How to Create an Android Emulator in Windows

Android Emulator

If you want to run an Android emulator in Windows, you have a few choices. You can configure the incredibly slow and difficult-to-use Android SDK. Or you could try the BlueStacks emulator, which is incompatible with many important apps and doesn’t provide an Android interface. But your best bet is create your own Android emulator that runs in a Window.

By creating a virtual machine that runs Android x86, a version of Google’s OS for computers with Intel/AMD processors, you can have the full Android experience in a window, complete with a desktop, navigation buttons and access to the Google Play store. 

To create your own Android emulator that runs under Windows:

  1. Download and install VirtualBox
  2. Download the latest version of Android x86 from android-x86.org. You will need the  live and installation iso. As of publish date, the latest available version was android-x86-4.2-20130228.iso.
  3. Launch VirtualBox.
  4. Click New. A dialog box appears with fields for the name and type of operating system.
    Click New in VirtualBox
  5. Enter “Android x86″ for name then select Linux and Other Linux under Type and Version and click Next.
    Enter Android x86 in the VirtualBox Emulator
  6. Select at least 1024MB of RAM and click Next when prompted for memory size. If you have 8GB of RAM or more in your computer, select 2048MB for the virtual machine.
    Select VirtualBox RAM
  7. Select Create a virtual hard drive  and click Create when prompted to choose a drive.
    Create Virtual Hard Drive for Your Android Emulator
  8. Select VDI  then click Next when prompted to choose a hard drive type.
    VirtualBox Select Hard Drive Type
  9. Select Dynamically allocated  or Fixed Size then click Next when asked what type of drive you want to use. A fixed size virtual hard drive will be a little faster, but will immediately eat up a certain amount of storage space on your  real-life storage drive. A dynamically allocated drive file will only use as much space as it needs and grow up to the amount you set. So, if you have a dynamically allocated 8GB drive but only use 2GB, the file will only take up 2GB of your hard drive.
    VirtualBox set hard drive type
  10. Select 8GB and click Create when prompted for storage size. You can choose a greater drive size if you plan to install a ton of apps, but otherwise, 8GB should be more than enough for your emulator. An icon for Android x86 appears in VirutalBox’s left window pane.
    Set Hard Drive Size to 8GB
  11. Right click Android x86 and select Settings.
    Select Settings in VirtualBox
  12. Set the video memory to at least 64MB under the Display submenu.
    Set Video Memory in VirtualBox for Android Emulator
  13. Select the Optical drive under the storage submenu.
    Select Optical Drive in VirtualBox
  14. Click the optical drive icon under attributes and select Choose a CD/DVD disk file.
    VirtualBox Choose ISO File for Android Emulator
  15. Select the Android x86 ISO file you downloaded earlier then Click Ok.
  16. Click Start with Android x86 selected. The virtual box will boot off the ISO file and present an install menu.
    Click Start
  17. Select Installation from the menu.
    Select Installation from the Android x86 Menu
  18. Select Create/Modify Partitions and Click Ok. A partition menu appears.
    Select Create/Modify Partitions
  19. Select New then Primary to create a single, primary partition on your virtual hard drive. Click Enter to configure the partition to use all available space on the virtual hard drive.
    Select New then Primary
  20. Select Bootable then Write and type “yes”  to confirm. Then select Quit to return to the installation program.
    Select bootable then write
  21. Click Ok to install onto the partition you just created.
    Click Ok
  22. Choose ext3 when prompted for a fileystem format. Click Yes to confirm. The system will now copy some files.
    Choose ext3 for file system
  23. Click Yes when asked if you want to install GRUB.
    Install GRUB
  24. Click Yes when asked if you want to install /system as read-write. This will allow you to make some hacks if you choose to in the future. The system will now copy a few files.
    Make /system directory read/write
  25. Select Devices -> CD/DVD Devices -> Remove disk from virtual drive from VirtualBox’s top menu bar then click Force Unmount from the dialog box.
    Remove Disk
  26. Select Reboot and click Ok. The system will boot into Android and after offering you the chance to boot to Debug or regular mode.
    Select Reboot
  27. Step your way through Android setup as you would on any phone or tablet, entering your Google account info and changing any settings you like. Don’t configure Wi-Fi because VirtualBox already gets its Internet connection from your PC. After hitting the “Start button” on the welcome screen, there may be a minute or two delay.
    Android Welcome Screen
  28. Select Disable Mouse Integration from the VirtualBox Machine menu to make sure your mouse pointer stays synced with your movements. Use the right CTRL key to move your mouse pointer out of the VirtualBox window.  Hitting Right CTRL + C will allow you to scale the Android window as you resize it.
    Disable Mouse Integration

Waking the Android Emulator from sleep

While Android x86 provides a true Android experience on your PC, it has a few quirks of its own. Perhaps the most obvious of these is that you can’t wake it from sleep, simply by clicking on the emulator window. If the screen goes to sleep,  you must hit the menu key on  your keyboard, which is usually between the right Windows key and CTRL key on  your keyboard, to wake it.

