How to Sideload Android Apps on Windows 11

Sideloading APKs made easy

by: - Last updated on: October 23rd, 2021
Key Takeaways
  • Microsoft has finally added the promised Android App support to Windows 11 recently using Windows Subsystem for Android.
  • While the Amazon store has some useful Android apps, the collection is rather limited.
  • Today, we will help you sideload any Android app on your Windows 11 machine with ease.

When it comes to Android, sideloading third-party apps is a common practice for many. But what if I told you that you can do the same on your Windows 11 machine? Sounds cool, right? Let’s take a look.

Microsoft recently finally added the promised support for Android apps to Windows 11 with the Windows Subsystem for Android. The tech giant has partnered with Amazon for its app store.

You may refer to this guide for downloading the Amazon Appstore on your PC.

Sideloading App Windows 11

The Amazon Appstore does offer some useful Android apps, but the collection is somewhat limited.

Microsoft, however, is working with Android app developers to bring more apps on board. But since it’s technically Android, you can sideload any app you want. Let us take a look at it.

Pre-Requisites

  1. Windows 11 running PC/Laptop
  2. Download SDK platform-tools
  3. An Active Internet Connection
  4. APK of the app you want to sideload. (You can use websites like apkmirror.com to download these APKs)

Setting up the Platform-Tools

One cannot sideload any third-party app on Windows 11 without platform tools.

So let us have a look at how to download and set up Platform tools on Windows 11.

  1. Download Platform Tools. Now right-click on the zip file and press the extract button.
  2. Once the file is extracted, a platform-tools folder will get created.
  3. Now, copy the APK file of your preferred app and paste it inside the platform-tools folder.

Sideload Android apps on Windows 11 using the Command Prompt

Launch the start menu and search for Windows Subsystem for Android.

  1. Open the app and scroll down till you find the developer mode toggle switch. Enable the toggle to enter developer mode. After that, look for the IP address option and press the copy button right next to it to copy the actual IP address of the PC.
    Sideloading app windows 11 7
    If you get an unavailable error below the IP address, open the Amazon App Store app in the background as it actives Windows Subsystem for Android.
  2. Navigate to the platform-tools folder we downloaded earlier. Here, click on the address bar on top and type “cmd,” then press enter.
    Sideloading app windows 11 5
  3. A Command Prompt window will pop up. Here type ” ADB connect < the IP address you copied earlier>” and then again press enter.
    Sideload App Windows 11 8
  4. Once you see the connected successfully message, type the command “ADB install filename.apk” in the command prompt. Ensure to input the exact filename of the app you want to sideload; otherwise, the process will not work.
    Sideload App Windows 11 9
  5. Boom, wait for a few seconds, and it will install your preferred app with ease.

Make sure the file format is .apk, as you won’t be able to sideload anything in another file format.

This process is time-consuming, and I would like something simpler to sideload multiple APKs. Is there a way to do this? Well, there is an excellent alternative to do just that.

Aurora Store – Amazon App Store Alternative

The Aurora Store is a very popular Android store and has a huge collection of apps to choose from, unlike the Amazon App Store which has limited options.

Also, all the apps in the Aurora Store are free to install.

Also, once you have Aurora installed as a sideload, you can install apps directly on Windows 11 without having to go through the lengthy process of CMD, which many might find cumbersome.

Steps to use Aurora store

  1. After sideloading the Arora using CMD, open the app and allow installation from unknown sources.
    Sideloading app windows 11 1
  2. Now, log in with your Google Account to start downloading and installing apps.
  3. Choose your preferred app and click on the install button.
  4. It cannot get simpler than that. You get almost all the apps available on Google’s Play Store directly on your Windows 11 machine.

Download Aurora

How to uninstall a sideloaded Android app on Windows 11

  1. If for some reason, you wish to uninstall the Android app you installed, or there is a compatibility issue, then you easily uninstall it.
  2. Open the start menu and search for the control panel.
  3. After opening the control panel, look for the uninstall a program option.
    Sideloading app windows 11 4
  4. Now from the drop-down menu, choose the app you want to uninstall and click on it.
  5. Lastly, press the uninstall button in the top left corner, and it will uninstall the Android app from your Windows 11 PC.
    Sideloading app windows 11 3

As you can see, sideloading apps on Windows 11 with Command Prompt is relatively easy, and you can sideload literally any app with simple ADB commands. You can sideload mobile games, replace desktop apps like iTunes with Apple Music (finally!), and much more.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I sideload apps only on Windows Insider Preview?

Since Microsoft is still testing the Android subsystem in the Windows 11 beta channel, you can currently only sideload apps if you are using the Insider preview version. However, you can sideload the Android subsystem on Windows 11 Stable (guide coming soon) and your favorite apps without having to switch to the beta channel.

2. What are the minimum requirements for the Windows subsystem for Android?

The minimum requirements for subsystem are as follows.

  • Windows 11 22000 or higher
  • Minimum 8GB RAM, 16GB recommended
  • CPU should support Windows Subsystem

As of writing this guide, it’s available only for Windows Insiders (beta channel) for now.

3. Are all Android apps compatible with Windows 11?

Unfortunately, no. Since Windows 11 does not have Google services, some apps might not work as intended because they require Google services. Also, other apps might have compatibility/crash issues because they are not fully optimized for Windows 11. However, we expect support to improve over time.

4. Should I disable the developer settings option after sideloading the app?

Well, there is no harm in leaving the developer settings enabled. But you can disable it if you want to, and it will not affect the Android app you just sideloaded.

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