Taking a look at your friend’s Android smartphone, you noticed the presence of an app that you had never seen on the Play Store. Intrigued by what you asked for clarification about it, your friend explained to you how and where to download the app but when the download was complete you found yourself in front of an APK file? Well, if that’s the case and if now you would like to understand how to open APK files I have good, indeed excellent news for you: I’m here ready to explain everything that needs to be done to succeed in the enterprise.
Before explaining, step by step, what you need to do to be able to open APK files, it is good that you understand what we are talking about. APK files are packages that contain all application files for Android, similar to .apps on Mac, and to some extent .exe on Windows. It is possible to obtain APK files from alternative markets for Android or from specialized Internet sites, but you have to be careful what you download, in order to avoid running into even serious problems.
Having clarified this, if you are therefore willing to find out what you need to do in order to open an APK file on Android, but also on your computer, I invite you to get comfortable and dedicate a few minutes of free time to carefully read this guide. I am sure that in the end you will be able to tell yourself more than satisfied that you have succeeded in your intent and that you will also be ready to say that doing this was actually a real breeze. Ready? Yes? Very well, then let’s get started.
- Preliminary information
- How to open APK files on Android
- How to open APK files on computer
- How to open APK files on Windows PC
- How to open APK files on Mac
Before getting to the heart of this guide and explaining, in practice, how to open APK files , let me give you some more information on the nature of this category of elements.
As I already mentioned at the beginning of this guide, the APK files are nothing more than the packages containing the apps for Android: generally, these files can be safely downloaded from the proven seriousness markets available for the devices animated by the ” green robot ”, such as the Google Play Store, the HUAWEI AppGallery or the Amazon Appstore.
However, it is also possible to obtain APKs from third-party markets other than those mentioned above, or from Internet sites, and this is where the security problems begin, especially if you try to open files of this type directly on Android (the emulators for Windows and macOS, on the other hand, create a protected environment that does not affect the operating system data): these files could in fact be designed to carry malware on users’ devices, putting at risk not only the integrity of the data, but even sensitive information and the entire operating system .
For this reason, in order to avoid that the user installs files of this type too lightly, Android blocks their execution by default: the execution of APK files can still be authorized by performing a simple unlock procedure but, please, always check the reliability of the site or market from which you get the files , using tools such as WOT or McAfee Siteadvisor , or by carrying out targeted searches on Google .
Furthermore, if you intend to often operate with APK files on Android, choose and install a good free antivirus for your smartphone or tablet, so as to nip in the bud any computer threats potentially carried by applications of dubious integrity.
How to open APK files on Android
Having clarified all the aspects related to the security of the case, let me explain how to open APK files on Android in the simplest way possible. Exactly as already mentioned above, the Google operating system allows the opening and execution of APK files, as long as a specific system function is unlocked.
Therefore, if on your device there is an Android edition equal to or higher than 8.0 , you must authorize the app from which you will start the installation of the APK file: for example, if you intend to download it from the system browser, you will have to allow the latter to launch APK files; if, on the other hand, the file is already present on your device and you intend to access it through a file manager, you will have to operate on the latter.
Having said that, once you have identified the app from which you intend to open the APK file, go to the Android Settings by tapping on the gear symbol resident on the Home screen or in the drawer of the device, reach the App and notifications> Advanced> sections. App with special access / Special access to apps and tap on the item Install unknown apps .
Now, examine the list of applications on Android looking for the one from which you intend to act on the APK file (eg the Google Chrome browser), tap on its name and move the lever corresponding to the Allow item from this one from OFF to ON origin ; if necessary, wait for the timer to “expire” and respond affirmatively to the next warning.
Keep in mind that, on some versions of Android, the names of menus and options may be slightly different: to give you an example, on Xiaomi-branded devices, you need to access the Settings> Privacy protection> Special permissions> Install unknown apps panels .
If, on the other hand, your device is running Android 7.0 or earlier, you do not need to authorize any specific app, but only enable the installation of files from unknown sources for the entire operating system: you can do this by going to the Settings> Security menu ( or similar) and moving the lever corresponding to the item Unknown sources from OFF to ON .
Once the unlocking procedure has been completed, all you have to do is access the APK file to install using the app you previously authorized (if necessary), respond affirmatively to the warning regarding potentially harmful files (if it is shown) and tap the Install and Finish / Open buttons to complete the app installation and start it.