Change the Android Emulator’s Screen resolution

By default, the emulator window is set to 800 x 600 resolution. To boot into a higher resolution:

  1. Hit the “a” key when the GRUB menu appears at boot time.
  2. Type “vga=ask” at the end of the command that appears and hit Enter.
  3. Hit Enter again to see a list of video modes.
  4. Input the number of the mode you want (ex: 1152x864x24 is number 34B) and hit Enter.

In our experience, many of these video modes did not work and required us to reboot. However, you can feel free to experiment. 

AUTHOR BIO
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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  1. Anoyomus Says:

    In 20. step, i don’t write “yes”. Help Me!

  2. John Says:

    “In our experience, many of these input modes did not work and required us to reboot. However, you can feel free to experiment. ”

    Which ones did you get to work?

  3. Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director Says:

    1152 x 864 seemed to work on my desktop as did 800 x 600 and I believe 1024 x 768. I think this may vary based on the physical hardware you have.

  4. gen Says:

    My sound gets lot of noise whenever 2ndary tasks are being perform. For example, if i have beyond pod playing that is fine. But if I am browsing the web while beyondpod is playing, sound gets lots of noise, and it won’t go away until the end of the track.
    Looks like it has something to do when mouse integration.

  5. nAREN Says:

    i loaded android 2.3 version and it is working fine. but it does not show SD card . also i cannot download any applications because it tells me no SD card. I put SD card in my laptop but still it shows no SD card. Please help.
    Thanks.
    naren

  6. Jim Eubanks Says:

    Seems to work fine on my Mac Mini running OS X 10.7, except that my mouse cursor is invisible over the Android screen.

  7. michael thomas Says:

    I am trying to simulate youwave. I need to use an emulator to register different accounts. As of 5/23 the game has blocked youwave. Says you need a real device with 2.2 or higher. I think its is cause the build.prop says something like model:custom_19999 instead of a real device. What i need to do is use the emulator to look like a real device. I also need terminal to be able to do a “busybox rm id” on the sd card. I installed android terminal and busybox but busybox will not install correctly. Is there any other place where i might get help?

    So sum it up I need help with…
    Making emulator look like a real device
    Be able to use terminal to do a “busybox rm id” to the sdcard.

  8. reux Says:

    I got lost on Step 17. On step 16, I choose “Installation …” and press Enter, the partition menu does not appear. What am I doing wrong?

  9. RaikenJenova Says:

    “Battery Low” and the simulator turn itself off. How to fix it? Urgent.

  10. Khat Says:

    Speed is decent, but it won’t install most apps, and others run incorrectly. Pixel Dungeon not compatible, Beastie Bay flips the display and it won’t go back.

  11. Jim Says:

    Boot process hangs at message “Detecting Android-x86…”, then reboots automatically after about 60 seconds. I’m running VirtualBox 4.2.12 on Windows 7.

  12. Salad Says:

    Same issue as Reux and Jim, it hangs after step 17 and reboots.

  13. Miles Says:

    It only have few applications available for download on googleplay. =___=

  14. Jim Says:

    I enabled virtualization in my BIOS and everything ran as advertised.

  15. Darren Says:

    Thanks Jim, that solved the hang/reboot issue for me too.

  16. peter Says:

    Hi,
    I installed the android successfully and rebooted like in step 26 and successfully started android but after adding the gmail account details it stays in a plain black screen, not starting the emulator. Please someone advise on how to resolve the issue.

  17. oswaldo Says:

    I got this so i could text because my tablet crapped out on me. On the playstore, it said the textplus was not compatible with my device but i manged to find a APK file online and installed it. Anyways, after that, i tried to log in and it says that a internet connection was required, yet i could go on the web browser and youtube without any problem. Also when it’s supposed to just make a quick click noise when i tap on something, it loops the noise for quite a while and it’s rather irritaiting so i turned off volume. My main problem though lies with textplus not recognizing the internet. Any help or ideas?

  18. Boon Teck Lee Says:

    The emulator is in “sleep” mode. You need to hit the “menu” key on your keyboard. In my Dell notebook, it is the key to the right of the right-side Ctrl key.

  19. Mahesh Says:

    Hi,
    I tried the above steps but after reboot it says
    “tsc: Fast TSC calibration failed”
    and it opens the android command prompt.
    Please help me !!! how to get the android UI on virtual box.

  20. Dave Says:

    In the Dev Settings, you can set to never sleep so that you don’t have the issue with it going to sleep.

