How to Allow and Install Apps from Unknown Sources on Android

This tutorial explains how to install Android apps from unknown sources on your Android device.

When it comes to installing apps on your Android phone, it’s a good idea to stick to the Google Play Store. However, there may be a time when you need to allow apps from unknown sources to install an app that doesn’t reside in the Play Store.

For example, you might know of a great, trusted app from the free Android app repository, F-Droid, that you want to install. Before your Android phone will let you get the app, though, you need to allow apps from unknown sources in your phone’s settings.

In this guide, we’ll explain known and unknown sources and how to allow unknown sources on your phone to install the apps you want.

What Are Unknown Sources?

An unknown source means installing an app from somewhere other than the official Play Store, Samsung Store, or Amazon App Store. Basically, it is a source for apps not trusted by Google or the company that made your phone, like Samsung.

An official store is one that you bought the phone from, and the company that wrote the software has been vouched for. You can install trusted apps from trusted locations without making any setting adjustments.

However, if you want to install an app from a different location, you must allow apps from unknown sources on Android. But make sure to enable it to get a specific app and then turn it off to prevent unwanted apps from being installed. So, for example, if you want to get an app from F-Droid, allow unknown sources, install the app, and turn the settings back off.

Allow Installation of External Apps on Android

Before you can install an APK or app from a third-party app store, you need to allow the installation of external apps. This section covers doing it on typical Android devices like Google Pixel, LG, OnePlus, etc.

In our example, we’re using an older OnePlus running Android 11. The steps on your phone may vary slightly (especially on older versions of Android), but this will give you a good idea of where to look. The steps for a Samsung Galaxy vary more and are covered in the section below.

To Allow Installation from External Sources

  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen and tap Settings (gear icon) in the top right corner.Allow Apps from Unknown Sources
  2. Select Apps or Apps & notifications from the list.apps and notifications
  3. Tap Special app access from the menu.
    Note: If you don’t see it, tap Advanced first.Allow Apps from Unknown Sources
  4. Tap the Install unknown apps option from the menu.install unkown apps
  5. Select the app that you want to use to install third-party apps – typically a browser or the Files app. In our example, we’re using Google Chrome.choose app to install third-party
  6. Toggle on the switch next to Allow from this source option on the menu.toggle allow from source

That’s it. You can now install an APK from a trusted online source.

How to Allow Installation of External Apps on Samsung Galaxy

Samsung’s One UI is a proprietary version of Android with its own ecosystem. Several features and functions default to Samsung apps. However, you don’t have to use it. You can install non-Samsung apps from the Play Store and install third-party apps from unknown sources like F-Droid.

In addition, you might want to install third-party apps on your phone. Of course, note that Samsung has many devices, and the following steps may vary slightly.

To Install Third-Party Apps on Samsung Galaxy Phones

  1. Swipe from the top of the screen to display the Notification Shade and tap Settings (gear icon).settings samsung galaxy phone
  2. Swipe down the screen and select Apps from the list of items.Allow Apps from Unknown Sources
  3. Tap the three-dot button in the top right apps menu button
  4. Select Special access from the menu that appears.Allow Apps from Unknown Sources
  5. On the Special access screen, tap the Install unknown apps option from the list of items.install unkown apps android
  6. Toggle on the app you want to use to install third-party apps. Again, you’d typically use a browser or Files app, but in our example, we’re using Files by Google.third-party apps files by google

Optional Method

  1. It’s also important to note that if the above steps don’t work, you can open Settings > Security and privacy.Allow Apps from Unknown Sources
  2. Swipe down the screen and tap the Install unknown apps option from the menu at the bottom.galaxy install unkown apps
  3. Toggle on the required app you want to use to install the app you want.toggle on app for third-party unkown sources

Installing Apps from Unknown Sources on Android

If you want to install apps from other sources than the Play Store, you’ll need to change the settings to allow apps from unknown sources. Remember, when you use this option and install the wrong app, it could compromise your privacy and data on your phone.

However, if you’re an experienced user and know the app you’re installing, allowing the setting is straightforward. You can install third-party apps, whether it’s a Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy device, from sources you know are safe but not recognized by the big tech companies.



  1. somsaK

    December 19, 2010 at 9:12 am


    • Dasaka(gottaSayImDrunkATM)

      August 19, 2017 at 9:11 am

      where is the reply button for the article blog or whatever?

  2. NP

    December 25, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Some stock phones DO NOT HAVE THIS OPTION. Thank you to the author for including a screen shot of each step. After spending 30 minutes fiddling with my phone trying to figure out why I couldn’t find the option to allow unknown sources (sideloading I guess), I realized that AT&T’s stock Captivate ROM does not allow sideloading, and this option is entirely missing from the applications menu.

    • Tim

      December 21, 2017 at 2:22 am

      I have an unlocked Moto Z Play and Nova launcher, can’t find that option either.

      • Tim

        December 21, 2017 at 2:24 am

        Settings, Applications gives you a list of all applications.

  3. george

    December 29, 2010 at 6:46 am

    Will these Android apps also work on my new Coby tablet pc?

