How to Sideload Android Apps on Chromebook without Developer Mode

Following the recent announcement, Google has finally brought the ability to install Android apps on Chromebook without Developer Mode. This is truly great and path-breaking for both developers as well as the Chrome OS enthusiast community. You can finally install Android APKs on your Chromebook which are not available on the Play Store, and for that, you don’t have to sacrifice your security. So without any delay, let’s go ahead and learn how to sideload Android apps on Chromebook.

Note: Want to learn how to sideload Android apps on Android TV? Follow our linked guide to find out.

Sideload Android Apps on Chromebook without Developer Mode in 2021

Before we begin, make sure your Chromebook is updated to Chrome OS 86 or above. You can update your Chrome OS build from Settings -> About Chrome OS. Apart from that, note that you don’t need to move to any other update channel or Developer mode. The ability to sideload Android apps on Chromebook has already moved to the Stable channel.

Set Up ADB on Chromebook

1. Open Settings and turn on Linux (Beta) from the left menu. If you don’t know how to do it, follow our guide and learn how to set up Linux on Chromebook.

8 How to Install Android Apps on Chromebook Without Developer Mode

2. After setting up Linux, open Settings again and navigate to Linux -> Develop Android Apps -> Enable the toggle for ADB Debugging. Now, restart your Chromebook and an ADB prompt will come up after the reboot. Click on “Allow” and you are done.

Note: In case, ADB toggle is not turning on then you will have to reset your Chromebook. A similar thing happened with our machine and power washing the Chromebook resolved the issue.

How to Sideload Android Apps on Chromebook without Developer Mode

3. Now, open Terminal from the app drawer and execute the below command to install the ADB platform tools.

sudo apt-get install android-tools-adb -y

4 How to Install Android Apps on Chromebook Without Developer Mode

4. After the installation, run the below command to connect the Android system with Linux on Chrome OS. Remember, your Chromebook should be connected to a WiFi network for this to work.

adb connect

How to Sideload Android Apps on Chromebook without Developer Mode5. A window will instantly open up to “Allow USB Debugging”. Enable the checkbox for “Always allow” and then click on the “Ok” button. By now, you have successfully set up the base.

7 How to Install Android Apps on Chromebook Without Developer Mode

6. If you are getting an error saying “can’t connect to connection refused” then open Settings -> Apps on the left pane -> Google Play Store -> Manage Android Preferences -> System -> About Device. Click on “Build number” for 7-8 times continuously. It will enable the Developer Options.

developer options

7. Now, go back to the System page again and open Developer Options. Here, enable “ADB Debugging”.

enable adb debugging

8. If the Terminal shows “Permission Denied” or “Command Not Found” error then run the below command and then try again with the adb connect command mentioned above.

adb start-server

adb start server

Install Android APK on Chromebook

1. Now that you have set the foundation, go ahead and download the Android APK that is not available on the Play Store and move it to Linux files. For example, I have downloaded the Firefox APK to install on my Chromebook without Developer Mode.

Note: Rename the downloaded APK to something shorter, just so you can easily type it on the Terminal.

2 How to Install Android Apps on Chromebook Without Developer Mode

2. Open the Terminal and type the below command to sideload the Android app on Chrome OS. In your case, you will have to change the app name in place of firefox.

adb install firefox.apk

How to Sideload Android Apps on Chromebook without Developer Mode

3. If you are getting an error saying “more than one device/emulator” then run the command in the below syntax. Here, you need to change the firefox part.

adb -s emulator-5554 install firefox.apk

multiple emulator

4. Now, open the app drawer and you will find the Android app that you just installed. Keep in mind, the Android app is using its ART (Android Run Time) framework and not running in a Linux container. So, the performance is great and similar to other apps downloaded from the Play Store. Enjoy!

6 How to Install Android Apps on Chromebook Without Developer Mode

Install Any Android App on Your Chromebook

So that was our guide on how to sideload Android apps on Chromebook without Developer mode. While the solution is not that straightforward, it’s immensely helpful for geeks. Also, once you set up the ADB, you just have to download the APK, and then it can be installed via the adb install command.

So that was all from our side. If you want to learn more hacks about Chromebooks and Chrome OS then stay tuned with us as we bring some interesting guides for you in the coming days. As for now, we have covered the best Chrome OS apps and Chromebook games in detailed articles so check that out.

comment Comments 149
  • John Lucius says:

    How to update apk’s in Linux

  • fewett says:

    thanks , success on my chromebook, can install many item

  • Raisul Islam Ratul says:

    Does it work in chrome os flex?

  • Andrew Przelucki says:

    Excellent article and tutorial!! My Chromebook tells me to enable Developer Mode. I did, but it’s unsafe for the average user and unneeded. This here is what we need. I got it working quick and I don’t have to enable Developer mode. Sweet!!

  • jame8876 says:

    was wondering if once the apk is installed is it in the linux enviroment? no right so does that mean i shorten the size of the linux storage from 10 gb because i would like to gain back main space since i dont plan on useing this for anything other than installing apks

    • Arjun Sha says:

      It’s not installed in the Linux environment.

  • charles says:

    ADB Debugging is greyed out and says: “Turn on Chrome OS Developer Mode to enable ADB debugging”

  • hintzsche says:

    Why do i have to restart chrome os when i turn on ADB Debugging? Does it switch to developer mode after Restart? You shouldnt have to reboot if you stay on the same rig. It also says that you only turn off adb when you powerwash your device.

  • BENIGNO says:

    Hello, I installed microsoft office, a new version and a version from june 2020, in both cases, the app opens, but does not connects to the server and i cant use my account. Any way to fix this?

  • BENIGNO says:

    thank you, it works great in lenovo duet, for installing the ms office apps

  • James says:

    Satisfactory guide for sure, I like how the work arounds are there for errors. Cheers

  • Denis 96 says:

    Just turn on linux and adb debugging antd then, in the terminal write sudo apt-get install adb
    After that write adb connect arc
    And to install an app write adb install “%.apk”
    % meaning the name of the apk that you need to copy to Linux Files
    I think this is more straight-forward

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