- File type: Android package file
- Extension file: .apk
- Format: ZIP format
- mime type: application/vnd. android.package-archive or application/octet-stream
- Category: Executable Files
- Developer: Google
- Description: Application package file
If you have a mobile phone with an Android os, then surely you have heard of APK. Next, we will show what is this file format, how to install an apk file and how to open it. Not opening? Try our suggested software.
What is an APK file
The APK file extension is an android package executable. The APK format was developed by Google and it is categorized as an executable file. The File extension APK is in the zip format.
The file has grown in popularity over time since these permit easy download apps that cannot be downloaded to an Android phone via Google Play Store.
The typical content of an APK file package is:
- Folders: Meta-Inf folder with the manifest file, res and assets folders with resources, lib folder with the native library for specific architectures.
- Source code Files: Resources.arsc (compiled resources), classes.dex (application code java classes compiled), androidmanifest.xml (info about the name, app permision needed, contents and app android version).
In MAC we have IPA file which is a ios app store package similar to APK. Once you download an apk file from Google Play store, it gets installed automatically on your Android device with the .apk extension file.
If you want to install apps from a place different from Google Play store you will have to install apk files manually on your mobile device. For example you can download apk files from apk mirror or amazon app store.
How to open APK Files
These are the generic instructions to run, execute and install APK files on your device:
- Search and find your .APK file.
- Double click on it on a computer. Tap on it or an Apple or Android devices.
- In the open with drop down software options select a suitable APK installer, APK downloader or opener to run apk files.
- Confirm the action.
The apk files cannot run on a windows 10 or older, or in a laptop by default. You have to download an apk opener for pc or laptop that emulates android to install an apk.
How to install and extract APK files on android device
The .apk files are applications for Android (Android Package), similar to the .exe in Windows. If you click on an .apk file from a mobile phone or tablet with Android a program will be installed.
Files with .apk extension are packages that contain an application for Android. They have the same operation as the classic .exe files found in Windows. We click on them (from Android) and an application will be installed on your device.
They can not be installed in Windows and MAC by default (at the end of this page we will learn how to do it). They are only for devices with Android.
To open files in .apk format you should download it to your Android phone or tablet and open it from there.
To install an .apk file on Android you must activate the option “Unknown origins” by going to: Settings -> Security
Once this is done, you simply click on the file. A window will appear that you must accept, and it will start to be installed.
If you are an Android user you often find sites that suggest downloading the APK of some software. It is simpler than it seems but, at the same time, it can represent a risk. Your Android mobile device is automatically set not to permit the downloads of third-party apps. You are, therefore, required to permit downloads before proceed.
Follow the steps below to permit the app downloading:
- Go to the Settings screen on your phone
- Click on Security and this will lead you to Security Settings
- Click on the checkbox opposite “Unknown Sources” APK settings to allow installation of apps from other sources.
- A dialog box then shows that warns you about the risk of installing apps with malicious software from unknown sources.
- Click on Ok to start the downloading.
This setting allows you to download any app from an external source without ever visiting Google Play. Be careful if you install unknown apps. Installed apps from unofficial apk files can harm your devices.
Open an APK File on PC
If you are an android developer you should use Android Studio SDK
File extension Apk installer for Windows is the correct option users have to open it in Windows. http://download.cnet.com/s/apk-installer/windows/
In the link you will find an application very useful to manage this kind of files for apps and games.
Open an APK File on MAC
If you have chrome browser installed in your MAC you can open an apk file with the chrome extension ARC Welder. It will help you test an android APP in your browser.
Programs that Open APK Files
These are some applications that you can download to run apk files. They are easy to use to manage edit, open and convert an android application package in windows, mac, linux, iphone, ipad, android operating system and apple devices.
Genymotion: It is an android emulator program for your android apps in a PC. You have 1000 minutes free of charge with Genymotion.
- Free for personal use.
- 412$/year for business.
- 136$/year for freelancers.
- Support: All
Noxplayer Nox: It is another program for android game. Noxplayer can run this package format.
You can get it for free. Then just launch it to play your apk file games.
- Price: Free
- Support: Windows and MAC
Bluestacks is another option to run and install APK file games.
- Just download the Bluestacks installer from bluestacks.com.
- Double click on it to install it in your PC.
- Launch Bluestacks
- You will see a screen similar to an Android smartphone.
