how to open apk file header

Guide: How To Open APK File (Android/iPhone/Windows/Mac)

You are here:
By Ash Turner
As CEO of CompareMyMobile.com and BankMyCell.com since 2009, Ash has been a pivotal figure in the mobile tech industry. With a background in managing Brightstar’s PhoneRecycleBank, he boasts extensive experience with global carriers and MVNOs like T-Mobile and O2, and leading manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung.

Learn about our editorial process

| Updated on February 16, 2024
Fact Checked By
Joey Bobiles
Joey is adept at creating comprehensive comparison guides and product reviews for devices from brands like Apple, Samsung, and Google. His expertise extends to thorough evaluations of smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, MVNOs, and phone plans, all while simplifying intricate technical information into easily understandable content.

Learn about our editorial process

Edited By
Kim Juanillo
Kim, an editor with a rich background in digital content management and developmental psychology, brings a unique blend of analytical and creative skills to BankMyCell. With her background in Psychology, Kim is adept at understanding complex concepts and transforming them into engaging, accessible content.

Learn about our editorial process

  • What is an APK file? An APK or Android Package File can be used to install apps you can’t directly download on the Google Play Store.
  • Find out how to open an APK file on an Android device or Windows PC. Also, learn how to install APK files through this article.
  • Learn if you can open APK files on different Apple devices such as iPhones, iPads, or Macs.

SOLVED: How to Open APK Files on Your Device

Open APK on Android Phone or Tablet

  1. Enable Unknown Sources on Settings.
  2. Find the file you want to install.
  3. Select the APK file.
  4. Click Install.
  5. Open app.

Open APK on iPhone or iPad

APK files cannot be used on iPhones or iPads due to incompatibility with iOS.

Open APK on Windows PC

  1. Use an Android emulator like Bluestacks
  2. Launch Bluestacks
  3. Log in using your Google account.
  4. Use the search bar to find the app.
  5. Click Install

Open APK on Mac

  1. Install Bluestacks Android emulator.
  2. Open Bluestacks
  3. Log in using your Google account.
  4. Use the search bar to find the app.
  5. Click Install

What is an APK File?

apk icon

An Android Package Kit, commonly known as APK, contains all the necessary data and files for an Android application. It is packaged as a single file and allows users to install an app on their Android device, such as a phone or tablet, without downloading it from the Play Store.

Files in APK format can be useful for various reasons. For instance, they enable users to download the latest updates for an application even if their carrier is blocking or delaying the update.

Additionally, in cases where a phone is outdated and cannot directly install a particular application, an APK can provide a version of the app that is compatible with the phone’s specifications. You can download APK files on sites like APKPure, APKMirror, APK Downloader, Aptoide, and FDroid.

How To Open APK Files on PC?

open apk file on windows

BlueStacks:

You will need an Android emulator to open APK files on a Windows PC. There are many emulators out there that you can use, such as:

Made by a technology company in the US, this is an emulator that you can use on various platforms for free. It is like a virtual Android phone that you run on other devices, particularly a computer.

  • Launch BlueStacks > Click Let’s Go.
  • Sign in using your Google account > Finish the initial setup.
  • Open the Play Store on the emulated Android screen.
  • Find the application you want to download on the search bar.
  • Select the app > Click Install.
  • After installation, click Open.

7-Zip:

This file extractor tool can store and open compressed files or archives, including APK apps. Simply follow these steps:

  • On your files, right-click on the APK that you want to open.
  • After that, open Archive.

Google Android SDK:

This software development kit from Google is specifically made for the Android system, and one of its functions is to open and install an APK file through these steps:

  • Open Android SDK Manager > Select Tools > Choose the Android SDK Manager option.
  • The Android SDK Manager window will open > On the window, select Install APK.
  • Select the APK file you want to install > Click Install.

WinRAR or WinZip:

Both these software specialize in opening compressed files in zip format (.exe file format), including APKs. Follow these steps:

  • Right-click to open the APK file.
  • Choose Extract Here using WinRAR.
  • Or Extract to [filename] using WinZip.
  • The contents of the APK file will be extracted to a folder, allowing you to access the individual files.

How To Open APK Files on Mac?

open apk file on mac

BlueStacks:

You might think APK files can only be opened on Android OS, but there is also a way to open them on Mac. Here are some ways to open an APK file on Mac:

BlueStacks is an Android emulator for Mac that allows you to run Android apps on your computer. To open an APK using BlueStacks, follow these steps:

  • Launch BlueStacks > Click Let’s Go
  • Log in using your Google Account > Click Next.
  • Open the Play Store on the emulated Android screen.
  • Look for the Android app you want to download on the search bar.
  • Select the app > Click Install.
  • After installation, click Open.

Nox App Player:

Nox App Player is another popular emulator that allows you to run APK files on your computer. Here’s how you can open an APK file using Nox App Player:

  • Launch Nox App Player > Complete the initial setup.
  • Find the file you want to open on your Mac.
  • Drag and drop the file onto the Nox App Player interface.
  • Nox App Player will automatically install the app from the APK file and make it available on your Mac.

How To Open APK Files on Android Devices?

open apk file on android phone

When using Android devices, an APK file may not install right away due to the security block put in place by Google. So to download apps, you must first bypass this restriction by enabling unknown sources in your gadget and then install the APK file. This is a way to install “unknown apps” on your device.

Follow these steps to open an APK on Android:

  • Enable Unknown Sources: Go to the Settings app of your Android device > Open Security or Privacy > Enable the Install Unknown Apps or Unknown Sources option.
  • Locate the File: After installing unknown apps and downloading the APK file onto your device, use a file manager app like Google Files to locate the file. You can usually find downloaded files in the Downloads folder.
  • Open the APK File: Tap on the file to start the installation process > A confirmation prompt will appear > Click Install.
  • Install the App: The Android system will begin installing the app from the APK file. It may take a few moments to complete the installation process.
  • Open the App: Once the installation is finished, you can find its icon in your app drawer or home screen > Tap on the app icon to launch it and start using the application.

Nox App Player:

Nox App Player is another popular emulator that allows you to run APK files on your computer. Here’s how you can open an APK file using Nox App Player:

  • Launch Nox App Player > Complete the initial setup.
  • Find the file you want to open on your Mac.
  • Drag and drop the file onto the Nox App Player interface.
  • Nox App Player will automatically install the app from the APK file and make it available on your Mac.

How To Open APK Files on iPhone/iPad?

Opening or installing APK files directly on an iOS device like an iPhone or iPad is not feasible. They are specifically created for the Android operating system, making them incompatible with iOS.

However, it is possible to open APK files on Windows and Mac using emulators. On Apple devices, the counterpart to these files is IPA (iOS App Store Package), which is the appropriate file format for applications on iPhones and iPads. Therefore, if you have an iOS device, you should look for the corresponding IPA file to install and use the desired app from the App Store.

If you come across an APK file and want to use that specific app on your iPhone or iPad, go to the App Store and search for the app. Android software developers normally release separate versions of their apps for Android and iOS, so you should be able to discover the software you need in the software Store and install it from there.

Note that Apple devices have stricter security measures, and apps can only be installed from the official App Store to ensure their safety and compatibility with iOS.

Conclusion

APK files are a convenient way to access and install Android applications when you can’t directly download them on the Google Play Store, whether due to an outdated device or other limitations. When using an Android phone or tablet that can’t download Android apps, you must enable unknown sources first to install Android APK files easily.

For a Windows PC or Mac, you can use an Android emulator like Bluestacks to install them on your device. It’s important to note that while you can install APK files on a Mac, other Apple devices like iPhones and iPads do not support installing these items.