  4. pete

    December 31, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    I also would like to know if it is possible to use these on Android Android tablet with a 2.1 .

  5. Erica

    January 7, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    life is good when u have The Most High

  6. Masud

    January 10, 2011 at 4:36 am

    Playing games in cellphone is perfect for relaxing.

    • MrGroove

      January 10, 2011 at 6:14 pm

      Agreed… If I need to chill for a minute, breaking out the phone helps…

  7. MW

    January 15, 2011 at 1:06 am

    Your evplanation and pictorial is good, but my Samsung Galaxy S does not have that option… what else can I do?

  8. gitch

    January 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm


    • MrGroove

      January 22, 2011 at 2:12 pm

      Groovy – I assume this helped you out?

  9. boncarlo

    January 26, 2011 at 3:53 am

    How to log in adroid application?to download art of war

  10. Vincent barone

    January 30, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Thanks for the easy step by step procedures of downloading.

  11. demi

    March 9, 2011 at 3:24 am

    My phone already was in this settin but it still doesnt let me download games and apps, my phone is an lg optimus

  12. Beth

    March 24, 2011 at 6:05 am

    Yes, but what do you do if you go to your settings > applications and “unknown sources” is not even THERE. How do you get around that?

    I have the Samsung Captivate, a Galaxy S phone.

  13. bpogula

    March 29, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I have a samsung captivate with Android 2.1 In settings–> Apps, I do not see ‘unknown sources’. How do I get it.

    I download the apk file and is in Sd card already. Also I have the app installer downloaded.

  14. Amy

    April 18, 2011 at 10:57 am

    I too have 2.1, and this option is unavalible. Is there a way to get around it? Or possibly another way?

  15. roselyn

    April 27, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Hello this us a good option

  16. Veronica

    May 21, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Is this a trusted web site

  17. Disne

    June 7, 2011 at 3:10 am

    I cant get market i have the same pass word for years, what do i need to do it want except my password

    • MrGroove

      June 7, 2011 at 7:38 am

      @Disne – Are you saying you cannot get into Market? Your password is not working?

  18. Shamika

    July 8, 2011 at 3:52 am

    I cant get my phone to download any of the games from the web

  19. Beverly Lewis

    July 20, 2011 at 5:19 am

    Would I to add as a friend

    • MrGroove

      July 20, 2011 at 8:21 am

      @Beverly? Sorry, I don’t follow. Say that again?

  20. Boogielee

    August 16, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    I have downloaded a game to my phone and can not find it.Where would it be?

  21. preetam

    September 10, 2011 at 10:31 am

    game is funy

  22. dasrath671

    September 11, 2011 at 12:03 am

    tolking cat,s/free game/
    new in mobile

  23. ahmad zaki

    September 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm


  24. aly

    December 26, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Cool thankya ig

  25. Ashleigh

    December 27, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Hi. I have the Pandigital Ereader, whitch is an Android tablet. I have done this at least a million times, and it keeps saying that it can’t be installed on my tablet. Can I do anything so I an download them? I really need help. Thanks!

  26. cream flower

    January 6, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    will anyone hack into my phone
    if i let other apps in

  27. motherklucker

    February 15, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    I have a Samsung Captivate and under “Applications” there is no “Quick Launch” or “Unknown Sources”. Someone mentioned I may have to root my phone, is this true?

  28. Ley

    March 23, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Hi Groovy Post

    Can you tell me how to get Flash player 11 on my Cruz T301. Cruz is not supported on Android Market. Thank you.

    • Austin Krause

      May 27, 2012 at 6:20 am

      Hi Ley, I don’t personally have a Cruz T301. But, please feel free to post your question in the free Answers community where I’m sure one of the community experts will see your question and help you get an answer.

      Your question also has a MUCH better chance of being seen by other groovyPost writers from the Answers forum as well.

  29. Kebab

    August 12, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Just to let others know, on three Samsung Galaxy S 3 it’s a bit different – settings > Privacy and that’s were you find the option.

    • Steve Krause

      August 13, 2012 at 11:13 am

      Ah — thanks Kebab!

  30. Ashley B

    August 22, 2013 at 2:47 am

    Please help, I have done these steps. As soon as I exit out of the settings, my phone automatically unticks the allow from unknown sources, I go back in, switch it on again, it gives me the warning, and then I go to install the App and it comes up with it again and tells me to turn it on. I have also tried switching my phone off and on after turning on the “allow from unknown sources'” it still .. turns it off.. help please

    • Austin Krause

      August 22, 2013 at 7:11 am

      Hi Ashley. What model phone are you using?

  31. JJ

    July 31, 2014 at 8:56 am

    I have a samsung galaxy note tablet 10.1 (not the newest version), and even when I do this, I can’t install 3rd party apps. I’ll get to the install screen, but I cannot confirm the install – only cancel. (I can mash on the confirm button all I want, but it doesn’t do anything..)

  32. Huda

    January 17, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Hello, I was wondering how the heck that could happen with iPhones. Or if it’s possible at all for iphones at all to have this option?

  33. Sadiq

    June 8, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    I have already enabled the unknown sources on my Samsung galaxy j7, when open the apk I can’t hit the install button

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