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adb – How do I get an apk file from an Android device?

Posted by: admin March 10, 2020 Leave a comment


How do I get the apk file from an android device? Or how do I transfer the apk file from device to system?

How to&Answers:

Use adb. With adb pull you can copy files from your device to your system, when the device is attached with USB.

Of course you also need the right permissions to access the directory your file is in. If not, you will need to root the device first.

If you find that many of the APKs are named “base.apk” you can also use this one line command to pull all the APKs off a phone you can access while renaming any “base.apk” names to the package name. This also fixes the directory not found issue for APK paths with seemingly random characters after the name:

for i in $(adb shell pm list packages | awk -F':' '{print $2}'); do adb pull "$(adb shell pm path $i | awk -F':' '{print $2}')"; mv base.apk $i.apk 2&> /dev/null ;done

If you get “adb: error: failed to stat remote object” that indicates you don’t have the needed permissions. I ran this on a NON-rooted Moto Z2 and was able to download ALL the APKs I did not uninstall (see below) except youtube.

adb shell pm uninstall --user 0 com.android.cellbroadcastreceiver   <--- kills presidential alert app!

(to view users run adb shell pm list users)
This is a way to remove/uninstall (not from the phone as it comes back with factory reset) almost ANY app WITHOUT root INCLUDING system apps (hint the annoying update app that updates your phone line it or not can be found by grepping for “ccc”)


None of these suggestions worked for me, because Android was appending a sequence number to the package name to produce the final APK file name. On more recent versions of Android (Oreo and Pie), an unpredictable random string is appended. The following sequence of commands is what worked for me on a non-rooted device:

1) Determine the package name of the app, e.g. “com.example.someapp”. Skip this step if
you already know the package name.

adb shell pm list packages

Look through the list of package names and try to find a match between the app in question and the package name. This is usually easy, but note that the package name can be completely unrelated to the app name. If you can’t recognize the app from the list of package names, try finding the app in Google Play using a browser. The URL for an app in Google Play contains the package name.

2) Get the full path name of the APK file for the desired package.

adb shell pm path com.example.someapp

The output will look something like

3) Using the full path name from Step 2, pull the APK file from the Android device to the development box.

adb pull /data/app/com.example.someapp-2.apk path/to/desired/destination


No root is required:

This code will get 3rd party packages path with the name so you can easily identify your APK

adb shell pm list packages -f -3

the output will be


now pull that package using below code:

adb pull /data/app/XX.XX.XX.apk

if you executed above cmd in C:>\ , then you will find that package there.


I’ve seen that many solutions to this problem either you have to root your phone or you have to install an app. Then after much googling I got this solution for non rooted/rooted phones.

To list which apps you got so far.

adb shell pm list packages

Then you may select an app, for instance twitter

adb backup -apk com.twitter.android

An important thing here is to not set up a password for encrypt your backup

This is going to create a file named as backup.ap, but you still can’t open it. For this you got to extract it again but using the dd command.

dd if=backup.ab bs=24 skip=1 | openssl zlib -d > backup.tar

After this all you have to do is to extract the tar content and it’s done.

Hope it works for you guys


C:\Users\xyz>adb shell pm list packages -f | findstr whatsapp

C:\Users\xyz>adb pull /data/app/com.whatsapp-1/base.apk Desktop
/data/app/com.whatsapp-1/base.apk: 1 f.... 13.8 MB/s (32803925 bytes in 


Steps to Download APK from Device to Desktop

A) Make sure that your running (emulator/real Device). To check use this command

adb devices

B) Select all the available package list installed in your device. You can use grep command to select the specific package you intend to download.

adb shell pm list packages
adb shell pm list packages -f -3

Output (List of available packages )


C) Copy the package (which you like to download) from the above link. Form our case I choose this (com.example.myapplication) package

Syntax : adb shell pm path [your_package_name]
Command: adb shell pm path com.example.myapplication



D) Finally, To download APK from your (emulator/real device)

Syntax : adb pull /data/app/[your_package_name]-1/base.apk  [your_destination_path]
Command: adb pull /data/app/com.example.myapplication-3j4CVk0Tb2gysElgjz5O6A==/base.apk /Users/$(whoami)/Documents/your_apk.apk

Example: Trying to pull this CertInstaller.apk file in your local machine ( Mac )

adb pull /system/app/CertInstaller/CertInstaller.apk /Users/$(whoami)/Documents/APK/download_apk/

E) Confirm in your local directory

ls -la /Users/$(whoami)/Documents/


One liner which works for all Android versions:

adb shell 'cat `pm path com.example.name | cut -d':' -f2`' > app.apk


Completing @Yojimbo ‘s answer, this is what I did (Linux/Mac only, will not work out of the box on Windows… maybe in git’s bash shell):

for i in $(adb shell pm list packages -f -3 | cut -d= -f 1 | cut -d ":" -f 2); do adb pull $i; done

This is ugly bash, but works 🙂

It no longer works on AndroidM: all files are named “base.apk” under another dir. Should be “trivial” to fix.


