How to sideload Apps on Motorola Atrix without rooting

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How to sideload Apps on Motorola Atrix without rooting

Post  Ap0c on Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:54 pm

First, this is specifically for those folks who unfortunately are using AT&T. That's right, you know who you are. For some reason I can't explain, I'm still using it as well. The problem with Android phones on AT&T is that the carrier sets the phones so that they CANNOT install any programs that aren't on the Google Market. It's like saying your computer can't install any programs except those from Walmart - it's dumb and offensive. However, thanks to the beauty of open source stuff, sideloading programs is pretty easy and straightforward on the Motorola Atrix. Here's what to do.

1. INSTALL THE JAVA DEVELOPMENT KIT VERSION OF JAVA. You likely have Java on your computer already, but you don't have the right one. I think it's best to get rid of the one you have. In XP, which I'm still running, you need to click 'start', then 'set program access and defaults' right above 'printers'. This opens a dialog. Choose the top left option 'change or remove programs' - scroll down and uninstall anything and everything that starts with 'java'. Java is a dog, so even uninstalling takes a while. Be patient. When your computer is 'clean' from Java, you need to get the correct version, the 'JDK', standing for Java Development Kit, which is what we'll need. Go here and click the button marked Download JDK in the box for Java Standard Edition. Download and install. Now you have the right Java.

2. INSTALL THE GOOGLE ANDROID SDK. In order to load programs on our phone that AT&T doesn't want us to, we need to pretend that we're programmers interested in developing Android apps! Not really, but we use the same tools. This is Google's program that customizes your Java environment to let you make Android programs. Go here and click the one marked 'recommended'. Download, double click, and install. Once it 'installs' you aren't done, though, it will ask you to Choose packages to install. You really only need the one marked 'platform tools', but the others don't hurt. That takes a while to download. Let that finish, then close the program.

3. INSTALL DRIVERS FOR PHONE. If you have installed all the Motorola crapware for syncing the phone and all that jazz, you already have this stuff installed. If not, you can either do that or use the stand-alone USB driver. Get that HERE That's more complicated to install. Basically, you need to first double-click to install it. Then it gets more complicated, but basically, if you set your phone to 'debug' mode, plug it in, and all goes well, you should be good. If Windows pops up the 'found new hardware' boxes, then you might need help. I don't exactly remember how I did this.

4. SET YOUR PHONE TO 'DEBUG' MODE. Didn't know you had bugs did you? This is basically a setting that is intended to be used in program development and I don't know why AT&T lets it on there, but it's our window to sideloading. From your main screen, tap the Menu button, then Settings. In the list, tap Applications, then tap Development. The top option is "USB debugging" - make sure that is selected.

5. GET THE PROGRAM YOU WANT TO INSTALL. Android programs are usually in .apk files. If you downloaded one that isn't from the Android Market on the Atrix, the phone will complain and fail to install it, thanks to AT&T. You need to get an .apk file to install. If you are bothering to read this, you know what you want to do anyway.

6. CONNECT YOUR PHONE TO YOUR COMPUTER. Use the data cable (pull the usb plug out from the charging brick, for you 'slow' people) and plug it in the computer. Once you are done with popups and annoyances, you'll have to confirm that you are connected properly to do the sideloading. To do that, you'll need to use DOS, sorry. Click Start, then Run, then type 'cmd' in the box (if it isn't already there) and hit ok. This will pop up the console. You'll need to change to the directory where the google program is that we want to use. Type "cd c:\program files\android\android-sdk\platform-tools" This SHOULD change the directory to where the google goodies are stored. Now, type "adb devices" and words should pop up saying "list of devices attached". if you see something like TA20706ish and device, then you're connected. If you see nothing, you did something wrong and you have to recheck the steps.

7. PUT THE .APK FILE YOU WANT TO INSTALL IN THE DIRECTORY. This is probably insultingly simplistic, but you need to find the .apk file, gotten from wherever, and copy it into the same directory - program files\android\android-sdk\platform-tools. Some people want you to mess with paths, but don't bother. Just copy the file in.

8. INSTALL IT!! If you did everything right, all you need to do is type 'adb install nameoffile.apk' and it will install 'nameoffile.apk' on your phone. It will tell you if it worked. Then unplug, check your applications list, and you should be golden. You have avoided the AT&T mom-guards! You hacker! Once you have the right tools installed, this is incredibly easy to do, no rooting, hacking, or other phone-mangling needed.

If you have any problems, just post.


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Post  cbeard41 on Sun Jun 26, 2011 5:06 pm

im using windows 7 i followed the steps as far as dowloading java ect after all of those instructions i typed in cmd and the commands and it didnt work so are there other commands for window 7


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It works!

Post  fffz on Sun Jul 17, 2011 2:16 am

Thank you!


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Post  user_123 on Mon Jul 18, 2011 4:44 pm

I keep getting the install failed older sdk error, even after I updated my sdk. What to do?


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Re: How to sideload Apps on Motorola Atrix without rooting

Post  Phoenix on Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:27 pm

Worked perfectly for me, thanks for the help getting this app installed!


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Post  billfixi on Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:16 am

To do this on Win7, you have to do the Command Prompt as Administrator. Find the Command prompt app (Same place as evver: Start-->All Programs-->Accessories-->Command Prompt), and right click it and selct Run as Administrator. Then CD up to the Platform Tools dir (C:\Program Files (x86)\Android\android-sdk\platform-tools on my machine) and follow the adb directiosn above.

If you already tried it the other way first and this is still failing, you may still ahve an old instance of adb running without admin rights. Run the task manager, find adb, and kill it. Then start over in that command window we just created above.


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almost worked

Post  ashfox on Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:25 am

This guide worked well for me up until step 6. Not sure if it matters but I'm using Windows 7.
Like the person above I had to first use a different path, and then entering adb devices gave the error "adb is not recognized as an internal or external command"

Anyway, I had to follow the steps from this page to get everything working.

After that I continued to follow the steps on this page, but when I tried to install an apk I got the error "can't find '______.apk' to install.

I followed the advice on this page to put the full path to the apk with quotes around it like
"adb install "c:\docume....""

Only after all that did I get everything working. Smile


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Post  ashfox on Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:29 am

For some reason it didn't post the urls I typed...


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