What are XPAK files, are they safe and how do you install them? Here's what you need to know about the format of the third-party app for Android.
Android's biggest selling point is its open source nature. While power user customization can get quite tricky on Android, installing an APK file is a good example of something that doesn't require much effort.
APK files have been around since the beginning of Android and are fairly easy to install. Installing an XAPK file, on the other hand, is not a very simple process. In this guide, we'll look at what an XAPK file is, how it differs from a regular APK file, and finally, how to install one.
What is an XAPK file?
When you understand what an APK file is, it becomes quite difficult to understand the existence of another file format that fulfills the same purpose as installing an app on your phone.
The best way to understand what an XAPK file is is to see it as an archived file containing a traditional APK file and a folder with additional app data. Smaller apps can make do with a single APK file to hold all the data inside, but larger apps and games require larger APK files and folders to compress the data.
Developers have taken this approach to counter the 100MB package file limit imposed on all apps and games uploaded to the Google Play Store. You will find XAPK files on third-party app stores or elsewhere online, not on the Play Store.
To top it all off, an XAPK file consists of an APK file and an OBB file containing additional data. In some cases, some XAPK files are also bundles containing more than one APK file, better known as Split APK.
How is an XAPK file different from an APK file?
While both types of files have the same ultimate goal of installing a functional app, the way the Android operating system handles them is very different. To put it simply, your phone doesn't know what to do with an XAPK file and sees it as another file extension that it can't understand.
On the other hand, an APK file is instantly recognized by Android as an installation file and allows you to sideload the app after obtaining the required permissions.
So the next time you come across an app you want to side-load in an XAPK format, know that you simply can't install it using the default Android package installer.
How to install an XAPK file (APK + OBB)
Fortunately, installing an XAPK file only takes a couple of additional steps. There are third-party app stores for Android that can do this for you in the blink of an eye, but we strongly recommend that you don't use any app stores other than the Play Store unless you are absolutely certain of their integrity.
We also recommend that you download APK or XAPK files only from reputable websites.
- Using a file management application of your choice, locate the XAPK file you just downloaded.
- Long press on the file, tap Rhinomine and change the file extension from XAPK to ZIP. For example, if the original file is called “app-name.xapk”, change it to “app-name.zip”.
- The phone should now recognize the file as a normal compressed folder. Long press on the file and extract it to a specified folder.
- The extracted folder should contain an APK file, a folder named Android, and a PNG file which is not important.
- Open the folder Android and you should see another folder inside it. Copy this folder to Internal memory > Android > OBB .
- Once done, go back to the extracted folder and install the APK file as you normally would, just tap on it. If prompted, allow the file manager to install apps from unknown sources.
For devices running Android 11 and later, Google has made it quite difficult for third-party file managers to make changes within the Data and OBB folders.
If you have not been able to copy the OBB folder using the file manager on your Android phone, you have one of two options. You can try using your stock file manager or the Files by Google app to move the OBB folder.
Or, if that fails, you can connect your phone to a computer and move files using File Explorer on Windows or Finder on macOS.
How to install a split APK file
A split APK file follows a different approach to installing an app than an XAPK file bundled with an OBB folder. Developers often divide an app's resources into two APK files. The main file can contain the code needed to run the app, while the other file can consist of libraries for a specific system architecture.
If the XAPK file you extracted is a combination of two or more APK files, installing it won't be that simple. A split APK installation requires a special tool that will do the job for you. We recommend the Split APK installer.
Download: Split APKs Installer (SAI) (free, in-app purchases)
To install an XAPK file containing split APKs:
- Open the Split APKs Installer app and tap the button Install APKs .
- Choose one of the two file selection options and go to the folder where you extracted the XAPK file.
- Choose the respective APK files and tap Select .
- A dialog box will appear with information about the selected base and configuration APKs. Just tap Install .
- When prompted, tap the switch Allow from this source to allow the app to install the APK.
How to uninstall XAPK files
In case you start to notice that an app is misbehaving or asking for permissions that it clearly doesn't need, we highly recommend that you get rid of it.
You can uninstall an app by going to Settings> Apps and notifications by selecting the app and tapping the button Uninstall , or by simply long-pressing the app icon and dragging it towards the label Uninstall on the home screen. To be more careful, you can manually delete the OBB folder to delete all traces of the app.