On unix systems, you can try this function:

function android_pull_apk() {
    if [ -z "$1" ]; then
        echo "You must pass a package to this function!"
        echo "Ex.: android_pull_apk \"com.android.contacts\""
        return 1

    if [ -z "$(adb shell pm list packages | grep $1)" ]; then
        echo "You are typed a invalid package!"
        return 1

    apk_path="`adb shell pm path $1 | sed -e 's/package://g' | tr '\n' ' ' | tr -d '[:space:]'`"
    apk_name="`adb shell basename ${apk_path} | tr '\n' ' ' | tr -d '[:space:]'`"

    mkdir -p "$destination"

    adb pull ${apk_path} ${destination}
    echo -e "\nAPK saved in \"$destination/$apk_name\""
  • Example: android_pull_apk com.android.contacts
  • Note: To identify the package: adb shell pm list packages


As said above, you can get the apk by using the pull command in adb.

Since, you are talking about your installed applications, go ahead and look in the /data/app directory of your Android filesystem. You will find the APK’s there.

Then use the adb command – adb pull /data/data/appname.apk


Try this one liner bash command to backup all your apps:

for package in $(adb shell pm list packages -3 | tr -d '\r' | sed 's/package://g'); do apk=$(adb shell pm path $package | tr -d '\r' | sed 's/package://g'); echo "Pulling $apk"; adb pull -p $apk "$package".apk; done

This command is derived from Firelord’s script. I just renamed all apks to their package names for solving the issue with elcuco’s script, i.e the same base.apk file getting overwritten on Android 6.0 “Marshmallow” and above.

Note that this command backs up only 3rd party apps, coz I don’t see the point of backing up built-in apps. But if you wanna backup system apps too, just omit the -3 option.


If you know (or if you can “guess”) the path to the .apk (it seems to be of the format /data/app/com.example.someapp-{1,2,..}.apk to , then you can just copy it from /data/app as well. This worked even on my non-rooted, stock Android phone.

Just use a Terminal Emulator app (such as this one) and run:

# step 1: confirm path
ls /data/app/com.example.someapp-1.apk
# if it doesn't show up, try -2, -3. Note that globbing (using *) doesn't work here.
# step 2: copy (make sure you adapt the path to match what you discovered above)
cp /data/app/com.example.someapp-1.apk /mnt/sdcard/

Then you can move it from the SD-card to wherever you want (or attach it to an email etc). The last bit might be technically optional, but it makes your life a lot easier when trying to do something with the .apk file.


The procedures outlined here do not work for Android 7 (Nougat) [and possibly Android 6, but I’m unable to verify]. You can’t pull the .apk files directly under Nougat (unless in root mode, but that requires a rooted phone). But, you can copy the .apk to an alternate path (say /sdcard/Download) on the phone using adb shell, then you can do an adb pull from the alternate path.


  1. Open the app you wish to extract the apk from on your phone.
  2. Get the currently opened app with:

    adb shell dumpsys activity activities | grep mFocusedActivity
  3. Get the path to the package name

    adb shell pm path <packagename.apk>

4.Copy the path you got to the sdcard directory

    adb shell cp /data/app/<packagename.apk> /sdcard

5.Pull the apk

    adb pull /sdcard/base.apk


If step no 2 doesn’t work use this:

adb shell dumpsys window windows | grep mCurrentFocus


Here’s how you do it:

Download and install APK Extractor in your device. It is free, and is compatible in almost all of the Android devices. Another plus point is it does not even require root or anything to work.
After you have it installed, launch it. There you will see a list of apps which are in your device, which include the apps you’ve installed later, along with the system apps. Long press any app you want to extract (you can select multiple or all apps at once), and click on the extract option you see in the top. You will also have the option to share via Bluetooth or messaging.
You’re done, you will see the extracted apps as AppName_AppPackage_AppVersionName_AppVersionCode.apk, which will be saved in the path /sdcard/ExtractedApks/ by default.

For detailed description for how to extract apk files in android, visit: http://appslova.com/how-to-extract-apk-files-in-android/


All these answers require multiple steps for each apk file retrieved from the device. 1. determine package name, 2. find the file, and 3. download it. I built a simple apk_grabber python script to do this for any app that matches a given regex, and then decompiles those apks into jar files.


I haven’t used code to pull .apk file from mobile but i have been using software to extract .apk file from mobile and software i have used are below with google play link:

  1. ES File Explorer File Manager
  2. ASTRO Cloud & File Manager
    3.Software Data Cable

Hope it helps You.


wanna very, very comfortable 1 minute solution?

just you this app https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cvinfo.filemanager (smart file manager from google play).

tap “apps”, choose one and tap “backup”. it will end up on your file system in app_backup folder 😉


No Root and no ADB tools required method.
Install MyAppSharer app from the play store.