Do not forget, once the procedure is complete, to revoke the permissions for the installation of files from unknown sources , repeating the same procedure that I showed you a little while ago and deactivating all the switches you have previously enabled.
If you were wondering about the possibility of being able to open APK files on iOS , I am sorry to inform you that the answer is negative: in fact, you cannot run apps of this type on smartphones and tablets produced by Apple, unless you get involved in extremely complex procedures. – and, let me tell you, somewhat inadvisable.
How to open APK files on computer
Contrary to what you might think, it is possible to open APK files on a PC not only to view their contents, but also to run the applications contained within them, thanks to some programs designed for the purpose.
For example, if you are interested in viewing the elements contained in an APK package because you are approaching the world of Android programming and would like to understand something more about the internal organization of the files containing the apps, you can achieve this by using any program free for the management of compressed archives with support for APK archives, which could be 7-Zip for Windows or Keka for macOS.
Once you have downloaded and installed the chosen program (I explained how to do it in the guide that I linked to you a little while ago), you just have to find the APK package of which to view the contents, right-click on its icon and select the items 7- Zip> Open if you are on Windows , or Open with> Keka if you are using macOS, from the context menu that appears on the screen.
If instead you want to run an APK file on your computer exactly as if you were in the presence of a smartphone or a tablet animated by the Google operating system, you must install an emulator for Android with support for manually loading APK files. Below I will illustrate, in detail, the operation of the BlueStacks emulator for Windows and macOS.
How to open APK files on Windows PC
To install the BlueStacks emulator on Windows, connected to its official website , click on the Download BlueStacks button and, once you have obtained the program installation file (eg BlueStacksMicroInstaller_XX.exe ), open it and click on the Yes and Install buttons now , to start downloading the necessary files from the Internet and complete the program setup.
Once installation is complete, you should find yourself in front of the emulator main screen: if the program does not start automatically, you can use the icon that, in the meantime, has been added to both the Start menu and the Windows desktop.
During the first start, an analysis of the computer will be carried out and the subsequent decompression of the files necessary to run the Android apps; later, you will see a window, the central part of which, which clearly resembles the Android drawer, contains the links to the apps installed in BlueStacks.
Now, if you intend to use the emulator only to run APK files, you can avoid running the Play Store (with Google account association ) and go straight to the “point”: to upload the file, click on the [APK] button located in the small right sidebar of the program, or press the key combination Ctrl + Shift + B on the keyboard and use the next panel to select the package of your interest. If you don’t see the BlueStacks sidebar, click on the button located at the top.
Following this operation, the installation of the app will be completed completely automatically; at the end of the procedure, the icon of the installed application will appear on the BlueStacks Home screen, accessible by clicking on the house symbol located at the top. To start the installed APK, click on its icon and, if prompted, Apply the graphics settings and restart the program, using the button that appears on the screen.
How to open APK files on Mac
Even BlueStacks for Mac allows you to install APK packages very easily. However, the program installation methods change: to obtain it, connect to this website and click on the Download BlueStacks button , to download the program setup file, in .dmg format.
When the download is complete, launch the file obtained, double-click the BlueStacks Installer icon , located in the window that opens and, when necessary, press the Open button to overcome the restrictions imposed by the Mac against non-certified developers.
Now, click on the Install now button , type the Mac password in the appropriate field, click on the Install assistant button and wait for the copying of the files necessary for the operation of the emulator to be completed.
To complete the setup, grant the program the permissions necessary for its correct operation: then click on the Open System Preferences and Allow buttons and, once in the macOS System Preferences screen, click on the locked padlock symbol visible at the bottom left , in order to authorize the modification of the settings.
At this point, type in the Mac administration password and click on the Unlock button , in order to complete the setup and display the main software screen. If the program does not start automatically, open it yourself, using the icon that has been added, in the meantime, to the Launchpad .
Once you have reached the BlueStacks home screen, click on the Start button and log in to your Google account; then, press the Next , Accept and Start using BlueStacks buttons to finalize the initial configuration phase.
At this point, to install an APK file in BlueStacks, locate the file in question using the macOS Finder , right-click on its icon and select the items Open with> BlueStacks from the context menu that appears; to start the installed applications, open the emulator, click on the My Apps tab (top) and then on the name of the application to run.