Installing Apps from Unknown Sources on Android

Enabling the installation of apps from unknown sources on Android devices is a topic that intrigues many users. Although Android devices prioritize security by limiting app installations to the Google Play Store, there are situations where users wish to explore other options. In this guide, we will provide a concise tutorial on enabling Unknown Sources on your Android device. Additionally, we will discuss the potential risks involved, empowering you to make informed decisions before stepping outside the boundaries of the Google Play Store.


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What are Unknown Sources?

Unknown sources refer to locations outside the Google Play Store from which you have downloaded an APK app. Google considers its Play Store as the only trusted source for installing apps on Android.

However, there are instances when you may need to download apps from unknown sources. This includes apps from third-party marketplaces or apps that are currently in the beta-testing phase. Platforms like Appaloosa enable app distribution outside the Play Store and require these permissions. This method of distribution is also known as sideloading. Since the early versions of the Android operating system, users have been required to explicitly enable the installation of apps from unknown sources in the settings. If you attempt to install a downloaded APK without this setting enabled, you will receive the following prompt message:

“For your security, your phone is not allowed to install unknown apps from this source.”


related:Step-by-Step: Setting Up ATV IPTV on Your Android Phone

How to Turn On Unknown Sources on Android

Do you want to download an application that is not available on the Google Play Store? Fortunately, you can download it by enabling “Install Unknown Apps.”However, what should you do in this case? To allow apps to be downloaded from Unknown Sources, follow the steps below:

Install Apps from Unknown Sources in Android 10, 11, and 12

  1. Open Settings on your phone.
  2. Go to “Apps,” then tap on “Special app access.” If you don’t find it, go to “Advanced” followed by “Special app access.”
  3. Tap on “Install unknown apps.
  4. Tap on the app you will use to install the third-party apps. This is usually a browser or the Files app. We’re using Chrome for this example.
  5. Enable the toggle next to “Allow from this source.”
  6. Tap on the APK file to install it.

Install Apps from Unknown Sources on Samsung

  1. Open Settings and go to “Apps.”
  2. Tap on the three-dot icon at the top and select “Special access” from the menu.
  3. Tap the “Install unknown apps” option.
  4. Enable the toggle next to the app you will use to install the third-party apps.

Note: if the above steps don’t work, go to “Settings → Biometrics and security (or Privacy) → Install unknown apps.” Enable the toggle for the required app.

How to Allow Unknown Sources in SAMSUNG Galaxy A33 – Allow Installation

If you’re unsure how to allow unknown sources on the Samsung Galaxy A33, you can watch the video tutorial below.

Install Apps from Unknown Sources in Android 8.0 Oreo and 9.0 Pie

  1. Go to “Settings -> Apps & notifications -> Advanced -> Special app access -> Install unknown apps.”
  2. Select the app (usually your Internet browser) that you want to install from unknown sources.
  3. Tap “Allow from this source” to enable unknown sources for that specific app.

Install Apps from Unknown Sources on Android 7 Nougat and Older

To install from unknown sources in Android N and older, you can enable and disable the feature right from the settings panel.

  1. Open the App Drawer on your Android device and tap on the “Settings” icon. It will open the settings panel where you can change all the settings related to your device.
  2. Scroll all the way down until you see an option saying “Security & fingerprint.” On the devices that do not have the fingerprint feature, you will only see the “Security” option.
  3. Tap on the option you have on your device, and it will open the security settings menu for your device.
  4. Scroll down to see an option that says “Unknown sources.” This option is what controls whether apps from outside the Play Store can be installed on your device. By default, the option is disabled.
  5. Enable the toggle next to the option to turn the feature on.
  6. You will get the following prompt before the feature can be enabled on your device. It mentions the risks involved with installing apps from unknown sources. Tap on “OK.”
  7. With the feature enabled on your device, you may exit out of the Settings menu and install the APK.

How to Enable Unknown Sources in Android 13 – Video Tutorial

How to Turn Off Unknown Sources on Android

In Android 7 and earlier versions, the setting is referred to as Unknown sources, and it consists of a single switch that allows or disallows the installation of apps from sources other than the Google Play Store for the entire system. However, in the latest iterations of Android, this functionality is divided into individual settings known as Install unknown apps, which can be enabled or disabled on a per-app basis.

How to Disable Unknown Sources on Android 7 and Earlier Versions

Here’s how to find it:

  • Open the system settings on your device;
  • Go to Security;
  • Scroll down to Unknown Sources and make sure it’s disabled.

Note: At a glance, managing this setting may appear simpler in older versions of Android. However, from a security standpoint, it’s not as straightforward. If you unintentionally enable the installation of unknown apps in Android 6 or 7, it opens the door for any app to download potentially malicious files, even apps you install in the future. This poses a significant security risk that should not be taken lightly.

How to disable Unknown Sources on Android 8 and later Versions

If you have allowed installation from unknown sources for some apps, you will need to disable it separately for each app. Here’s how to do it:

  • Open the system settings on your device;
  • Choose Apps and notifications;
  • Select Advanced and go to Special app access;
  • Select Install unknown apps;
  • Check what is listed under each app installed on your phone. If you see Allowed, select the app in the list and disable the installation of unknown applications.

Please note, we’re using the names of the settings in stock Android. Manufacturers often modify the standard Android interface, so some menu items may have different names on your phone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why can’t I install an APK on my phone?

It could be due to insufficient storage space on your phone or a corrupted APK file. Try downloading the files again. Another reason could be that the app isn’t compatible with your phone.

How do I allow third-party apps on Android 11?

To locate the Permission Manager, open the Settings app and then tap Privacy. In the resulting window, tap Permission Manager. You should now see a listing of all the available services on your device (Figure A). The installed app listing with the Android 11 Permission Manager.

Why you should not download apps from unknown sources?

Apps from unknown sources may have yet to be adequately tested for security vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, this means they might contain malware or other harmful software that could damage your device or steal your data.

Can I install apps from unknown sources?

From a Home screen, swipe up or down from the center of the display to access the app’s screen. Navigate Settings Settings icon > Apps. Tap Special access. Tap Install unknown apps.


In conclusion, enabling the Unknown Sources setting on your Android device offers the flexibility to install apps from sources outside the Google Play Store. However, it is crucial to prioritize security and exercise caution when utilizing this feature.

Before enabling Unknown Sources, it is essential to assess the credibility and reliability of the app source. It is recommended to rely on reputable app stores or trusted websites to minimize the potential risks associated with downloading malicious apps that may compromise your device’s security and personal data.

Lastly, remember to disable the Unknown Sources setting once you no longer require it to maintain a secure environment on your Android device. By remaining vigilant and making informed decisions, you can strike a balance between convenience and security while managing app installations on your device.

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