    I am having an issue with sound though. on two different setups I am getting the same thing. Sound is terrible sounding, very choppy. and when you stop the app that is creating the sound, a choppy sound continues for several seconds after the sound is supposed to have stopped.

    Haven’t found any other resolutions that work for me, but have only tested a few.

    Thanks

  21. Bob Says:

    After I go through everything on step 21, this pops up:

    http://i.imgur.com/dQZh2Zt.jpg

    I need help, how do I stop this from happening to move onto the next step?

  22. Ami Says:

    after all it only show ANDROID_ thats all i see

  23. Sinox Says:

    How can I rotate the screen? Please help, or I will have to read the text sideway.

  24. Sinox Says:

    How can I rotate the screen?

  25. hazem Says:

    i have a problem , it says that i dont have enough space while i have 70 GB free , please help me , what to dooooooooooooooooooooooooo????????????????

  26. hazem Says:

    installation filed .please check if you have enough free disk space to install android 86x ,, please help me

  27. hazem Says:

    i have a problem with the lock , i cant open it , how to stop this?

  28. hazem Says:

    why every time i open it , i have to install it ,,, why nobody answering me , i really like your program ,,

  29. hazem Says:

    why wifi dosnt want to get on , always off ,,, please helpppppppppppppppppp

  30. Adel Says:

    I am trying to get it connected to internet please show me how!

  31. uriel Says:

    if wifi doesnt want to turn on in the android UI.

    then click network connections and right click the connection u need to change, might aswell run an administrator

    Change TCP/IP settings

    TCP/IP defines the language that your computer uses to communicate with other computers. We recommend using automated Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) to automatically assign Internet Protocol (IP) addresses to the computers on your network, if your network supports it. If you use DHCP, then you don’t have to change your settings if you move your computer to another location, and DHCP doesn’t require you to manually configure settings such as Domain Name System (DNS) and Windows Internet Name Service (WINS).

    Click to open Network Connections.

    Right-click the connection that you want to change, and then click Properties. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

    Click the Networking tab. Under This connection uses the following items, click either Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) or Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6), and then click Properties.

    To specify IPv4 IP address settings, do one of the following:

    To obtain IP settings automatically, click Obtain an IP address automatically, and then click OK.

    To specify an IP address, click Use the following IP address, and then, in the IP address, Subnet mask, and Default gateway boxes, type the IP address settings.

    To specify IPv6 IP address settings, do one of the following:

    To obtain IP settings automatically, click Obtain an IPv6 address automatically, and then click OK.

    To specify an IP address, click Use the following IPv6 address, and then, in the IPv6 address, Subnet prefix length, and Default gateway boxes, type the IP address settings.

    To specify DNS server address settings, do one of the following:

    To obtain a DNS server address automatically, click Obtain DNS server address automatically, and then click OK.

    To specify a DNS server address, click Use the following DNS server addresses, and then, in the Preferred DNS server and Alternate DNS server boxes, type the addresses of the primary and secondary DNS servers.

    To change DNS, WINS, and IP settings, click Advanced.

    hope that helps.

  32. Agustin Says:

    I has a problem geting conected to internet. i can’t login on google cus of that, it pups up the Wi-Fi finder… and of course it wont turn on. What to do?

  33. tom Says:

    hi,
    how can install a file manager like es file explorer and the play store in case it is not there?
    thanks

  34. edka47 Says:

    installation failed .please check if you have enough free disk space to install android 86x. need help (windows 8 32bit)

  35. femi Says:

    this is great.i succesfully installed all.however i cannot access the internet hence cannot get files to install.pls help me i really need this

  36. sid Says:

    Well would it harm my computer as because when i cancelled the installation of virtual box it said system not modified

  37. Jason Knisley Says:

    Any idea how to get OpenGL apps to work? So far it seems that anything using OpenGL crashes. I tried to write a simple app using OpenGL and in the log messages I get OpenGL errors. To verify, I downloaded “OpenGL ES Examples” by Learn OpenGL ES and it crashes as well. Thoughts??

  38. Amir Says:

    @Avram
    Can you please arrange question and corresponding answers?

    From the foram its difficult to judge ans

  39. Amir Says:

    After it logins on google it shows blank screen. after pressing menu key, it doesnt show any progress. Can you please help me its urgent?

  40. Amir Says:

    I got temporary solution for blank screen issue. You can try to close virtual box window. It will ask for save machine state, send shutdown signal and power off machine. select send shutdown signal. It will send shut down signal to current activity and you can see your mobile screen. Basically problem is timeout for window powersave mode. Increase timeout for power save mode.

  41. Amir Says:

    Solution for disapearance of menubar from virtual box: It has gone in scale mode. To bring back to normal mode you can use host(ctrl + right) + c

  42. enzo Says:

    I’m having a problem with the internet because my computer is under a proxy? I tried to setup the proxy on virtualbox but still didn’t work.

