Android Basics: How to Enable Unknown Sources to Sideload Apps

How to Enable Unknown Sources to Sideload Apps

One of Android's biggest strengths relative to other mobile operating systems is how simple it is to sideload apps that aren't hosted on the Google Play Store. Rather than having to go through complicated jailbreaking procedures, all you need to do to allow for sideloading apps on your Android device is enable a single option.

Enabling 'Unknown Sources' on Android Nougat or Lower

The exact names of the settings entries listed below may vary slightly from device to device, but the overall process should be very similar. To begin, head to your phone's main settings menu, then look for an entry titled either "Security" or "Lock screen and security."

(1) Security menu on stock Android, (2) Lock screen and security menu on Samsung devices

From this menu, simply tick the box or toggle the switch next to the "Unknown sources" entry, then press "OK" on the popup.

Enabling 'Unknown Sources' on Android Oreo or Higher

Starting with Android 8.0, the process of sideloading apps has changed dramatically. No longer is there a system-wide "Unknown Sources" setting — instead, it's now handled on a per-app basis.

This means that when you download an APK with your browser, for instance, you'll have to give your browser permission to install apps. Same goes if you try to install an APK from your favorite file explorer — the file explorer will need explicit permission to install apps as well.

While this is a pretty big departure from the way things worked before, it's actually pretty simple. Just download APKs as you normally would, but when you launch the APK, you'll be prompted to allow the permission. Tap "Settings" on the prompt, then enable the switch next to "Allow from this source" on the following screen. From there, hit your back button, then you can resume installation.

Sideloading Apps

After that, you're all set up and ready to go. From now on, you can simply download any APK installer file directly to your Android device, then tap the Download complete notification to launch it. From there, press the "Install" button on the following screen, and within seconds, your sideloaded app will be ready to use.

What are some of your favorite apps that aren't hosted on the Google Play Store? Let us know in the comment section below, or drop us a line on Android Hacks' Facebook or Twitter, or on Gadget Hacks' Facebook, Google+, or Twitter.

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