Run Android Apps Under Windows

Category: Mobile , Windows

Back in March, 2016, I asked, “Is Desktop Software Dying?” The short answer is “yes.” Most new software is released first for mobile platforms these days; in some cases, a desktop version never appears. Fortunately, there are several ways to run Android apps on a Windows PC. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Read on for my take on several of the best options...

Android Apps on Your Desktop?

One way to run Android apps under Windows or any other operating system is Google’s ARC Welder Chrome extension (ARC stands for App Runtime for Chrome). First, go to the ARC Welder’s page in the Chrome Web Store and install the extension in Chrome. This extension loads APK files - the Android Application Packages in which Android apps are distributed.

If you have a favorite app on your Android phone, you can create an APK of it by making a backup copy. You can make and upload and APK file with the free ES File Explorer Alternatively, there are many APK libraries on the Web. Many of them are pirate sites, but APK Mirror offers only legitimate, free APKs.

Once you have an APK, open the ARC Welder extension and select the APK file with it. Then you will have to specify how the app should render - landscape/portrait, tablet/phone, and whether you want it to have clipboard access. Some apps and games will not run under ARC Welder, but those that run do so very well. However, you can run only one app at a time.

Android apps on Windows desktop

A not-so-easy method is to use the Android emulator that comes with Android Studio, the software development kit (SDK) provided by Google. After installing the SDK, you will have to use its SDK Manager utility to download the version of Android that you want (probably the latest). Then you will use the AVD (Android Virttual Device) Manager to create an emulation of a phone, tablet, or other Android device. Google provides some pre-configured AVDs that emulate Nexus devices, or you can roll your own manually.

Once you boot your virtual device, you’ll need to load apps into it. APK files must be dragged and dropped into the tools folder in your SDK directory. Then use the AVD’s command prompt enter “adb install filename.apk” without quotes. Be sure you are in the same folder as the APK file when you enter that command. The app will be added to the app list of your virtual device.

Stack 'em Up

The big advantage of this method is that you are running pure, unmodified Android straight from its source. Almost every Android app should run. The biggest drawback is that all emulators are sluggish; playing action games is out of the question, and many other apps will feel pokey.

Your best bet for running multiple Android apps with minimum effort on a Windows PC is probably the BlueStacks App Player. It includes a full, heavily modified version of Android and the Google Play Store, putting all you need at your fingertips in one software installation. It even adds a virtual Galaxy Note II to your Google Play device list. The downside is that non-standard Android build, which can cause some apps and games to crash. BlueStacks is a freemium program, with a free basic version, and more features unlocked when you pay $2.00 per month.

Have you run Android apps on your Windows desktop? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Run Android Apps Under Windows"

Posted by:

10 Oct 2016

Making your software product into a "cloud" only or an "app" version with no PC or laptop version? Then you just lost me as a customer. Internet and phone connections just aren't reliable enough for me to rely on. My customers won't accept "the internet was down" as an excuse. They expect results on time every time.

Posted by:

10 Oct 2016

Thank you, Bob. I installed the Blue Stacks App Player, and it works just fine. I love it! Why I need to play my Android games on my PC I don't know yet, but it works! You've made my day! (Good thing I'm retired...)

Posted by:

Smoky Lowe
10 Oct 2016

I agree with Reg I will no longer be a customer either, if I can't get a program to work on a PC. There are to many apps for stupid phones and sure is a waste to my way of thinking. All phones should just call or receive calls, period. Thank you but no thank you.

Posted by:

10 Oct 2016

Why would I ever want to run Android apps on a Windows desktop computer? I don't even like Microsoft *Apps* on my Windows desktop computer! (For the uninitiated, Windows (or Android) "apps" are not the same as "applications.")
Yes, I'm starting to be a curmudgeon. I like my desktop with it's three - count 'em - three 24" screens. And when I'm away from it, no you can't contact me every minute with the latest celebrity news!

Posted by:

10 Oct 2016

I have been wracking my brain to think of anything that I do on the mobile phone that can't already be done on the PC. Maybe GPS related functions,but extra hardware required there, otherwise I come up with a blank. I would be interested in seeing some examples if anyone can think of any.

Posted by:

10 Oct 2016

Apropos Denis' comment:

I'm looking for something which will emulate Android, not for gaming but for online banking. A new bank in the UK offers the best savings rates but it runs ONLY on Android apps. I don't have a smartphone and have no experience of such or the apps. Can anyone tell me what I need to effect RELIABLE online banking on a Windows PC (preferably XP Pro but I might be able to manage Win 7 Pro) with an Android simulator?

Posted by:

11 Oct 2016

Mobile Computer Science Principles ( and Technovation ( are two efforts at teaching mobile app programming to two groups of students who have typically been left out of computer education. Having a high quality emulator so that these students don't have to purchase mobile devices they may not want or be able to afford offers a way into CS.

Thanks for the article, Bob.

Posted by:

Jay R
11 Oct 2016

Why would I want to run Android apps? Heck, I can't even run some regular apps that I really loved on Win7. Let's hear it for the curmudgeons!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by:

13 Oct 2016

..."The biggest drawback is that..." Google is like the Borg: "Resistance is futile and [we are all] being assimilated."
The real decision is choosing the lesser of two evils (Apple/Goggle). No thank you, I am sticking with Microsoft!

Posted by:

13 Oct 2016

@JayR >> Why can't you run regular Win7 apps [applications/programs?] under Win10? Have you tried using these apps under the Win10 'compatibility mode'?

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