  43. David Says:

    Frist off, the app is really cool. My screen is stuck sideways. How can I rotate it?
    Thank you very much for a quick reply.

  44. Teun Says:

    I got the exact same problem as Bob had:

    After I go through everything on step 21, this pops up:

    http://i.imgur.com/dQZh2Zt.jpg

    I need help, how do I stop this from happening to move onto the next step?

    any solution already for it? i really can use some help!

  45. Abhishek5 Kandhari Says:

    for most of the apps it says it is not compatible.. any problem or it is like this only?

  46. Amy Says:

    I have the same issue as you Teun, any help would be nice.

  47. Android 4.3 Says:

    Thanks for the great guide! I was able to get 4.3 to work on my house computer running i7 gen 4 and it had almost every app on the market! My older computer can only run 4.2 and much fewer apps are available.

    Was able to get an app called “Ultimate Rotation Control” that prevents screen rotation. A must have!

    Cant figure out how to change resolution. Only problem I have.

  48. Dave Says:

    Try to skip the partitioning stuff from step 17.

    That seems to work, but the last step to play Reckless Racing 2 is not here: how to get the apk-file (in my windows 7 side), running (as installed app) into that emulator?

    i can go to google play, but rather would see a way to select it from a directory or something, saving my dollars :-)

    thanks Dave

  49. Jonny Says:

    I have tried Android x86 4.2 and 4.3 both get hung up @ step 22 and will not allow me to format ext3, any help would be greatly appreciated.

  50. mark Says:

    Fantastic tutorial. I got stuck at step 17 for a bit but then I saw another user’s comment regarding enabling hardware virtualization in the BIOS, which I did, and it was smooth sailing from there on. Thanks so much for this info. I have a circuit simulation app (“Every Circuit”) that I’ve been dying to use on a larger screen. Now I finally can!

  51. Jan Jullen Mella Says:

    How do you add additional apps? i cant figure it out

  52. Richard Says:

    I am unable to get past #17 after selecting install it goes through a series of things and reboots.

    I am using the most current VirtualBox and tried both 4.2 & 4.3.

    i7-3770 & 8 GB ram with 1TB drive.

    Thoughts?

  53. Sdertef Says:

    can i copy my files from my computer to it, how?

  54. CptGold Says:

    Hey, Really awesome guide :)
    Is it possible to run a stock version of Android (4.3 or 4.2 but stock) as oppose to the CyanogenMod presented in this tutorial? If so how please? (i.e. where do I get the iso for the stock Android please?).
    Thanks.

  55. mahmood Says:

    I went through all steps of installing android emulator, but the result is “the setup wizard has stopped” i.e. it can not complete setup and finally no welcome screen.
    I have a sumsung notebook running on win 7 with an Intel GMA 3150 which does not support openGL. That was why I opted for this virtual box rather than a simple commericial one.
    May you tell me what went wrong?

  56. Greg Spears Says:

    I am able to follow everything up to step 17. After that none of what you are showing appears. It starts installing stuff without step 18 coming up or any of the other steps after step 17. I am using VirtualBox Manager ver. 4.3.6 r91406 and the same Android iso you used. I am running Windows 7 Home Premium on a custom HP Envy laptop. HELP!!

  57. Chanchal Ram Says:

    Dear sir,

    I getting problem I using Android x-86 4.2 20130228 with virtual box. when I click on choose CD/DVD disk then I click on Android-x86- 20130228.iso then I getting message -Failed to open the optical disk file C:\Users\hp\Documents\android-x86-4.2-20130228.iso.

    Could not get the storage format of the medium ‘C:\Users\hp\Documents\android-x86-4.2-20130228.iso’ (VERR_NOT_SUPPORTED).

    Result Code: VBOX_E_IPRT_ERROR (0x80BB0005)
    Component: Medium
    Interface: IMedium {05f2bbb6-a3a6-4fb9-9b49-6d0dda7142ac}
    Callee: IVirtualBox {fafa4e17-1ee2-4905-a10e-fe7c18bf5554}
    Callee RC: VBOX_E_OBJECT_NOT_FOUND (0x80BB0001)

    so, please solve my problem.

  58. knelson Says:

    pls help me problem my all s0ftware

  59. Joice Says:

    Thank you!After a struggle to make Android work, your tutorial helped me a lot.

  60. shakkir Says:

    how can i remove it

  61. caleb Says:

    Thanks! This worked out well, but it’s saying that my device is not compatible with apps on the play store. How do I fix this?

  62. caleb Says:

    Thanks! This worked perfectly for me. But it’s saying that my device is not compatible with apps on the play store. How do I fix this?

  63. Yuliandi Says:

    can’t get the wifi on!!! Need wifi to add my google account :(. Please HELP!!!

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