How to Sideload Apps On The Kindle Fire

Sideloaded Apps on the Amazon Kindle Fire

The built-in App store on the Kindle Fire offers a decent selection, but it doesn’t have everything.  For example, you can’t download Tweetdeck or TripIt, or alternate browsers like Opera Mini or Firefox. While Google’s Android Market is off limits to Kindle Fire owners, you can install apps that aren’t available on Amazon’s store by transferring them via USB (also known as sideloading). 

Here’s how to sideload apps on the Kindle Fire.

  • Download and install ES File Explorer
    Install ES File Explorer on the Kindle Fire 
  • Navigate to Settings > Device
    Navigate to Settings->Device on the Amazon Kindle Fire 
  • Turn On the “Allow Installation of Applications From Unknown Sources” option.
    Enable Apps from Unknown Sources on the Amazon Kindle Fire 
  • Connect the Kindle Fire to your PC via USB. An AutoPlay alert will appear on your PC.
     
  • Select Open folder to view files. A directory listing of the Kindle Fire’s memory will appear.
  • Copy the APK files for the apps you wish to install onto the Fire’s internal memory.
    Copy Files 
  • Launch ES File Explorer on the Fire. A list of files and folders will appear.
    ES File Folders on the Kindle Fire
  • Tap icons for the files you wish to install.  
  • Tap the Install button to confirm your choice.
    Confirm Installation of a Sideloaded App on the Kindle Fire 
Any apps you sideload will now appear as part of the menu on the home screen. You can remove sideloaded apps the same way you remove any third-party app, through the settings->applications menu.

Finding APK Files to Install

In order to sideload any app, you’ll need to get a copy of its APK file and save it to your PC for transfer to the Kindle Fire. You can download APKs directly from handango.com, a store that has a really strong selection and makes its wares available via any web browser. 

If you have another Android device that has access to the Android market, you can use Astro File Manager, another free app, to create APK backups of any app you have installed. Then you can copy them from your device to your PC for transfer to the Fire.


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. Bella Says:

    I downloaded the Tweetdeck APK file from handango.com and followed the instructions, however, it keeps telling me the application was not installed. Any suggestions?

  2. Scotia Says:

    …or you can simply click the link to “Download to PC” on Handango using the Fire’s built in browser, wait for the download to finish, then click that downloaded file’s entry in the Fire’s notification area (tap the number in the upper left). It will ask you if you want to install the download. Boom. Done.

    You only have to jump through hoops with your PC as middle man if you can’t obtain an. apk file from a direct download. Even then, you can probably just email it to yourself from your phone. Gmail’s mobile interface via the web renders awesomely in Silk.

  3. Bella Says:

    Nope, that didn’t work either. I can download the file without problems. It attempts to install the file, but then it just says “Application Not Installed”. (image: http://bit.ly/uWdJ8q)

  4. Jon Says:

    Nice ! .. I took most of my Apps off my Atrix and loaded them .. Some forced closed right away (Bummer) … other then the low rez icons on the book shelf some worked perfect

  5. nick Says:

    I am in oz so how do i actually download es file explorer to the fire

  6. Julian Says:

    Similar situation as above…I migrated my .apk files to Kindle. Then attempted to install them. All failed with message: “Application Not Installed”. Noteably this occured with TripIt, one of the apps mentioned in the article’s opening paragraph… Did I just have bad luck with the three apps I tried? Or is there a bigger obstacle?

  7. Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director Says:

    I think things that have a deeper hook to the OS may have some problems. We were able to install alternative browsers, benchmark tests, and a few other things we tried.

  8. jackodn Says:

    I’m with Julian, I tried to install TripIt but got the “Application Not Installed”. I was excited to see TripIt referenced in the article title, because I use it weekly and bought my Fire specifically for travel.

    I guess we have to wait for the application developers to catch up with the Fire’s popularity.

  9. Scott Says:

    Is it possible to just download the .apk file from Marketplace? It’s the only legitimate place that has Blackboard Mobile Learn. Amazon doesn’t have it.

  10. Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director Says:

    Nope. However, handango lets you download apks directly if they have your app.

  11. iris moroz Says:

    hi im an international user of kindel and unfortunately amazon will not let me download free apps games or other utilities due to the fact that i do not have a US credit card. any suggestions on how to side load?

  12. Jody Says:

    I was able to download the apk file but when trying to install I get the message Parse error. There is a problem parsing the package.

    what does this mean and how to I install the apps.

  13. John Says:

    Anybody managed yet to successfully install tweetdeck on kindle fire ? I have the .apk on board but it stops install 1/3 way thru and I get “application not installed” error message

  14. Roger K Says:

    Since I’D rather not give actual credit card numbers to sellers I use my PayPal cash card, that is not tied to an actual credit card. To use it I transfer money into it when I’m planning a purchase, or when I want to have some money available for little purchases. I feel much safer doing this.

  15. Lee Hawke Says:

    Another useful way to install apps on the kindle fire is Dropbox (https://db.tt/JIttNPu)
    Simply install Dropbox on your pc and Android device and ‘share’ your APKs between the two devices.
    Simples!

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