- Link your google play account to the device.
- Now we can install your android app and run them.
- Price: Free
- For Windows and MAC
Memu is another android operating system emulator for Windows that can help you open your apk. It is mainly optimised for games and it has a great performance.
Memu have many apps already installed. So you can use them or get others. Memu let you have in your desktop some or all the apps you have in your mobile or tablet.
Download it, launch it and start enjoying your apps and games in your PC desktop or MAC.
- Price: Free
- For Windows PC and MAC
ARC Welder is a google chrome extension that can open apk file. ARC means APP runtime for Chrome. This tool can help testing and publishing android Apps to Chrome.
To use it go the webstore, search for it and click on Add to Chrome.
When you have it installed in your chrome browser you can open an APK package with it.
- Price: Free
- Support: Windows and MAC
- Note that it will be discontinued after december 2020.
Google Android SDK
It is a open source popular alternative to create and run an apk without an emulator but only if you have technical knowledge. Android studio is a software development platform. It provides tools for building apps for every available android devices to android software developers.
- Price: Free
- Support: Windows , Linux and MAC
APK-info is an application a little different. It will let us extract the main information from the apk file such as the name of the app or game, version, compilation data, size, package name and other technical information.
APK-info is a open source software. We can find it available on Github.
Just get the file, then, launch the application. Look for your packages in the file explorer and click on it. The information about each will be displayed in your screen.
- Price: Free
- Support: Windows
APKtool is another technical tool only for computer fans. The APKtool is an online reverse engineer of android apk apps. It is a program that let you decompile online the .APK . So, you can get the original components, decode the original source and extract assets or the manifest files.
Do it with these steps:
- Go to Javadecompilers website
- Click on choose file
- Select the one you want to decompile online
- Then, click on Upload and Decompile.
- You can later save the files as a .ZIP in your computer.
Remember that it is recommended to use it only for education and legitimate purposes.
- Price: Free
- Support: Online / Windows
Online Archive Extractor
With Online archive extractor website you can open an apk file online and extract the archived components. You don’t have to download any program.
- Go to this website
- Drag and drop it to the green zone or
- Click on browse and find you .apk
However, it is also possible to get the chrome extension.
- Price: Free
- Support: Online / Windows
File Viewer Plus
File viewer plus is an universal file opener. It supports many file formats. With this program you can view and manage the format with edit, save or convert options.
It also has an advanced image editor that displays metadata and advanced image information. It also has a text and hex editor.
- Price: Free trial for 14 days
- OS Support: Windows 10 or older
Youwave is a different alternative software to open an apk file and it goes a little bit further. With Youwave you emulate not only apps but also app stores. The program emulates creating a virtual android device environtment.
- Free version
- Paid Home version (30$)
- Operating System Support: Windows 10 or older
Extracting apk files with other extractors
It is a package file like a ZIP file. We can open it using a file extractor tool. This will help us to view all the components and also to extract all the files that contain the .APK.
But you can’t run it. To do it you need an android emulator as we seen before.
These are some zip decompression tool file extractors that you can use to extract an APK file.
- Apple Archive Utility (MAC os)
- Smith Micro DtuffIt Deluxe 16
- WinRAR 5
- Corel WinZip 23
Chromebook doesn’t support by default android apk files but you can use a file manager.
You have to download an android file manager, for example Solid Explorer to emulate, execute and view an apk on your Chromebook.
Please note that to download the app you have to check the option “unknown sources”. This is only available in the developer mode.
How to convert an apk file
Convert to .BAR
You can convert them to BAR file. To do it a good option is to use an apk file converter like this goodereader converter. This is to use it with your blackberry.
Convert to .ZIP
The conversion to ZIP is easy. Just rename from the suffix .apk to the suffix .zip and you are done.
Convert to .JAR
The conversion to JAR is also easy. It is the same as .ZIP. Just rename it to the suffix .jar and you are done.
Convert to .IPA
It is not possible. You can’t execute it on an IOS device.
Convert to .EXE
You can’t convert APK to exe. It is not possible to convert an apk to a windows executable file.
What is an XAPK File
.XAPK file is categorized as compressed files and comes in the zip format. It is a special package used for installing android apps on any mobile device. It has a similarity to the standard .APK file .