I got a does not exist error

Here is how I make it works

adb shell pm list packages -f | findstr zalo

adb shell
mido:/ $ cp /data/app/com.zing.zalo-1/base.apk /sdcard/zalo.apk
mido:/ $ exit

adb pull /sdcard/zalo.apk Desktop

/sdcard/zalo.apk: 1 file pulled. 7.7 MB/s (41895394 bytes in 5.200s)


Yet another bash script (i.e. will work for most unix-based systems). Based on the answer by Pedro Rodrigues, but is slightly easier to use.

Improvements over Pedro’s version:

  1. Original approach did not work for me on Android 7: adb pull kept complaining about no such file or directory while adb shell could access the file. Hence I used different approach, with temporary file.
  2. When launched with no arguments, my script will just list all available packages. When partial package name is provided, it will try to guess the full package name. It will complain if there are several possible expansions.
  3. I don’t hardcode destination path; instead APKs are saved to current working directory.

Save this to an executable file:

# Obtain APK file for given package from the device connected over ADB

if [ -z "$1" ]; then
    echo "Available packages: "
    adb shell pm list packages | sed 's/^package://'
    echo "You must pass a package to this function!"
    echo "Ex.: android_pull_apk \"com.android.contacts\""
    exit 1

fullname=$(adb shell pm list packages | sed 's/^package://' | grep $1)
if [ -z "$fullname" ]; then
    echo "Could not find package matching $1"
    exit 1
if [ $(echo "$fullname" | wc -l) -ne 1 ]; then
    echo "Too many packages matched:"
    echo "$fullname"
    exit 1
echo "Will fetch APK for package $fullname"

apk_path="`adb shell pm path $fullname | sed -e 's/package://g' | tr '\n' ' ' | tr -d '[:space:]'`"
apk_name="`basename ${apk_path} | tr '\n' ' ' | tr -d '[:space:]'`"


tmp=$(mktemp --dry-run --tmpdir=/sdcard --suffix=.apk)
adb shell cp "${apk_path}" "$tmp"
adb pull "$tmp" "$destination"
adb shell rm "$tmp"

[ $? -eq 0 ] && echo -e "\nAPK saved in \"$destination\""


Simplest one is:
Install “ShareIt” app on phone.
Now install shareIt app in PC or other phone.
Now from the phone, where the app is installed, open ShareIt and send.
On other phone or PC, open ShareIt and receive.


I really liked all these answers.
Most scripts to export and rename all of them were written in Bash.
I made a small Perl script which does the same (which should work both in Perl for windows and linux, only tested on Ubuntu).


#!/usr/bin/perl -w
# Automatically export all available installed APK's using adb
use strict;
print "Connect your device...\n";
system("adb", "wait-for-device");
open(my $OUT, '-|', 'adb', 'shell', 'pm', 'list', 'package', '-f');
my @list = split(/\s*/, `adb shell pm list packages -f`);
my $count = 0;
while(my $line = <$OUT>) {
        $line =~ s/^\s*|\s*$//g;
        my ($type, $path, $package) = $line =~ /^(.*?):(.*)=(.*)$/ ? ($1,$2,$3) : die('invalid line: '.$line);
        my $category = $path =~ /^\/(.*?)\// ? $1 : 'unknown';
        my $baseFile = $path =~ /\/([^\/]*)$/ ? $1 : die('Unknown basefile in path: '.$path);
        my $targetFile = "$category-$package.apk";
        print "$type $category $path $package $baseFile >> $targetFile\n";
        system("adb", "pull", $path);
        rename $baseFile, $targetFile;
  1. Make sure adb(.exe) is in your path or same directory
  2. Connect your phone
  3. Run download-apk.pl

The output is something similar to:

# ./download-apk.pl
Connect your device...
* daemon not running. starting it now on port 5037 *
* daemon started successfully *
package system /system/app/YouTube/YouTube.apk com.google.android.youtube YouTube.apk >> system-com.google.android.youtube.apk
5054 KB/s (11149871 bytes in 2.154s)
package data /data/app/com.ghostsq.commander-1/base.apk com.ghostsq.commander base.apk >> data-com.ghostsq.commander.apk
3834 KB/s (1091570 bytes in 0.278s)
package data /data/app/de.blinkt.openvpn-2/base.apk de.blinkt.openvpn base.apk >> data-de.blinkt.openvpn.apk
5608 KB/s (16739178 bytes in 2.914s)


This will help for someone who is looking for a non technical answer

This is simple hack

Download the application App Share/Send Pro from google play store. Select the app you want to send and method send application.

I usually use Bluetooth to send applications to my pc or another phone.