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Chromebooks have come a long way since they were first introduced in 2011. Originally designed just to browse the web, most Chromebooks released since 2019 can now also run Android apps, opening up many more possibilities.
However, you may sometimes want to install an Android app that is not available on the Google Play Store. This process of manually installing apps from outside the Play Store is called “sideloading”.
In this guide, you will learn:
- How to check if your Chromebook supports Android apps
- Two methods to sideload apps without enabling Developer mode
- Using ADB on Linux
- Drag and drop APK file
- How to enable Developer mode to sideload apps
- What to do if an app is incompatible with your Chromebook
Before you can sideload apps, you need:
- A Chromebook released in 2019 or later that supports Android apps
- Use this list to check compatibility
- The APK file for the app you want to install downloaded on your Chromebook
Sideload using ADB on Linux
If your Chromebook meets the requirements above, you can sideload apps without needing to enable Developer mode.
Here are the steps:
- Go to Settings > Linux > Turn on
- Click Next, accept terms and restart
Install ADB tools
- Open Terminal app and run:
sudo apt install adb
- Allow USB debugging when prompted
- Connect your Chromebook and Android container:
adb connect chrome
- Install app by specifying APK file:
adb install name.apk
That’s it! The app will now appear in your app drawer.
Sideload by drag and drop
An even easier method is to simply drag and drop the APK file:
- Enable Linux if you haven’t already
- Open Files app and enable access to Linux files
- Drag & drop APK file into Linux files
- Right click on APK and click “Install”
Enable Developer Mode
If the methods above don’t work or you want more control, enable Developer Mode:
- Press Esc + Refresh + Power to enter Recovery Mode
- Press Ctrl + D to enable Dev Mode > Confirm by pressing Enter
In Developer Mode you can sideload apps by:
- Enabling ADB debugging
- Simply opening the APK file to trigger installation
Note: Developer Mode disables security features and erases data if switched off. Only use if necessary!
Troubleshooting App Compatibility
If an app doesn’t install or work properly, it may not be compatible with your Chromebook. Some things to try:
- Check if the app works on other Chromebooks
- Contact the developer
- Use web or Progressive Web App version if available
- Consider alternatives from the Play Store
While the Google Play Store offers the safest Android app experience on Chromebooks, sideloading can give you access to more apps. Just be careful before enabling Developer mode.
I hope this guide has helped you understand the various methods to manually install Android APK files on your Chromebook! Let me know if you have any other questions.