How to Sideload Apps on Android TV (Guide)

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Written By Larious

Larious is the Executive Editor of LowkeyTech. He is a tech enthusiast and a content writer. 





Last Updated on March 29, 2019 by Larious

Google launched its Android TV platform way back in 2014, and in the years that have followed, it has grown quite a bit. Major manufacturers around the world are making Android TVs, and a lot are making Android TV powered set top boxes, to add Android TV functionality to your standard TV. These boxes are actually quite powerful for the price they come in at. Take for example, the Mi Box that we’re using.

This little box costs $69, and can stream 4K HDR video to any 4K HDR capable TV. However, in the 3 years that Android TV has been out, there haven’t been a lot of apps designed with the Android TV interface in mind, which is why the Android TV Play Store has a lack of apps. However, the usual Android apps not available on the Android TV Play Store can still run on your Android TV, if you were to sideload them. So, without any further ado, here’s how to sideload apps on Android TV:

Sideload Apps on Android TV using USB Flash Drive

One of the easiest ways to sideload apps on your Android TV is by using a flash drive. You just need to copy the APK file for the app you want to install into the USB flash drive, and then plug it into your Android TV. To do this, just follow the steps given below:

  • On your Mac, or PC, download the APK file for the app you want to sideload. You can use websites such as APKMirror for this. We’ll be sideloading “Google Chrome” for this tutorial. Once the APK is downloaded, copy it into a USB drive.
  • Plug the USB drive into the Android TV box, and launch ES File Explorer. Here, locate the USB drive you plugged in, and open it.

  • Navigate to the location where you saved the APK file, and simply click on it to begin installing it on your Android TV.

That’s basically it. You have now successfully sideloaded Google Chrome onto your Android TV using a USB drive. If, for some reason, you’re unable to use a USB drive to sideload apps, you can use an FTP server, along with ES File Explorer, to sideload apps on an Android TV. We’ll discuss that next.

Sideload Apps on Android TV using FTP

1. Sideload Apps on Android TV using Mac

Sideloading apps on an Android TV is not a very difficult task. All you need is a file explorer on your Android TV that can connect to FTP servers, and an FTP Server running on your Mac. Both of these can be achieved quite easily. Just follow the steps below:

  • On your Android TV, launch the Play Store, and install ES File Explorer.

  • Once done, launch Terminal in your Mac, and type the command “sudo -s launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ftp.plist“. This will launch an FTP server on your Mac.

  • Press and hold “option”, and click on the WiFi icon in the menu bar to view the IP address of your Mac. You will need this to connect to your FTP server from ES File Explorer.

  • On your Android TV, launch ES Explorer, and go to Network -> FTP.

  • Click on “New”, select “ftp”, and add the details for your FTP server, as follows:
    Server: The IP address of your Mac
    Username: Mac’s login username
    Password: The login password for your Mac

  • You can now download APK files for the apps you want on your Mac, then go to the download destination from ES File Explorer, and simply install the app from there.

2. Sideload Apps on Android TV using a Windows PC

If you’re using a Windows PC, you will have to use a third party application for creating a FTP server on your PC. The process can be a little complicated, so, here are all the steps for the sake of simplicity:

  • Download and install FileZilla Server on your PC. Once FileZilla is installed click on “Edit”, and then on “Users”.

  • Go to “Shared Folders“, and click on “Add”, under “Users”.

  • Enter the username you want the FTP client to log in with.

  • Next, click on “Add” under “Shared Folders“.

  • Select the directory you want to share over FTP. I’d recommend using a folder specifically for FTP purposes.

  • Click on “OK”. Your FTP server is now set up.

NoteYou may need to disable your Firewall, if you’re unable to connect to your FTP server from the same network.

Next, we need to connect our Android TV, with the FileZilla server on our PC. Simply follow the steps below:

  • On your Android TV, launch ES Explorer, and go to Network -> FTP.

  • Click on “New“, select “ftp“, and add the details for your FTP server, as follows:
    Server: The IP address of your PC. You can find this by running “ipconfig” in the Command Prompt.
    Username: The username you created while setting up the Users in FileZilla.
    Password: Leave this blank

  • On your PC, you can download the APKs, and save them to the folder you set up in “Shared Folders” in FileZilla. Then, simply open the FTP server in ES File Explorer, and install the app from the APK.

Note: You will need to allow installation from “Unknown Sources” on your Android TV, to be able to sideload apps.

SEE ALSO: 15 Best Apps for Android TV You Should Be Using

Sideload and Run any Android App on your Android TV

The Android TV Play Store has a dearth of TV compatible apps. So, unless you sideload apps on your TV, a lot of great apps will be missed out. Even apps like Google Chrome, Skype, and Google Drive aren’t available in the Android TV Play Store. While you can install almost any Android app on your Android TV by sideloading it, a lot of apps don’t behave properly. For example, you won’t be able to click on links in Google Chrome, because there’s no cursor available there. However, you can pair a Bluetooth keyboard, and mouse with your Android TV, and use that to navigate around the interface.

As always, we would like to know your thoughts on Android TVs, as well as the lack of apps in the TV Play Store. Also, if you know of an easier way to sideload apps on your Android TV, do let us know about it, in the comments section below.


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