The web is great and all, but depending on your workflow, keeping specific windows for dedicated tasks is the way to go. With Windows 11, Microsoft has made it possible to bring all your favorite apps to your PC – as long as they’re on the Amazon Appstore, that is. With such a limited selection, many Windows users could completely negate the feature. Luckily, we’re talking about Android apps here, so sideloading is absolutely an option.
While you absolutely can use ADB on Windows 11 to install any APK file, it’s not exactly the most intuitive process for many users. If you’re looking to try out some of your favorite mobile apps on the desktop, you don’t need to rely on command lines or Amazon’s suite of software. Instead, all you need is a simple GUI known as WSA PacMan – short for Package Manager – to turn any APK into a double-click install. Here’s how it works.
Take the Amazon Appstore
Because WSA PacMan is just an interface designed to streamline sideloading, you’ll still need to get the bones from Android support and get them working on Windows 11. You’ll need to install the OS first. ‘Amazon Appstore if you don’t already have it. , as it includes the Windows Subsystem for Android.
- Open the Microsoft Store on your computer.
- Search for “Amazon Appstore” using the search bar at the top of the page.
- Click on the “Get” option to install the application on your computer.
You don’t need to log into the Amazon Appstore – installing it is enough to add WSA to your device.
Unfortunately, the Appstore is only available in the US at this time, so non-US readers will need to go through a few steps to get WSA up and running. It’s a messy process, but the folks at XDA Developers have a great guide on how to get it on any computer – no Amazon Appstore required.
Get WSA PacMan up and running
Alright, with Windows Subsystem for Android ready to install on your PC, we’re one step closer to sideloading heaven. Here’s what you’ll need to do next.
- Using the Start menu, locate and open Windows Subsystem for Android.
- Make sure developer mode is enabled. Since all sideloading is done through ADB commands – even if you’re running a third-party GUI – this is a necessary step.
- Click “Manage Developer Settings”, then find USB debugging and enable it. This screen should look familiar to Android users – it’s the same menu you’ll find in any AOSP version.
- In the meantime, if you haven’t already, download WSA PacMan from GitHub by selecting the latest version under “Versions”. There is also a portable version if you prefer not to use an .exe file.
- Follow the installation process to run WSA PacMan on your computer, then open the application from the Start menu.
If everything is ready, you will see a “Connected” notification at the top of the app.
Install APK on Windows 11 with WSA PacMan
From there, you can close Windows Subsystem for Android and WSA PacMan, as they don’t need to be open to install APKs on your computer. After all, you’ve done the hard work – now all you need is an app to install.
Locate the APK file on your device or grab one from a site like APK Mirror and double-click it like any other .exe file on Windows. WSA PacMan takes care of the rest, prompting a message similar to what you would see on Android. You will also have the option to create a desktop shortcut for your application once installed.
From there, the application will work like any other software on your computer. It’s accessible from the Start menu, can be pinned to your taskbar, and even uninstalled with a single right-click. Just keep in mind that not all apps are guaranteed to work here. Streaming apps like Netflix, for example, are likely to encounter DRM-related issues, as Windows 11 does not currently support Winevine.
Whether Android apps on Windows 11 will spread remains an open question, but the ability to not rely on the Amazon Appstore certainly makes its future a little brighter. Fortunately, once WSA PacMan is set up, installing almost any of your favorite mobile apps or games is a breeze.
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