In this article, we’ll guide you on how to open APK file. You might want to know what is .APk file extension and how to open it on PC Windows, Android & Mac. Owners of smart devices often come across a file and they have no idea what it is or how to use it. An example files with the .apk extension. It is important that you know how to open, and edit this type of file, especially if you plan to download third-party apps.
You also need to understand how this package operates on the different operating systems so that the next time you come across it, you know exactly what you need to do. At the end of this article, you will know what an APK file is and what it contains, as well as how to open it on your device.
- 1 What is APK File Extension
- 2 F.A.Q
- 2.1 1. What is an APK file?
- 2.2 2. How do I check if an APK file contains malware?
- 2.3 3. How do I know the difference between APP and APK?
- 2.4 4. How Do I install an APK file?
- 2.5 5. Can I install APK files that are restricted in my country?
- 2.6 6. How do I create APK files?
- 2.7 7. How do I view the APK contents?
- 2.8 8. What is the size restriction for APK file?
- 2.9 9. How do I upload APK files that are larger than 100mb?
- 3 Conclusion
What is APK File Extension
The term APK stands for Android Package kit and files with the APK extension are an archived package containing all the codes and assets required for an application to be installed and run smoothly on an android device. This includes games, applications, tools, etc. Even though it appears as a single file, it is actually an archive with tiny bits and pieces. The files can be used to upgrade and downgrade an app to different versions.
Essentially, every application run on an android is installed and upgraded through its .apk file, however, you might not see this file version for all your apps. This is because some of the files are either hidden and automatically installed the moment they are downloaded on your device.
What .APK File Includes
Haven’t established that an apk file is a package, there are standard contents you would see when you open an apk file as you will learn further in this article. Regardless of the app and its developer, these elements are required for the file to function and qualify as an app.
When you open the file, you see these contents in the form of images, videos, texts, codes, and audios, etc. all of which carry their unique extensions that show what app is needed to open them individually.
Each of these is categorized as follows:
- Meta inf: The meta.inf folder usually consists of information about the app (metadata). Most files within it are in text format because they are basically descriptive.
- mx: The metadata of the application is contained here. Things like the application name, the version of the application, the amount of security and authorization required by the app. It also tells you about what programs, systems, and apps that are used to properly perform its operations.
- sf: The Cerf.sf is related to the manifest.mx because it contains the cryptographic hash (SHA-1 digest) function of the different detailed contained in the manifest.mx.
- rsa: Cert.rsa contains encoded keys (public and private keys) that can be used to verify the signature of cert.sf. it also contains data on the certificate of the app like the issue date, the series, etc. Usually, the public key in this file can be decoded and used to confirm the digital signature as stated above while the private key cannot be decrypted.
- Lib: The Lib contains the app’s codes that enable it to run on the different platforms/processors of your equipment. In this list, any processor’s code that is missing or damaged can affect whether or not the app will be able to install and run on your device. Therefore, the lib is split into a list according to the compiled codes for compatible processors.
- X86: the code required for the app to be installed and run on an x86 processor.
- X86_64: the code required for the app to run on an x86_64 processors.
- Armeabi: Armeabi is the code required for the app to be installed and run on ARM-based processors.
- armeabi-v7a: this is the code required for the app to be installed and run on armv7 and above processors.
- Arm64-v8a: This is the code required for the app to be able to run on ARMv8 arm64 and above processors.
- Mips: Mips is the code required for the app to be able to run on a MIPS based processor.
- Res: The Res folder holds details about the resources that are not included in the resources.arc folder. Details like the colour value for the app.
- Assets: This folder contains the app’s assets and it can also be located in the asset manager file of your device in case you need to retrieve it.
- Android manifest.xml: The contents of the android manifest.xml file is not readily readable by anyone and needs to be converted to plain text format because it is displayed in a binary format. The information includes the rights, the reference library files, etc.
- dex: This folder contains the developer’s code that has been written in the Dex file format. It is possible to see different versions of this folder, each separated by a number attached to the name, e.g. classes2.dex and this is an example of when the developer must have written the code in a multidex format.
- arsc: As the name suggests, this file contains the app resources. Any resource that is not here is placed in the res folder.
How to Open APK File on Android
In some cases, you might need to manually install your downloaded application and for that, you need to locate the apk file on your device. You might also want to access some of the data contained in the file, and knowing how to open an apk file on your android will help you in times like this.
Usually, the apk file is located in your device’s file manager, where you can get access to it. There are instances when you will realize that a downloaded app will not install even after you have located the apk file. This is as a result of restrictions placed by your device which by default blocks out unauthorized apps from installing.
This can be changed through the general settings of your device. It might either be in your security settings or your application settings, you then need to find a box that indicates that you can install unknown apps. After this, go back to your file manager and proceed to installation.
- Go to your Android Settings
- Click on Security
- Find the Unknown Sources option. Click and Enable it to install third-party APKs.
- Now Open APK file you want to install. Follow on-screen instructions and you will APK file installed on your android device.
However, because an apk is a packaged and zipped file, you might need to download a third-party app to allow you to open the file. A popular example of an app that does this is the ES File manager.
How to Open APK File on PC Windows
There are two things that can be done when you want to open an apk file on your windows; you might either want to view and edit its contents or you might want to install it and use it on your computer.
