[Updated] You Don’t Actually Need Developer Mode to Install Offline Apks

Published by Jesse Afolabi on

android and small chrome


Following the debut of the Google Play Store on Chrome OS were some surprises that were unexpected. From app incompatibility to an inability to install apks offline and an initially unsupported Android file directory.

The ability to install apks outside of the Google Play Store is one of the primary features synonymous to the perceived freedom that Android is infamous for. It’s a characteristic that made it stand out of the competition in mobile space during its early days.

Moreover, It became customary for Android users to seek out alternate options when it came to how they got apps on their devices.

Enter Chrome OS

Generally speaking, I expected I’d be able to access the same functionalities that we had become accustomed to on traditional Android that ran on our phones. But alas, Google was bent on making it a tad bit difficult to install apks outside of the Play Store on Chromebooks. It’s such that you needed to enable developer mode (which effectively compromises your system’s security) before you were able to install an Android apk at will.

Google was bent on making it a tad bit difficult to install apks outside of the Play Store on Chromebooks.

Thankfully, though, things have changed for the better as you can now install apks without enabling developer mode.

A quick trip to the Android settings that can be found under the Google Play Store sub menu, within the main Chrome OS settings, will bring out a familiar settings layout. Proceed to enter the keywords “Install unknown apps” in the search bar and select it from the options.

Google Play Store setting
Google Play Store setting
Install unknown apps
Install unknown apps

Alternatively, you can proceed to the “Apps and notifications”, then “special app access” then “install unknown apps”.

As indicated in the image below, you’re presented with multiple possible directories through which you can install an Android app. Click and enable them as needed then you’ll be able to go to the said directory via the app you’d selected and install your offline apk.

Install unknown apps options

Were you able to successfully install the apks you need? Let us know in the comments!

Update 1: it appears that some people haven’t had much luck in setting it up. This is partly my fault cause I hadn’t mentioned that I was on the dev channel (v. 72.0.3623.3) with Android Pie 9.0 and I’ve only been able to try it out on my Pixelbook.

I should also mention that I had recently powerwashed my Pixelbook and my device was on developer mode prior to this. I will update my device to the latest developer build and update the article as needed.

Update 2: I’ve successfully updated my Pixelbook to the latest dev build (72.0.3626.30) and the feature appears to be working fine.

Update 3: According to WoKao353’s findings posted on the related Reddit post, the feature is currently in the works as indicated in the screenshot below. The comment appears to have been made by a developer familiar with the progress. As it appears, the feature isn’t widely available and my best conclusion is your mileage may vary depending on the device you own and the channel you’re on as this is clearly not a wide rollout.

Unknown apps

Source Via

Categories: Tips

Jesse Afolabi

I founded ItsChromeOS in 2018 to spread the word on the future of Chrome OS with a passionate team of enthusiasts. Care about Chrome OS Flex? We cover that too! ItsChromeOS isn't your average blogging space, it's a Chrome-first space for the everyone using Chrome OS. Support our vision here: donate.itschromeos.com


DaBiggestMinecraftBoss · May 15, 2019 at 3:03 pm

I’m on canary 76 and it won’t work so you’re wrong

    Jesse Afolabi · May 16, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    This article is 5 months old and covered a feature that’s apparently in development.

    Jesse Afolabi · May 16, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    Also, exercise due diligence by checking out our article sources wherever applicable. Thanks!

    Play play · May 25, 2019 at 8:23 am

    im on coral 74. is 76 a dev build?

Jesse Afolabi · October 30, 2020 at 10:10 pm

This article was covered in error and that’s why I subsequently updated it. The update is all the way at the top.

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