How to Install APK’s on Nexus 7/All Android Devices; Side-loading Apps


For those who can’t access WiFI on their Nexus 7 or Google Play won’t allow a certain application in being installed on your device, there is an alternative you can use in order to fulfill your needs. APK-installing or Side-loading applications is a widely-pervaded technique to load apps on your device without any problems.

1. On Desktop/Mac go to file explorer.

Desktop PC’s will not need an external software program but Mac users will. Check out our post here on how to transfer files between your Mac and Nexus 7.

2. Drag and Drop .APK files into “Downloads”.

Simply, drag and drop also the .apk files you want into the downloads section of your Nexus device. The picture shown is portrayed on a Mac. (Download .apk files from anywhere. Go to Google and search: ‘name of app’ apk. )

3. On Nexus 7, enable installation from Unknown sources.

Navigate to Settings>Security> Unknown Sources and tick the box, This will allow you to install applications other than the Play Store.

4. Open file explorer on Nexus 7 and navigate to ‘Downloads’.

Any file explorer will do. The ones i reccomend using are ES File Explorer(FREE) and/or ASTRO File Manager(FREE).

5. Click on desired .apk and hit install and you’re done!

Once you finish this last step, the steps neccesary to install side-loaded apps are complete. Look for the app(s) in the menu. Enjoy!

44 thoughts on “How to Install APK’s on Nexus 7/All Android Devices; Side-loading Apps

  1. I am trying to download an apk on my nexus 7 using a file explorer.I can find the file but when I click install it says (after it loads) app not installed.Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated


  2. It’ll help if you have some experience with Linux, but it’ll definaterly help if you’ve got some patience.
    5 of the best video games with the worst graphics: Final Fantasy 7 – PSX.
    It almost felt like playing a Nintendo console (the fact an NES emulator
    can be found in the marketplace made it feel even more so).


  3. I downloaded amazing spiderman 2 on my nexus 7 and did as your instructions but when I tried to open it, it stopped in between saying amazing spiderman 2 not working. What should I do? If it’s a corrupt file could u send me the link to the best apk for the app.


  4. As others have said before, Many Thanks for this KEY concept. It seems that the Android forums make a lot of assumptions, as they should, but this is fundamental, and I could not find it anywhere but here. It should be a STICKY everywhere.


  5. When I select the desired apk file in the download folder on nexus7 (2012) and click Install, I get an error message “There was problem while parsing the package”.
    I have already updated to jelly ben 4.3 and using ES File Explorer. Kindly help.


    1. Please mention which .apk file you are trying to install. This error can occur when the existing application is already installed.


  6. Hi , i have a nexus 4 and instal button doesn’t work with non market apps ! I don’t have screen filter and “Magnifying gestures” is turned off ! What’s my next option ???


    1. Go to your Security settings and make sure ‘Unknown Sources’ is ticked. It will allow you to install APK files.


    1. There are many ways to do this, if you own a Nexus device or any device with Stock Android, open the App Drawer, hold the app until your and drag it to the ‘Uninstall’ area and press Uninstall.

      Another method would be to open Settings, Applications, choose the app you want to uninstall, click on it and press Uninstall.


  7. I don’t have screen filter app installed in my Nexus 4. Also I have turned off the magnification gesture. Some applications are not getting installed. Also I have allowed to install application from unknown sources and uninstalled the anti virus.Please help.


  8. I tried the way you mentioned. But my app is not installing. Could you please suggest me why it is not installed and how to overcome this problem?


  9. How can i install the file manager onto the Nexus 7 without wifi?

    So far, i have tried other methods such as copying the .apk file into the download folder and executing the file using Chrome by typing “file:///internal storage/Download/1.apk” into the address bar. But it does not work.

    Most solutions propose installing a file manager… but how can i install the file manager without wifi in the first place?


    1. This is your best bet right now.

      Go to….php?t=1349652

      Download from that post.

      Unzip it.

      go into the directory.


      ./adb-mac install blah.apk

      If your on windows:

      adb install blah.apk

      You just need to make sure drop the .apk files you want to install into the same directory as adb. Makes it easier..otherwise you have to include the path to the .apk file:

      ./adb-mac install /var/tmp/blah.apk


    1. I had the exact same problem. After failing to find an answer in the internet forums I first turned off the “Magnifying gestures” feature in the accessibility settings. Nothing happened. But after I turned off the screen dimmer app “Screen filter” I had no trouble installing it. Maybe disabling some apps might help if it happens to someone else too. Bye.


      1. Thanks for this advice! I’ve tried everything, but didn’t think it was the screen filter. Now all is good!


      2. Where do I find this “screen filter” app?
        I can find it nowhere.😦 thanks

        This same thing just started happening to me. Now I cant click the install button.


      3. Thanks! I just recently was having this problem and turning off my recently installed screen filter did the trick.


  10. Thank you so much. SInce getting my Nexus 7, I have been searching everywhere to find out how to do this as my son has downloaded some free games files for me, as my internet is very poor and I can very rarely use it, but I did not know how to get them onto my Nexus 7 or how to install them. I haven’t tested it out yet, but I’m fairly confident with such clear, concise (and dare I say it) idiot proof instructions, I’m not forseeing any problems. I tried asking on android forums, but the answers always seen so technical or involve the internet in some way (no good for me obviously) This is definitely what I have been looking for. MANY THANKS!


      1. Yes it works.
        Try using USB cable, connect nexus to the PC, use adb and issue command adb -device to list device connected to the pc. Next issue adb (-s SerialNumber -> optionally) install /pah/To/APK/an.apk.
        This is actually fastest way of installing application into Android device.


      2. Sorry for the late reply. Yes. That is also a solution, but we are specifically side-loading applications to the Nexus 7, which means you needs 3rd party software for Macs in order to be accessible to the feature. For example, to transfer Music, you would have to navigate to the Music folder. But for that option to appear on a Mac, you would need the Android File Transfer application. And plus, this method is a bit simple, which means that most of the population will be able to comprehend its meaning.And also, on a Nexus 7, you would have to enable MTP, not USB Debugging, as there is no option.


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