Windows 11 supports Android apps, but there is a very big advantage – they are only officially available from the Amazon Appstore. The good news is that you can sideload Android apps on Windows 11. We’ll walk you through the process.
The bad news is that loading apps on Windows 11 is not as easy as it is on Android devices. We will need to dip our fingers into ADB (Android Debug Bridge) and run some commands in Windows Terminal.
Related: How to install Android apps on Windows 11
What will you need
Before we get started with sideloading, there’s a little you’ll need. If you already have the Amazon App Store running and want more apps, you can skip this section.
Most importantly, you must be on the Windows Insider Beta channel, version 22000.282 or higher. Here’s how to switch between channels – but beware, the beta channel isn’t completely stable and we don’t recommend using it on your primary computer.
Then, your Windows 11 PC must have hardware virtualization enabled. Windows 11 basically runs Android in a virtual machine, which is why this is important. You can check if your computer has virtualization enabled by going to the Performance tab in Task Manager. (You can press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.)
If hardware virtualization is not enabled, you may need to enable Intel VT-X in your computer’s UEFI firmware (BIOS). If your system has AMD hardware instead, look for AMD-V in your computer’s UEFI firmware settings.
If you have all of these things, you are ready to go! Now is the time to restart your computer before we go any further, just to make sure everything is applied correctly.
First, set up ADB
The key to sideloading Android apps in Windows 11 is ADB (Android Debug Bridge). Without ADB, Windows and Android file system cannot talk to each other. This means that there will be no way to insert the APK file into the Android file system. Let’s change that.
We have outlined the steps for setting up ADB on your Windows machine in a dedicated directory. For our purposes, just follow the instructions in step one, you will get the appropriate files downloaded and ready for sideloading apps.
Related: How to install ADB, Android Debug Bridge Utility
How to sideload Android Apps
First, you will need an APK file to install. A reliable source for APK files is APKMirror.com. Pay attention to the type of file you are downloading. We want an APK package, not an app package. Remember where to put the downloaded APK file.
Next, open “Windows Subsystem for Android” from the Start Menu. You can simply search for it by name to find it.
In the Windows subsystem for Android, switch to Developer Mode.
Next, we need to find the IP address of the Android instance. To do this, open Files from the Windows subsystem of Android. After opening it, click on “Update” for “IP Address”. Do not close the Files application.
Now we can open ADB and start sideloading. Launch Command Prompt from the Start menu and change the directory to where you unzipped the platform tools. You can do this by entering the command below, and replacing the file destination with one of your own:
CD C:Program Filesplatform-tools
Next, we will connect to the Android instance. Enter the command below, using the IP address that appeared earlier.
adb connect [IP address]
The next step is to install the APK. Use the command below and replace the destination path of the APK file you downloaded earlier (keep the quotes).
adb install "C:UsersjoefeDownloadscom.shiftyjelly.pocketcasts.apk"
If all goes well, you will see ‘Success’ and the app will be available in the Start Menu!
Repeat the same process for any app or game that you don’t find in the Amazon Appstore. Keep in mind that Google apps may not work properly if they are sideloaded, as they sometimes require additional services. Other than that, you should be able to get any Android app up and running in Windows 11.
Related: Here’s how Android apps work on Windows 11