multimedia files since it automatically selects the best method of compression for each multimedia file.
- With WinRAR, you can split archives into different volumes easily and save them on different disks.
Winzip is extremely compatible and very easy to use. This feature has made it the most popular compression software by far. When it comes to unpacking files and opening APK files, it is extremely efficient. It extracts all the contents within no time. You can try it for free and if you want, you can buy its pro version as well.
- It unzips almost all major file formats.
- WinZip is an effective compressing software for reducing the size of email attachments.
- It comes with banking-level-encryption to protect the files.
- It can access and manage files not only on your PC but also on your networks and clouds.
- You can connect it to your Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, and more.
- WinZip Standard: $35.34
- WinZip Pro: $58.94
- WinZip Pro Combo: $58.94
It is a free and open-source file archiver. It is a utility that places groups of files in archivers, also known as compressed containers. It is one of the programs that is widely used to open APK files.
- It has a high compression ratio.
- It supports almost all the major file formats.
- 7-Zip has strong encryptions for file protections.
- It comes with self-extracting capabilities.
- It comes with Windows Shell integration.
- 7-Zip has a powerful file manager and a command-line version.
- It is available in 87 languages.
Bluestacks is designed to make Android applications run on PCs and Mac. It is one of the best and free emulators for PC and an incredibly popular tool for both Windows and Mac. It is a safe and legit way to open APK files.
- It can sync apps between the Windows app and your phone through a cloud connect app.
- Through a shared folder, you can move files between Windows and Bluestacks.
- You can side slope apps from the desktop by double-clicking an APK file.
- It is easy to install and use.
- It doesn’t use much RAM.
YouWave allows you to run app stores along with Android apps on your Windows PC by creating a virtual Android environment. It is specifically designed as an emulated environment but it also comes in handy if you want to open an APK file. You can either download its free version or buy its Home version.
- It has a simple interface hence can be used effortlessly.
- It also offers optimum performance.
- YouWave is compatible with 4.0 IceCreamSandwich and 2.3 Gingerbread.
- It allows you to rotate your screen.
- You can also play Android multiplayer games from your computers with YouWave.
- You can also test your Android app on your PC with this tool.
Price: Home Version $29.99
#6) Google Android SDK
Google Android SDK is a toolset that developers use for writing apps on devices that are Android-enabled. It comes with a graphical interface to emulate a handheld environment driven by Android that allows the developers to test and debug their codes.
- It comes with a visual layout
- Its APK analyzer allows you to compare two APK apps to see how the size of your app changes with app versions.
- Google Android SDK also comes with intelligent code editors to work faster and write better codes.
- Its build system allows you to customize the builds and generate multiple variants for different devices.
Website: Google Android SDK
There are many more software and tools available in the market that allow you to not just open but also edit or convert APK files. But you must be careful about which ones you use as there is quite a few malicious software available in the market that might ruin your laptop and your android device.
If you know how to work with APK files, they are fun. You get all those apps that aren’t available in your location or are leaked before their launch. Sounds cool, right? With them, you can also run your android apps on your Windows laptop or Mac. And if you want to get crafty, you can create your app as well.
If you want to get the APK version of an app that you have previously installed, you can use AirDroid from the Google Play Store. From your PC web browser, use AirDroid to access your phone. From your apps, select the installed one and click the download button to download its APK version.
So, you see, it is easy with APK files to use those android apps even on your Windows laptop or Mac. You can do a lot with APK files if you know how and what to do with it.