Have you been meaning to learn how to sideload Android apps on your Chromebook without the developer mode enabled? You’re certainly headed in the right direction. In this guide, we’ll show you the ins and outs of what it means to sideload applications and how one can accomplish this without depending on the ChromeOS developer mode.
Chromebooks are known for their innate ability to host and showcase various apps and processes from different sources. These sleek devices benefit from the convenience posed by the Google Play Store and the Linux terminal, featuring high-quality desktop-grade apps. Other than that, the Chrome Web Store is also a worthy option to look toward.
For now, though, let’s talk about what sideloading truly is and how you can get the ball rolling on your Chromebook. In the meantime, check out these top 10 Android apps on ChromeOS.
- Recommended read: How to install the Steam alpha app on compatible Chromebooks.
What is meant by sideloading Android apps?
We’ve already covered the subject of sideloading apps on a Chromebook, but the methodology involved in that write-up heavily revolves around the ChromeOS developer mode. The latter is a huge turn-off when it boils down to the device’s overall security.
As soon as you flip that switch and boot into the dev mode, your Chromebook loses the ability to perform a self-verification scan every time it starts up. Doing so consistently rids the system of any pertinent viruses or malware. After all, it is security-centric features like these that allow ChromeOS the feat of never getting hit by ransomware, ever.
So, what is sideloading? This term has multiple meanings, with one insinuating the transfer of files from one medium to another. However, to speak about sideloading in terms of the existing context here, the functionality differs from the previous definition.
The Google Play Store, Linux, and Chrome Web Store—are all authenticated sources from where you can download and install apps and games. Still, the process is known as sideloading when downloading APKs from the internet using third-party sources and installing them on your Chromebook.
Usually, Android smartphones do not have to be rooted to install APKs. You have to flip a short switch to allow your phone to download files from unverified sources, and that’s it. On ChromeOS, on the other hand, the process is vastly different.
You first need to delve into the ChromeOS developer mode to start things off the right way. You can enable the dev mode on a Chromebook, but make sure you realize the consequences of this happening. One of them is the downgrade in the overall standard of ChromeOS security, not to mention an imminent Powerwash that wipes all data away.
Since there are multiple apparent downsides to doing this, people would want to opt for a method of sideloading apps that doesn’t require using the dev mode, primarily to retain the robust various protective mechanisms that Chromebooks employ.
Therefore, the purpose of this guide is to show you how to do just that without ever having to delve into the dev mode of ChromeOS at all. Keep on reading from the following section ahead, and you’ll know what’s needed to be done here.
- Related read: How to download and install APKs that are not on Google Play.
Sideloading Android apps without the ChromeOS developer mode
The ChromeOS developer mode is mainly frowned upon by casual individuals and first-time Chromebook users primarily because of the flinching security levels of the operating system. That’s why the need to sideload Android apps without this advanced feature is real, and thankfully, the workable method that gets this task done for us is even more real.
Easier said than done, the procedure is lengthy and time-consuming, but it’s nothing that a handy set of instructions can’t sort out for you. We’ll explain all you need to do to sideload Android apps on ChromeOS without relying on the developer mode.
The gist of it is that you have to follow three major steps for a successful implementation of this strategy. First, you’ll need to enable an ADB debugging process allowing you to download Android apps on your Chromebook without turning to developer mode. Doing that is quick and painless.
Once that’s over, the next step is to go forward with downloading the APK of the Android app that you want to sideload on your Chromebook. An APK is a file type and an acronym for “Android Package.” It’s an extension that denotes installable Android apps by compatible systems.
The last step pertains to the ever-fantastic ChromeOS Crostini Linux terminal and revolves around inputting multiple commands to help you finalize your Android app sideloading. All of this may seem pretty demanding, but take it from us that it’s no less than a cakewalk. Each of the three subsections will discuss these major parameters in complete depth.
1. Enabling Android Debug Bridge for allowing sideloading on ChromeOS
To start sideloading Android apps on your Chromebook without turning to developer mode, you’ll need to toggle on Android Debug Bridge (ADB). This specific functionality within your Chromebook will allow you to develop Android applications.
In other words, this makes sideloading APKs on the device possible without switching to developer mode. Deal with this quickly by heading to the “Settings” system app, entering the “Linux development environment” section, and enabling ADB debugging. Follow the instructions laid out below for a step-by-step tutorial.