The .apk file format requires an android OS before it can be installed, so normally you would not be able to install an apk file on your PC Windows. Luckily, you have alternatives to make it possible.
Using an Android Emulator
What you need is the android emulator installed and running on your PC. This android emulator must be downloaded and installed as a PC software; Bluestacks is an advanced android emulator used for this purpose.
Double click on the downloaded file and it will launch the setup wizard to install Bluestacks on your windows device. Follow on-screen instruction and it will be installed in a few minutes.
After installing Bluestacks on your PC, you need to run it and then install the apk file via the software. Bluestacks also automatically recognizes all APK files so just double click on .APK file you want to open and it will launch automatically via Bluestacks. (Below are the two screenshot for different Bluestacks version)
Using Android SDK
For this, you will need to download an Android SDK package and install it. Afterward, you need to go to your advanced system settings on your device to edit the path under environment variables by entering the file path of Android from your C drive: ‘C:\Android\sdk\tools;C:\Android\sdk\platform-tools.’. this will be convenient for allowing you to install basic android apps but graphic intensive apps might not work properly.
Other ways you can open an apk file on your Windows device is using Nox App Player and so on.
How to View APK File Content
Now, if what you are interested in is not installed but rather to be able to access the components of the file, you will need to treat your apk file like a compressed file format. First, you need to change the file type to a .zip file or a .rar and then open it with the compatible file opener.
Converting your .apk file to a .zip file is easy, remember that ‘.apk’ is an extension name, all you need is to access the file properties and change this extension name to .zip then proceed to open with one of Win.RAR or Win.Zip or any archive file editor that you have.
How to open APK file on Mac
APK files are not compatible with Mac devices because they are built for the Android OS. This means that normally, you cannot install an apk on your Macbook. However, that does not stop you from opening the file to view its contents. The process is similar to how you open the .apk file on your Windows.
First, you need to convert the file to a readable zipped format. This means that your file needs to carry the extension name ‘.zip’. With this, it becomes just like any other zipped file that can be opened with 7-zip.
If you intend to run your application on your Mac, you can also make use of an Android emulator as you would with a Windows device; you download it, install it and then proceed to run your .apk file. If you don’t understand how exactly to do that, just follow the steps listed on the above Windows section.
How to Convert APK to ZIP
Normally, to convert a file on your device, you will need a file conversion tool or software, but with APK file, you do not have to go through the hassle. Apk files are already archived files that are in zip formats to enable them to run effectively for their intended purpose.
Therefore, you can look at renaming .APK extension to .ZIP as if you are giving it it’s right extension name to be able to convert it easily.
- Select the APK file you want to convert.
- Select the Rename option, change the extension from .APK to .ZIP and save it.
- Now you can open it as ZIP file.
Once in a while, people encounter conflicts while trying to understand what to do with the apk file on their device and if you have not found the solution to your problem, check these frequently asked questions for answers.
1. What is an APK file?
An apk file is the installation package for any application designed to run on an android device. Your device keeps a record of this which you can go back to reinstall or extract some data if need be.
2. How do I check if an APK file contains malware?
Unauthorized .apk file download is a hotbed for getting malware on your device, that’s why your phone’s default setting does not allow for their install. However, there is a lot of juicy apps that are not listed on the play store so you can decide to check your file for malware by scanning it through a third-party service. Some examples are Metadefender, Virus total, Nvisio, and so many others.
3. How do I know the difference between APP and APK?
An app stands for application is a running concept that operates as a whole entity while .apk is the installable format of the application. All the bits and pieces of the .apk file come together to make sense as a running app.
4. How Do I install an APK file?
Sometimes, apk files give you an automatic popup asking you to install it, especially when it is an authorized app. In the absence of this, you can click the .apk and hold to bring up more options for action, then choose to install the file. We have described the steps earlier in this article to open APK file on different devices
5. Can I install APK files that are restricted in my country?
A good number of amazing apps are region-restricted and that can be a bummer especially when you feel like you are missing out on some handy tech. You can use a VPN app to download these apps regardless. The VPN apps mask your VPN location and portray it as that which you selected to enable you to avoid this hassle.
6. How do I create APK files?
Google Android Studio can help you create your apk after you have written your code. The process for this is easy (you can write code so yup! You can do this), everything is self-explanatory since each stage is basically dialogue boxes for you to fill.
7. How do I view the APK contents?
Viewing the contents of your apk file is not the same thing as running the package which is the first prompt you often receive when you click on an apk file. How you open the file will vary according to your device, but an android device will need a device file manager app to allow you to gain access to the contents.
8. What is the size restriction for APK file?
Google has rules that all app developers have to abide by and one of them is the maximum size limit for apk files they design. The size restriction is 50mb, however, larger files usually come with an extension package for which 100mb is allowed.
9. How do I upload APK files that are larger than 100mb?
Maybe you overlooked the size restriction placed for play store and now your apk is too large and would not upload. You can simply make use of extension files to accommodate your extra MB.
At this point, you have the necessary information on how to navigate any .apk file across your devices. Understanding the contents and how to install them should be a breeze. While these files are designed for android devices, there are simple procedures that allow you to install them on Windows and Mac devices as well.
I hope this guide will help you achieve your aims in installing, converting and editing .apk files on your PC, Mac and mobile devices. Check out our social handles and follow us for more information.