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How to Use ADB Commands to Install APK on Android Devices

Google Play Store has millions of apps and games that can be installed directly on an Android device. However, not all apps find a place in the Play Store due to policy compliances. Also, there are apps that are not available to all users because of geographical restrictions. Sometimes, app developers provide the APK file of their apps for trial before uploading them to the Play Store. In all such situations, you’ll need to download and install Android apps on your device manually. In this tutorial, we’ll see how we can install APK using ADB commands and sideload apps on Android devices.

Using ADB to Install APK on Android Devices

ADB or Android Debug Bridge is a neat command-line tool for Android that can perform not only simple tasks but very complicated ones also. It works like a bridge between your Android device and your PC. There are a wide array of ADB commands that you can use to control your device and make changes to it right from your computer. Being cross-platform tools, you can set up ADB and Fastboot on Windows, macOS, and Linux. Once you have set up ADB and Fastboot on your PC, go to your phone settings and enable USB Debugging from the Developer options.

Let’s jump to the steps to install APK on Android devices via the ADB command.

  1. Download Android SDK Platform tools on your computer and unzip the downloaded file.
  2. Copy or move the APK file you want to install to the platform-tools folder. In my case, I plan to install GBWhatsapp_Dec.apk on my phone.
  3. Now, right-click on an empty space in the platform-tools folder window and select “Open command window here“, “Open PowerShell window” or “Open in Terminal” option depending on the Windows OS version.open terminal window in adb platform tools folder
  4. Alternatively, you can also type “cmd” or “powershell” in the folder address bar to open a command window with the folder path.open powershell window with folder path
  5. Go to Settings > Display > Screen timeout and set it to 5 or 10 minutes. Just keep in mind that your phone must not be locked while you execute the ADB commands.
  6. When the Command Prompt or PowerShell is launched, type adb devices in the command window and press the Enter key to check if your phone is connected.adb devices command windows powershell
  7. If you get a pop-up on your phone asking to Allow USB debugging, select Allow.allow usb debugging on android
  8. If your Android device is detected by ADB, it will show a string of alphanumeric values in the command window. In case your Android device is not connected problem, you must troubleshoot the ADB and Fastboot error first.
  9. In case everything is fine, just execute the ADB command to install APK Don’t forget to replace the name of the APK with the name of the name you want to install..
    adb install GBWhatsapp_Dec.apk

    adb install apk command windows 11

    ADB install APK Windows 11

  10. The APK will be installed on your Android device. That’s it!

ADB Install Command Options

We just saw how we can install a single app package or APK using the adb install command. Apart from the command mentioned above, there are several variables that you must be aware of.

Install Multiple APK Files using ADB

If you want to install multiple APK files at the same time using ADB, you can use the adb install-multiple command followed by the names of the APK file as shown below.

adb install-multiple yourapp.apk yourapp2.apk yourapp3.apk

There is one more variation of the adb install-multiple command that lets you push multiple APKs to your Android device and install them automatically.

Re-install an Existing App

If you have already installed an app on your device and want to replace the existing version with another version or simply re-install the app, you can use the following command. The command only reinstalls apps without wiping the app data.

adb install -r yourapp.apk

Install App to SD Card

You can use this command if you want to install an app to the SD card of your Android phone. The app must support the move to SD card feature for this to work.

adb install -s yourapp.apk

Install an App and Grant all Permissions

The following command installs an APK and makes your device grant all permissions at once.

adb install -g yourapp.apk

ADB Uninstall App Command

You can easily uninstall apps from your Android phone using the adb shell pm uninstall command. See the examples given below.

Uninstall an app and clear the app data

pm uninstall --user 0 <app package name>

Uninstall an app but keep the app data

pm uninstall -k --user 0 <app package name>

Please note that you must use the package name of an app (not the APK name) to uninstall it. For instance, if you want to uninstall the Google Photos app, you need to type “com.google.android.apps.photos” as the package name. For more detailed information. please read or detailed explanation of ADB Shell commands.

Install APK from SD Card via ADB

If you have saved the APK file on the internal storage or SD card, you can install it using the ADB command given below. You need to add the full path of the APK file right after the adb install command.

adb install full_path_to_apk

Sideloading APK on Android Devices

Installing APK files via ADB is not the only way to install an app on Android devices. Because of its open-source nature, The Android OS supports sideloading of apps manually. So, if you got the APK for an app that’s not available in the Play Store, you can sideload it easily by following the quick steps described below.

  1. Download the APK file and transfer it to your phone’s storage. In case you downloaded the APK file directly onto your Android device, you navigate to the Downloads folder using a file manager.
  2. Tap on the APK file you want to install.
  3. You’ll see a warning pop-up asking you to give installation permission for apps from Unknown sources.
  4. Grant the permission and tap the back button to get back to the app installer.
  5. Now, select the Install option.sideload apk on android
  6. The app will be installed on your phone.

If you want to sideload multiple APKs or an app bundle containing files with AAB, APKs, APKM, and XAPK extensions, you can use a great app named AppDash: App Manager & Backup.

I think I have covered all manual methods to install APK on Android devices. Now, you know how you can install APK via ADB command or sideload an app. Try the adb install command and its variations and let me know if they worked for you.

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