What Is an APK File?

How to open, edit and convert APK files

This article describes what an APK file is, how to open or install it (it depends exactly on your operating system), and why converting one may not be useful.

What is an APK file?

A file with the APK file extension is an Android Package file that is used to distribute applications on Google’s Android operating system.

APK files are saved in ZIP format and are usually downloaded directly to Android devices, usually through the Google Play store, but can also be found on other websites.

Some of the content found in a typical APK file includes a AndroidManifest.xml, classes.dex, Y resources.arsc file; as well as a META-INF Y resolution case.

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How to open an APK file

APK files can be opened on various operating systems but are mostly used on Android devices.

Open an APK file on Android

To open an APK file on your Android device, you simply need to download it like any file and then open it when prompted. However, APKs installed outside of the Google Play Store may not install immediately due to a security block.

To bypass this download restriction and install APK files from unknown sources, access one of these menus, depending on your version of Android:

  • Settings > Apps and notifications > Advanced > Special access to the application > Install unknown apps
  • Settings > Apps and notifications
  • Settings > Security

Depending on your device, you may need to allow a specific app, such as Chrome, to install unofficial APK files. Or, if you see it, activate Install unknown apps either Unknown sources.

If the APK file doesn’t open, try searching for it with a file manager like Astro File Manager or ES File Explorer File Manager.

How to install APK files on Android

Open an APK file on Windows

You can open an APK file on a PC using an Android emulator (these are our favorites) like BlueStacks. In this program, go to the my apps tab and then choose install apk from the corner of the window.

How to use Bluestacks to run Android apps on Windows

Open an APK file on a Mac

ARC Welder is a Google Chrome extension for testing Android apps for Chrome OS, but it works on any operating system. This means that you can open an APK on your Mac or Windows computer as long as that app is installed in the Chrome browser.

Open an APK file on iOS

You can’t open or install APK files on an iPhone or iPad because the file is built in a totally different way than the apps used on those devices, and the two platforms aren’t compatible with each other. other.

Extracting APK files

You can also open an APK file on Windows, macOS, or any other desktop operating system, with a file extraction tool. (Try one of our best free decompression programs). Since APK files are simply files from various folders and archives, you can unzip them with a program like 7-Zip or PeaZip to see the different components that make up the app.

Doing this, however, does not actually allow you use the APK file on a computer. This requires an Android emulator (such as BlueStacks), which basically runs the Android OS on the computer.

How to convert an APK file

Although a file conversion program or service is usually needed to convert one type of file to another, they are not very helpful when it comes to APK files. This is because an APK file is an app designed to work only on specific devices, unlike other file types like MP4 or PDF that work on multiple platforms.

Instead, if you want to convert your APK file to ZIP, you’ll use the instructions explained above. Open the APK file in a file extraction tool, then repackage it as a ZIP or simply rename the .APK file to .ZIP.

Renaming a file like this is not the way to convert a file. This only works for APK files because the file format already uses ZIP, but just adds a different file extension (.APK) to the end.

As you read above, you cannot convert APK to IPA to use on iOS, or convert APK to EXE to use Android app on Windows.

However, you can usually find a working iOS alternative instead of the Android app you want to install on your iPhone or iPad. Most developers have the same app available on both platforms (an APK for Android and an IPA for iOS).

Instead of an APK to EXE converter, install a Windows APK opener above, then use it to open the Android app on your computer; it does not need to exist in the EXE file format for this to work.

frequent questions

  • Can APK files damage my device?

    Yes, unfortunately APK files can sometimes harm devices. In fact, they may contain malicious software. Therefore, it is recommended to run the APK files through an online antivirus before installing them. Download only from sites you know and trust to minimize the chance of an unauthorized program infecting your device.

  • Are APK files legal?

    It is perfectly legal to download APK files and use them to install apps outside of the Google Play Store. APK is just a file format like EXE or ZIP. Google developed the APK format, but anyone can create and use APK files.

  • How can I find APK files on my Android device?

    Locate the APK files on your device using a Android file manager to find the file. Some mobile devices come with a file manager preloaded, but many alternatives can be found on the Google Play Store.

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