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How to Sideload Apps on Kindle Fire HD (Updated)

Check out the comprehensive Kindle Fire Guide for more detailed information and trouble shooting.

The Amazon Kindle Fire has been a big hit with its low price of $199 and its easy access to Amazon products like books, music and video. But one major issue is that you can only access Amazon Appstore for apps. Although the Amazon Appstore has a decent app selection it’s not anything close to what the Google Play Store offers. Luckily the Kindle Fire has no issues with installing apps from the Play Store without needing to root. The process is very simple and straight forward but does require a little bit of work. We’ll go over a step-by-step method of how to install any app on the Kindle Fire.

Overview

There are actually multiple ways to install apps on the Kindle Fire but we’ll only discuss one such method. But I will give an overview of the process so that you can understand and use other similar methods if you choose. I’ll also highlight some of the other options throughout the article.

Overall, installing an app on the Kindle Fire requires obtaining the main app file. All Android app files have the APK extension and there are several methods to obtain the file. Some APK files can be found by searching the internet or third-party sites like GetJar. Here you have to be careful since those files can contain anything and you must make sure it’s a reputable site. The safest option will be to use another Android device, like your phone, to obtain the APK file. This is the method that we’ll discuss since it ensures the safest option.

Step 1

You’ll need to allow installation of third-party apps on the Kindle Fire. This is simple and only requires a setting options.

  • Go to setting on your Kindle Fire
  • choose “Device” option
  • Choose “On” option for “Allow Installation of Applications” from unknown sources

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Step 2

Install ES File Explorer (video tutorial) on both the Kindle Fire and your Android phone. There are other file manager that you can choose but the ES File Explorer interface is simple and the app is free. The app can be downloaded from the Amazon Appstore (ES File Explorer) for the Kindle Fire and Google Play Store (link) for the other device.

Step 3

Download the app you want to your Android phone then obtain the APK file by using ES File Explorer.

  • Open ES File Explorer app then choose app manager from settings
  • Long press on desired app and choose backup
  • Repeat for all other apps

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Step 4

Now you need to transfer the app APK file to your Kindle Fire. There are multiple methods like using Dropbox, emailing or simple USB transfer. Some of the other methods required additional steps so we’ll discuss USB transfer only.

  • Connect your Android Phone to the computer using USB
  • Navigate to the newly connected Android drive
  • Navigate to backups/apps (default save folder from ES File Explorer)
  • copy all desired APK app files to a local folder on your computer
  • Connect the Kindle Fire to the computer
  • Copy all APK app files from local folder to the Kindle Fire (anywhere works but root folder is easiest)

Step 5

Now it’s time to install the APK file on the Kindle Fire.

  • Open ES File Explorer on the Kindle Fire
  • Navigate to the APK app file (based on where you saved in step 4) and press
  • Press “Install” and that’s it

Sideloading apps on Kindle Fire

As you can see it’s not very difficult to install apps on the Kindle without root. But remember that just because you can install apps on the Kindle Fire doesn’t mean all apps will work. Any Google apps that required sign-in like Gmail or Google Voice will not work as that still required root. Other apps that don’t have compatibility with the Kindle Fire may not work either. It will be a trial and error to see what does work or doesn’t. This is why rooting the Kindle Fire is an advantage since it gives access to the Google Play Store and displays compatibility with the apps. But rooting is a topic for another day. If you have any questions be sure to leave a comment. I hope that’s all clear and enjoy your new apps on the Kindle Fire.

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Arash Soheili

Founder & Chief Editor at Android Cowboy
Arash is the founder of Android Cowboy and all around tech enthusiast. His passion for technology and Android pushed him to start his own blog. He currently carries the Nexus 5, Kindle Fire HDX, and Nexus 7 FHD tablet. He's also a Google Glass explorer!!