How to Sideload Apps on Android TV

Android TV is an excellent way to expand your streaming media capabilities. Android TV boasts a slick, easy-to-use interface and support for a variety of streaming media services. In addition, the platform has been adopted by a variety of devices, from top of the range to budget set-top boxes. This means that no matter how many zeros you have in your bank account, you can find an Android TV device that’s right for you.

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While Android TV supports a large number of apps including the likes of Netflix, YouTube, Spotify and even games, not every app is available on the platform. Fortunately, there is a way to get virtually any app up and running on your Android TV device. To do so, we’ll be utilizing a method commonly known as “sideloading,” which is a way of manually installing an app on your Android device.

Allow Installation of Apps from Unknown Sources

First, you’re going to need to lower your Android TV’s defenses by allowing the installation of apps from “unknown sources.” Normally, your Android device prevents you from installing apps that come from outside the Google Play Store as a security feature. We’ll be getting all of our apps from a trusted source, APK Mirror, so you don’t have to worry about any malware or malicious files sneaking onto your device.

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To allow installation of apps from unknown sources, you’ll have to jump into the Settings menu. To find it, use your remote to scroll down to the bottom row of your Android TV menu. Here you’ll see a cog icon; go ahead and select it. Next, scroll down and select “Security & Restrictions.” Finally, in the menu that appears, toggle “Unknown sources” to on. A dialog box will pop up warning you about the potential dangers of installing apps from unknown sources. Just dismiss it and you’re ready to go.

Download the APK to Your Computer and Upload It to Google Drive/Dropbox

For the next step, you’ll need to hop on a computer. Point your browser to APK Mirror. This site acts as a repository for free Android apps that appear on Google Play. APK Mirror is reputable and safe. Use the search bar to find the app that you want to install on your Android TV. For example, I searched for Private Internet Access VPN. Once you find what you’re looking for, download the app to your computer.

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When you download the app, the file will appear on your computer with the extension APK, which stands for Android Package. Take the file and upload it to a cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive.

Download & Install ES File Explorer

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Once you’ve uploaded the APK, you can jump back to your Android TV device. You’ll need to grab the APK you uploaded and download it to your Android TV box in order to install it. Unfortunately, at this point in time neither Dropbox nor Google Drive are supported by Android TV. So to get your APK, you’re going to need ES File Explorer, which does work with Android TV. Navigate to the Google Play Store, search for “ES File Explorer” and install it.

Install the App on Your Android TV Device

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Next, launch ES File Explorer. In the menu on the left, select “Network -> Cloud.” On the right side of the screen hit the button labeled “New.” Select the cloud storage provider you uploaded the APK to in the previous step. Once you input your credentials, simply find the APK file, and click on it to initiate the download to your Android TV device. Once the download has completed, a dialog box will pop up. From here, select “Install” to install the app to your Android TV device.

How to Launch Sideloaded Apps

It was a somewhat convoluted process, but we got there in the end. Now, where is the sideloaded app? Unfortunately, sideloaded apps do not appear in the Android TV launcher due to the fact that (technically) they’re unsupported. Fortunately, there are two ways to launch your sideloaded apps.

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Your first option is to navigate to “Settings” and select “Apps.” This will bring up a master list of all the apps installed on your Android TV device. Simply find the sideloaded app, click on it and select “Open.” If that sounds like a hassle, you can download an app called Sideload Launcher. Running this app on your Android TV will list all of the apps on your device, including ones you’ve sideloaded.

Are you planning on sideloading any apps on your Android TV device? If so, which ones? Let us know in the comments!

2 comments

  1. I can’t find this es file explorer on Google play, I tried another app called MI BOX APK installer and it works for installing APK from usb drive.

  2. TV-fans, thnx a lot…it works

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