Have you ever felt limited by the app selection on your Firestick? Did you know you can access a world of content beyond the Amazon Appstore by sideloading new apps?
In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll show you how to unlock the full potential of your Firestick by installing sideloaded apps. You‘ll learn:
- What is Sideloading and How Does it Work?
- Step-by-Step Guide to Enable Unknown Sources
- How to Use Downloader App for Easy Sideloading
- Other Advanced Methods for Sideloading Apps
- Sideloading Safety Tips and Troubleshooting Help
- Sideloading FAQs Answered
Let‘s get started!
What is Sideloading and How Does it Work?
Sideloading refers to installing apps on your Fire TV device directly, without going through the Amazon Appstore.
You first enable "unknown sources", which permits installing apps from outside the Appstore. Then, you can download an APK (Android application package) file containing the app code. Using a utility like Downloader, you can finally sideload the APK onto your device.
Once installed, sideloaded apps appear in your app library like any other app. You can open them, use account credentials, and access all content as normal.
Here are some key benefits unlocked by sideloading:
- Install apps unavailable in the Appstore like YouTube, Facebook, Hulu, and over 50,000 more
- Remove limitations of Appstore apps – for instance, sideload ad-free YouTube
- Access unique apps developed specifically for Fire OS but not listed publicly
- Use Android apps designed for phones/tablets on your Fire TV
- Customize your Firestick with advanced tools for power users
According to Aptoide, there are over 2.2 million more apps available via sideloading compared to the paltry 5,000 in the Appstore. Sideloading vastly expands what you can do with your Firestick.
Next, let‘s look at how to get your device ready for sideloading.
Step-by-Step Guide to Enable Unknown Sources
Before you can install any sideloaded apps, you must first enable "unknown sources" on your Firestick. Here‘s how:
- From the Home screen, go to Settings.
- Select My Fire TV or Device (depends on model).
- Choose Developer Options.
- Turn on Apps from Unknown Sources or ADB Debugging (varies by device).
- Confirm the warning message by selecting Turn On.
You may be asked to enter your device passcode or Amazon account password before making changes.
Once unknown sources is enabled, your Firestick is ready to install sideloaded APKs. Let‘s look at how to do that using the popular Downloader app.
How to Use Downloader App for Easy Sideloading
Downloader provides the easiest way to find, download, and install APK files onto your device. Just follow these steps:
Install Downloader App
- From Home screen, search for "Downloader" and select app.
- Download and install Downloader.
- Grant requested permissions when prompted.
Fig 1. – Installing the Downloader app from the Amazon Appstore
Download Desired APK
- Open Downloader and select Browser tab.
- Type URL of site hosting APK, such as apkmirror.com.
- Find and select the app APK link to download.
For example, to download Terrarium TV:
- In Downloader, type
- Search for Terrarium TV
- Click "Download APK" button
The APK will automatically begin downloading onto your device.
Install Downloaded APK
- After download completes, open Downloader.
- Select the "Install" button next to downloaded APK.
- Click "Done" after installation finishes.
- Choose "Delete" to remove the APK file after installing.
That‘s it! The app is now installed and ready to use. Repeat for any other APKs you want to sideload.
Alternative Methods for Sideloading Apps
While Downloader is the easiest way to sideload, here are a couple advanced options:
Using a File Explorer
You can use a file manager like ES File Explorer to find and install APKs:
- Install file explorer from Appstore
- Locate downloaded APK in storage
- Select APK and tap "Install"
This gives you more control over storage and apps. But Downloader simplifies the entire process.
Sideload from a Computer
For full customization, you can sideload APKs directly from a computer:
- Connect Firestick and computer to same WiFi network.
- Obtain your device IP address from Settings > Network.
- On computer, enter IP into file explorer, such as
- Drag & drop APK file onto Firestick drive.
- Use Downloader or file manager to install APK.
While powerful, this method is time intensive compared to Downloader.
Sideloading Safety Tips and Troubleshooting
Sideloading is a safe process as long as you take precautions. Here are tips to avoid risks:
- Only download APKs from official developer sites when possible.
- Scan new APKs with antivirus software before installing.
- Check app reviews and developer reputation. Avoid shady or unknown sources.
- Stick to reputable app distributors like Aptoide TV, Apkmirror, Apkpure.
- Don‘t install apps related to illegal streaming or copyrighted content.
- Make regular backups in case you need to reset your device.
You may also encounter issues like apps not installing properly. Here are some common troubleshooting solutions:
App won‘t install: Enable unknown sources for that specific app under Settings > Developer Options.
App installed but crashes/doesn‘t open: The APK likely isn‘t compatible with your device firmware. Try a different APK version or re-download.
Apps suddenly missing: Reboot device to restore Appstore apps hidden by enabling unknown sources.
Cannot download APKs: Check internet connection and disable any VPN services temporarily.
For additional support, search for your specific problem online to find specialized help from other Firestick users.
Now let‘s answer some frequently asked questions about the legality and risks around sideloading.
Sideloading FAQs Answered
Is sideloading legal?
Sideloading itself is 100% legal. You have the right to install any software on devices you own. However, pirating copyrighted movies or shows is illegal regardless of how you obtain the content.
Is sideloading safe for my Firestick?
When sticking to reputable APK sources like Aptoide TV and Apkmirror, sideloading is generally safe. But downloading apps from shady sites increases malware risk. Use your best judgement.
Will sideloading impact performance?
Sideloaded apps work just like Appstore apps. Enabling unknown sources to install apps won‘t directly affect device performance. But some poorly optimized apps may run slower.
Can I get banned for sideloading?
Amazon won‘t ban your Firestick account or block services for sideloading. The only risk is if you sideload apps that enable illegal streaming or copyright infringement.
Do I need developer knowledge to sideload?
Absolutely not! The process is straightforward enough for anyone to follow. No coding skills or technical expertise required.
How do I uninstall a sideloaded app?
You can remove sideloaded apps the exact same way you‘d delete an Appstore app. Open Settings > Applications > Manage All Installed Applications.
I hope this guide served as your complete resource for sideloading new apps on your Firestick or Fire TV. With this power-user trick, a whole new world of content opens up beyond the limitations of the Amazon Appstore.
Remember to stay safe by downloading apps only from trusted sources. Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m always happy to help fellow cord-cutters get the most out of their streaming devices.