How-To #28: Copy/Rip Installed Android Apps(.apks) from device to PC
Looking back at how many times I do a wipe/clean on my Android device to install fresh roms, I found that installing all the apps I had becomes a repetitive chore. So I said to myself: There has to be a way to easily install the apps I commonly use on both my Android tablet and phone.
After a little research, the answer to all my problems was simple: adb pull. You see, the Android system is setup in a very basic Linux format for applications. The apps that you install on the phone, either from the market or manually, all goes in one of two(data/app or data/app-private) folders on the root of the phone. Using what I know from adb shell, solving my problem was simply copying the apps on my phone to my PC and using mass install to re-install applications.
This method works both for paid and free apps. Yes, there are illegal aspects to method, as you can "rip" an installed paid app and refund for full money. However, if you own and paid for the app, it should be perfectly fine.
**Update** Apparently Titanium Backup app for the Android can easily backup apks with a few clicks. This app even lets you upload to a dropbox account to restore your device on the go. Give this app a shot if you don't to manually go through the extraction process below.
- You would need a rooted Android device. How to achieve root varies from device to device.
Here is how manual apk backup works step by step: 1) On the Android device, go into Settings => Applications => Developement => Check USB Debugging 2) Plug the Android into a PC 3) Open Run menu by pressing Windows Key+R or clicking on Start(bottom left of window screen)=> Run 4) type in cmd to open Command Prompt 5) Go download the SDK for your OS with .exe extension 6) Install the SDK from the .exe after download 7) Type in adb devices, you should see a serials of numbers if you installed the driver + SDK correctly. Troubleshooting: If you see something that says "List of devices attached" but no numbers under it then your USB driver is not correctly installed or the device is not plugged in. If you see incorrect command error then you did not download the SDK installer exe. Use this guide to get SDK running manually. 8) Type in adb shell 9) Type in su. Troubleshooting: If you get command not found then you have not rooted your device. If you get permission denied then you have not enable root access in Super User app on the device(open your device and Super User should pop up asking for access => press OK. Type su again if the menu does not appear) 10) Type in cd data/app or if you dont see the apps you want, type in cd data/app-private instead 11) Note down the name of the .apks and location of the app you want. 12) Type exit to leave adb shell. You now see your local directory on the side. i.e. c:/something 13) Create a new folder in c: drive called androidapks 14) Type(without the quotes) adb pull data/app/"full name of apk" c:/androidapks or adb pull data/app-private/"full name of apk" c:/androidapks 15) Finished! Use this guide to reinstall the apps