An APK file is the final product that is produced after developing an Android app. It goes with the .apk extension and is also known as Android Application Package. It’s similar to an .exe file that is used to install Windows Programs. Now, as you might know (or not), it’s not an easy task to extract this APK file from an app. It might be easy if your phone is rooted but not so much if you’ve got non-rooted Android device. Well, the truth is it’s not as tough as you might have thought. Today, I’ll show you a few methods through which you can extract the APK of an installed app on your phone.
Disclaimer: It is illegal to extract the APK of a paid Android app. If you do so then you yourself will be responsible for it. This guide has been written with the soul purpose to share knowledge of extracting APK for education purposes. We don’t support piracy.
Method 1: Using an Advanced File Explorer
As mentioned above, if your device has root access then you can use an advanced file explorer that allows you to browse root folders. Generally, the installed apps are found in “/data/apps“. So, from here you can simply copy the APK files and paste it wherever you want. However, you can also extract APK of installed apps using an advanced file explorer on a non-rooted Android phone.
We’ll be using here ES File Explorer for that. You can use any other file manager app if you want but do make sure it allows you to backup installed apps. Yes, that’ll be the key thing here that will help us extract the APK.
The steps are simple. Open ES File Explorer and tap on “App” in the home page of the app, as shown in below screenshots. Now, long tap on the app that you want to extract the APK of and tap on the “Backup” option available at the bottom.
The app will be backed up with the extracted .apk file. You’ll find the APK file in a folder named “Backup” in your internal storage. IF you find this method simpler, the next method is even easier.
Method 2: Download the APK Extractor App
Well, what about an app that can extract APK? Well, the APK Extractor app works exactly as its name suggests. Download the app from Play Store and install it.
The working of the app is very simple. The home page of the app shows you all the system and third party apps on your phone. You can just search for the app you want to extraxt the APK of. Then, just tap on the app an that’s it. The APK will be extracted and saved in the folder called “ExtractedAPKs” in your device’s internal storage.
In the app settings, you can change the destination folder of the extracted APKs. You can also set the name format. For instance, you can set the APK files to first have the App name and then the package name. You can also add the app version in the name for better understanding. Apart from that, you can even set up automatic backup of APKs if you want. It’s all available in the settings.
Also, there is an option available for you to share the APK to others using the app itself. Just, tap on the drop-down icon next to the app and you’ll get the option to share it. The app will first extract the APK and then the share panel will pop up. You can then choose the app through which you’d like to share the APK.
Method 3: Extracting APK Using ADB
Well, if you’re an Avid Android User or an Android developer then you must be knowing about ADB. The Android Debug Bridge is basically a command line utility that is available with Android SDK, which allows you to control your phone and manage files inside your storage using different commands. It can access the root folders easily as the main purpose is for debugging.
So, with a few set of commands, you can easily extract APK to our PC or Mac in the desired folder. Now, if you’re not much aware of ADB then you might be thinking that is Android SDK necessary for ADB to work? Well no, it’s not. In fact, Google provides a separate package of platform-tools that contains the ADB. You can download it from here.
After you have downloaded the tools, just extract the zip and open the folder. You’ll find adb.exe file in the folder along with fastboot (we’ll not be using it). Now, press Shift and right click in the folder to get the option for “Open command window here” in the right-click menu.
Next, connect your phone to the PC or Mac via USB cable and make sure USB debugging is turned ON in the Developer Options. Now, follow the commands given below.
We’ll first check if the device is connected to your computer or not. Enter the following command:
Next, we’ll grab the app package name. If you already know the package name then you can skip this step. Enter the following command.
adb shell pm list packages
Now, just copy the package name that you’d like to extract. And paste it in the next command. Don’t copy ‘package:’ prefix along with it. Enter the following command. Here, I’m extracting .apk of Truecaller.
adb shell pm path com.truecaller
The above command will give you the path of the actual APK of the app. Now, you just have to perform a pull command to pull the .apk from this path and store it to our desired location. Make sure you copy the path of the desired location and paste it in the below-given command. Also, copy the path of the actual .apk that we got as result in the previous command.
adb pull /data/app/com.truecaller-1/base.apk path/to/desired/location
The .apk file should now be stored in your desired location.
Best Ways to Extract APK of Android Apps
No matter what reason it might be for you to extract an APK; make sure you support the developers, as they deserve to be rewarded for their hard work. Talking about the best way, it’s surely the second method. The APK extractor is basically performing the same Shell commands that we performed in ADB. So, it’s the best way for sure. However, if you know any other method then do mention it down in the comments.