How-To Geek

How to Install Apps Not Found in the Play Store on Your Android Device


Although the Google Play Store offers thousands upon thousands of applications to choose from, sometimes you’ll want to break free and install applications that aren’t available in Google’s official store. Read on to learn how.

Your Android phone is, by default, set to disallow any applications that aren’t from the Play Store. It’s a wise move, as the majority of users are more likely to be exposed to rogue applications than when searching for apps outside of the Play Store. Nonetheless, there are times where you might want to install–or “sideload”–third-party apps that aren’t found in Google Play.

How to Allow Sideloading

If you attempt to load an APK file (the Android version of the Windows Mobile CAB or the iOS IPA file) you’ll get an error message like this:


But fear not, there’s a simple way to fix that. First, head into the Settings menu—you can either tap the “Settings” button in the error message, or just pull down the notification shade and tap the cog icon. If you choose the latter method, you’ll then need to navigate to the “Security” menu.

Screenshot_20160720-113554 Screenshot_20160720-113547

From here, it’s all smooth sailing. Scroll down just a bit until you see the “Unknown Sources” option. Go ahead and toggle it. A warning will pop up—just select “OK” here.

Screenshot_20160720-112802 Screenshot_20160720-112807

Now, re-launch that APK and it should install normally.

Cameron Summerson is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, metalhead, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys on the 'net, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, chugging away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/19/11

Comments (30)

  1. Zumaru

    If you guys (or the commenters) created a list of the best non-market place apps it would be fantasic :) Especially to go with this.

  2. AvantGuard

    I completely agree with Zamaru. I’m always on the lookout for new, cool apps and I’m not afraid of a little .apk action.

  3. Kualtek

    My favorite non-market app is Swype ( You need to signup for the beta to use it, but it’s almost replaced the physical keyboard on my Moto Droid. Best keyboard substitution app out there.

  4. Yousif Anwar

    Yes, please listen to Zumaru, and note that Android Market is totally blocked so we have no other option!

  5. jeff weeden

    i have also installed swype using the above method and i would not go back to the normal keyboard… takes a little getting use to but well worth the trying.

  6. Tyler

    This is why I love Android. It requires not hacking, and don’t really need to go deep into the settings to allow custom completely legit app’s. Rather than one company..

  7. Jason Fitzpatrick

    @Zumara: I’ll start doing some research. =)

    What apps have you guys gone off-market for?

  8. Zumaru

    I personally have gone off market for NOVA a first person shooter. It’s pretty good, controls are a little odd and freak out on occasion but as far as an FPS on my phone, its great. Although I would go off market for much more if I knew of some ;)

  9. Jonneh

    It’s worth noting that if you have a non-rooted AT&T android phone, this process won’t work because the options have been removed.’s sideload wonder machine is a great alternative in this case. I used it shortly after getting my Captivate to install the TeamViewer app.

  10. bassmadrigal

    I agree with what others have said about swype. Amazing keyboard.

    But I know getjar has a bunch of android apps, including a lot of the popular ones (Angry Birds was released there first, until their servers went down from the massive amount of people getting it).

    @Yousif Anwar, if you root your phone (fairly straightforward now with a lot of phones… some one-click programs exist for certain phones), you can get an app called Market Enabler which allows you to make the phone think it is somewhere else, like running on the T-Mobile network in the states. It has been a lifesaver for me, as my bank’s app doesn’t show up when I am overseas.

  11. ron

    Zumaru is right we need a list of the best (and safest, safest download sites) Like WOT
    we could call it…

    Web Of Usefulness

  12. Brian Carr

    good site here for goos apps appbrain

  13. Revati Sangoski

    Dear Geek
    Jason I saw your pic and it’s great to put a face to all this great stuff you send. You are amazing and I thank you for it.
    Cheers from Australia

  14. Vishnu Prasath

    Is anyone tried to install the trading software like ODIN application in any of the android phones or android based notebooks/netbook/tablet.

  15. dbldipp

    Does anyone know how to hack the android system to allow Apple apps? Please. I ahve a vast collection and am deciding which Android Tablet I’m going to buy. It would be nice to be able to use all the apps I have collected. All are cracked to work on Jail broken iPhones. Thanks for all the great info y’all post for everyone.

  16. rebelduke

    Any advice for Atrix 4g users? We don’t get the Unknown Sources dialogue box.

  17. Bruno Gama

    On the Atrix 4G we dont have Unknown sources dialogue box, anyone knows what a have to do?

  18. PeterB

    Can I install non Android Market applications on HTC inspire?

    I do not have Unknown sources dialogue box as well. What can I do?

  19. enduser2941

    I too have the HTC Inspire and we do not have the option to check allow unknown sources. Can someone please reply and let us know if there is anyway to install swipe under this situation?

    Please help us. and give this thread a bump.

  20. enduser2941
  21. Skip395

    I have the inspire and actually got the unknown sources dialog box, I kept going to update software and it kept saying software is up to date. Then, I went back to applications and it was there!! I’ve been trying to do the same for my wifes but haven’t had any luck yet. I’ve read that att is pushing the updates out maybe I got lucky

  22. JonDecker

    I have a Samsung Captivate and it doesn’t have a unknown sources option?

  23. Alfred H. Fowler lll

    Can sumbody please tell me tha bess non market android app’s 2 get 4 Tha LG Optimus 5?…

  24. Adam

    My phone doesnt have the “unknown sources” box to check, what can i do to get it?

  25. Rodney

    Heck,I have an unrooted LG Optimus V running 2.2.2 and when I go to the Android market and attempt to download certain market apps I get blocked with a message saying that my device isn’t compatible… What gives?

  26. Travis1409

    i have the same problem as jon decker

  27. ariongam

    Can we download street fighter 4 on android????

  28. cellurl

    “navigate to the APK file saved on your SD card”


  29. Byron

    My phone: Sony Ericsson does not have the “Unknown Sources” option in settings. I have the most recent update for my phone and I still can not download off market applications. Any idea how I could get the Unknown Sources option or just by-pass the error? Thank you!

  30. SiLLy95

    Ok, I have a problem, there’s an app I wanna install but it won’t because I think there background sucurity settings in effect. There are words highlighted in orange and it won’t let me install it. Please help!

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