1. The first step is to open the “Settings” app on your device. Feel free to use the launcher area or open it from the shelf if you have the utility pinned there.
2. After accessing “Settings,” click on “Advanced” in the sidebar to the left, followed by clicking on “Developers.” Once done, access the “Linux development environment” section next by clicking on it on the right-hand side of the screen. Check out the screenshot below for a visual explanation of this step.
3. After entering the dedicated Linux section on your Chromebook, the next step is to click on the “Develop Android apps” section, as shown in the image ahead.
4. Click the “Enable ADB debugging” toggle to enable the feature.
5. You will need to restart your Chromebook for the changes. Click on “Restart and continue” to proceed.
When your Chromebook is done with the reboot, a confirmation prompt will appear on the screen, confirming whether you want to enable ADB debugging. Say “Yes,” and you should have wrapped up the first step of this three-part procedure. Let’s get started with the second step straight away.
2. Fetching the Android app’s APK from the web
First, Chrome Ready strongly condemns the theft of any digital product. APKs online should only be downloaded for otherwise free applications on the Google Play Store.
Suppose you’re use case revolves around a specific free-to-use app that isn’t available in your country due to regional issues. In that case, you may as well safely download that application’s APK from the web to sideload it afterward. Plenty of dedicated online websites can help you grab APKs of your desired applications.
AndroidAPKsFree, APKMirror, and APKPure are to name a few, should you choose to be nudged in the right direction. Go ahead and grab an APK from any of these websites, but then again, make sure you’re doing it for free software.
Moreover, we highly recommend installing one of the best antivirus programs for your Chromebook—Avast Antivirus—for an added layer of protection against added threats and everything of the like. All you have to do is follow the on-screen instructions on the website as you search for your APK, and you’ll be all set to proceed.
- Just make sure to negate the different advertisements you may encounter while downloading the application. Consider using an ad blocker if you cannot stand the hassle associated with clingy adverts.
Now that you have the APK all to yourself let’s move on with the third and final step associated with sideloading apps on your Chromebook without turning to the developer mode.
3. Sideloading the app with ChromeOS Linux
At long last, you’ve arrived at the only remaining mountain to climb to achieve the objective at hand. Commence the concluding endeavor by moving the APK you downloaded on your Chromebook to the “Linux files” folder in your “Files” system app. This should be quick and easy to do, provided you follow the sample screenshot below.
As soon as the APK file has been transferred to the “Linux files” folder, the next step is to open the Linux terminal on your Chromebook.
To continue, type the following command into the command-line interface and press the “Enter” key. Doing so should prompt the terminal to install the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) functionality. Halfway into the installation, you must confirm your selection by pressing the “Enter” key.
sudo apt install adb
Next up, another command will be needed to be used, allowing you to start the debugging tool.
adb connect arc
Onto the final step now. Type in the following after going past the previous step, and you’ll have your Android app sideloaded on the Chromebook without ever having to mess with the developer mode in no time. Please be diligent that the term under the bracket in the command below reflects the name of the file you’ve got on your end.
If your current APK’s name is complicated, feel free to rename it to something more straightforward in the “Files” app. Once done, use the relevant name subsequently ahead.
adb install [filename].apk
Right after that, the APK will begin to sideload on your Chromebook, but it may take some time to do so, depending on the file size of the APK. However, there’s no need to worry because it will be successful moving forward once the process kicks off. The hard part is kicking things in motion.
As soon as you’re prompted that the installation was a success, head to the Chromebook launcher section to find the sideloaded Android app. The app icon for the APK should be there, allowing you to click on it and start up the application painlessly.
That’s all there is to learn about sideloading Android apps on your Chromebook without turning the developer mode on. We hope you’ve imparted helpful knowledge from the guide in question. It’s high time to wrap things up now.
Chromebooks are subject to world-spanning popularity thanks to their speed, simplicity, and their mechanical tendency to get things done no matter the obstruction in place. Over time, these devices have been upgraded to face any challenge head-on, whether running Microsoft Office files or downloading high-quality video editors like OpenShot.
In this guide, we’ve talked about getting around the demanding nature of the ChromeOS developer mode and sideloading Android apps on a Chromebook without relying on the feature. Do let us know if the guide has benefitted you in any way. As always, Chrome Ready wishes you good luck!
- Before you go: How to install Kdenlive on Chromebook.