However, it may also contain several other assets that are used by the app to be downloaded, egg a .OBB file; this file is responsible for storing several programs, like media files, graphics, and several other apps.
XAPK files are used to distribute apps on a third-party Android app that you have downloaded from the internet. This format is, however, not supported by Google Play.
.XAPK format is not a standard app installer package. As a result, it must be manually installed or the installation must be done using a XAPK installer.
After you have downloaded the .XAPK, the app can still be installed to your Android device with the aid of a XAPK installer.
If you prefer you install any additional files manually, you can get the XAPK unzipped first and then move the unzipped files to the right location on your mobile device.
It is, however, difficult to deliver the apps through Google Play since the size of the concerned APK file must not be more than 50MB.
This is forcing apps developers to go for other files for storing additional media assets and graphics, like the OBB format mentioned earlier.
Due to the limitation mentioned above, some of the developers publicize their apps on several other sites aside from Google Play. The .XAPK format can be used for packaging the OBB and APK files together to bring about a seamless installation and delivery process when an android app is being downloaded from a site that is not Google Play.
Before you download the file in the XAPK format from any external source aside from Google Play, you should first verify if that website is trustworthy or not since it is possible to distribute malware and even spyware through .XAPK files.
How to open .XAPK files
You can open XAPK files on your android device by using the APKPure app. If you are using Windows Operating System, on the other hand, you can use Pure APK Install to open the .XAPK on your Windows device.
If you do not have access to any of the programs mentioned above for opening the .XAPK, you can install it manually by changing the file extension.
In this case, you need to:
- First find the .XAPK.
- Then launch the File Manager.
- Locate the .XAPK and change the name of the extension to .ZIP.
- You can then navigate to Google Play to download the RAR app.
- Next, copy the .obb file into any location you prefer and install the APK.
- after which the app will collect the resources automatically from the OBB data file and it will run as intended.
It is equally possible to open it using your PC. You will need to first download Pure APK Install on your PC before you can do this.
One other helpful app for opening it is the Uptodown App.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does APK mean?
Let’s start with the most basic, for those users little related to technicalities. APK is called files with extension corresponding to .apk and whose full meaning is Application Package File, which was designed for the Android operating system.
What is it for?
Through these files it is possible to install programs that have been compressed (similar to a ZIP), they work in both phones and tablets -in general in any platform with a similar structure.
It is worth mentioning that, in order to perform a successful installation, it is necessary to be familiar with all the terms related to the topic, since it is not as simple as downloading an application from Google Play, opening it and enjoying it.
Is it recommended to install APKs?
Like all content that does not come from the Google store, you must test your common sense to know from which sites these files can be downloaded without risk.
Not all APK files are harmful, because these sometimes represent applications that were removed from the market for different reasons that do not necessarily have to do with being a threat to your phone or tablet. They also serve for the beta versions that many developers put on their sites so that users who install it give their opinion and improve or fix errors.
If you are one of those who are constantly looking to exploit the benefits of having an Android phone, it is worth having an ativirus, but before leaving all the work to a security software, analyze the sites that suggest the download of such files and above all, know well what you are about to install to your gadget.
If I found a secure site, how do I install it?
A .apk file could contain other formats such as .dex, .res, AndroidManifest.xml, resourcers.arsc or classes.dex, to name a few. You would need specific software such as Winzip or WinRAR for extracting them, or an emulator.
But if we think of most of the APKs, the dynamics is quite simple and only requires attention, since you usually have to click on a link that activates the download of the file and it will be hosted in your Files or Downloads section within the phone or tablet, no matter which cell phone manufacturer or model you use.
If you are installing a .apk for the first time you will surely see a message warning that the phone is set to not install programs from unknown sources.
For which you just have to go to the Settings menu. Then to the Security section and activate the box from Unknown sources to be able to complete the installation. In some phones it appears as Unknown sources.
The .apk file can be downloaded from the phone and installed directly. If you have it on the computer, simply connect the phone by USB cable.
Then, pass the file to the memory of the device.
Google allows you to activate or deactivate this option. So that you can exploit Android resources, although yes, in the small letters you read “at your own risk”.
Where to download APKs
Best sites to Download are the following:
- APKmirror: app repository.
- Appbrain: freeware apps and games.
- AndroidFreeware: Lots of downloadable free apk here
Also you can download apks from google play.