How to Sideload Any File to Your Android Phone or Tablet

By | April 4, 2022

Once you’ve gone beyond Android basics, you’re more likely to come across the term “sideload”. And while sideloading is useful and less complicated, if you’re not used to it, the process might confuse you.

Let’s take a look at what sideloading is, how it works on Android, and the different types of media you can sideload.

What is Sideload

You’ve heard of downloading and uploading, but what is sideload? In general, sideloading means transferring files between two of your own devices. It doesn’t necessarily require an internet connection, therefore “side” is not “up” or “down.”

In the context of mobile devices, sideloading usually refers to moving files from your desktop computer to your phone so you can use them on your mobile device. Especially for Android, sideloading often means installing apps from outside the Play Store.

However, because Android gives you the freedom to install and launch media from anywhere, sideload does more than just install apps.

What You Can Sideload on Android

Let’s take a look at the different types of files you can sideload on Android, then we’ll cover how the sideload process works.


Often times, people use Android sideloads to install apps from sources outside the Play Store. These come as APK files, which are Android package files (similar to EXE files on Windows).

There are many safe places to find APK files, such as APKMirror. You should be careful not to download APKs from random sites, as they may damage your device. Also, don’t forget that downloading paid apps for free is piracy.

Music, Books, Videos and Other Media

If you’re interested in overriding something other than the app, you have plenty of options. With the right apps on your device, you can enjoy music, ebooks, movies, and other types of content:

  • Music: Install one best offline music app for Android and you can enjoy your MP3 collection anywhere.
  • Book: Using Google Play Books or Android ebook reader Otherwise, you can load free ebooks to read on your device or transfer your collection.
  • Movies and TV: VLC is a great all-in-one option, allowing you to enjoy all kinds of video files that you have stored locally.
You can also sideload podcasts, but it’s much more convenient to just use Android podcast app to subscribe to your favorite shows and download them automatically.

Custom ROMs and Other Modding Tools

Lastly, Android sideload is an important tool when you modify your device. By using Android Debug Bridge, or ADB, you can push files from your desktop to install a custom ROM on your Android device.

This is an advanced use, so we won’t go into it in detail here.

How to Move Loaded Files to Your Android Device

Once you have installed the appropriate application on your phone to handle the transferred content, the next step is to move the files to your device. This assumes you have content ready on your desktop to move to your phone, so download whatever you want to move first.

No matter which method you use, when you save a file on your phone storage, don’t forget where you put it. Android has several folders already set up for common media types, such as Music, so use that folder or create a new one if needed.

Using USB Cable

The easiest way to transfer files to your Android device is to connect your phone and computer using a USB cable. It lets you move files from your PC to your phone just like you would in any other folder. While connecting a cable isn’t as convenient as other ways to do it, it’s faster and more reliable than the wireless method.

In Windows, you don’t need anything special to move files via USB. However, on a Mac, you need to install the tool Android File Transfer free first.

Download Files Directly on Your Phone

If you don’t want to bother with USB cables, it’s often easier to download files directly from your phone. For example, if you want to sideload an app, you can visit an APK download site using the browser on your phone and download it there.

This saves you from having to physically connect your phone and PC. However, this may not be an option if the media you want to sideload is only on your PC, such as a large MP3 collection.

Move Via Cloud Storage, Bluetooth, or Similar

To move data from your PC to your phone wirelessly, you can rely on the wireless method. If you use a cloud storage app like Dropbox or OneDrive on both devices, place the file in the cloud storage folder on your computer and then open it on your phone.

We have also shown how to connect Android device and PC You are using Bluetooth. While the wireless method is convenient to use, keep in mind that it is slower than transferring via USB and is more prone to interference. If you have large files to transfer or are on a slow network, it is better to physically connect them.

Accessing Sideloaded Files

Now that you have placed the file on your device, all you need to do is open it. For this you need Android file explorer app, so download one of them if you don’t already have one.

Using the file explorer, navigate to where you saved the transferred content, then tap to open it. Depending on the media type, Android will launch it in your default app, or ask in which app you want to open the content.

If the app opens in an app you don’t want to use (such as music that opens in YouTube Music instead of the new local music manager you installed), check out our guide to manage default apps on Android to change it. Otherwise, you can open the content in any supported app and enjoy it there.

For some types of content, you may be able to launch the file through the given application instead of your file manager. For example, the ebook manager might ask you to specify a folder in which to store your ebooks. If you point this to a folder containing books on your phone, the manager app will update its contents when you add new files to that folder.

Installing the moved apps requires an additional step, so be sure to check out the previously linked guide for more help on that.

Take advantage of Android Sideloading

Now you know how to sideload any type of content on your Android device. Your phone can handle just about any type of entertainment file a computer can have, making it easy to take your favorite media with you on the go. Once you’ve established a routine to move new files to your device, it shouldn’t take much time at all.