How to Install APK Files to Galaxy Gear! [Win/Mac/Linux]

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I know many of you requested me to show you how to install APK files to your Galaxy Gear using ADB and this will allow you to install any regular Android apps onto your Galaxy Gear.

Now, not all Android apps work out of the box on the Galaxy Gear but you will find many do work including Nova launcher, which can give you a fresh, vanilla Android UI over Galaxy Gear’s watch UI.

By installing APK files to your Galaxy Gear, you can essentially turn it into a standalone Android device.  And of course enjoy regular Android apps not offered by the Samsung App Store.

Step 1. Go to Settings->Gear info on your Galaxy Gear.

howto-install-apk-files-galaxygear-1

Step 2. Make sure “USB debug” is checked ON then connect a micro-USB cable from your Galaxy Gear to your computer.  (Yes, you will need to put your USB cover back on.)

howto-install-apk-files-galaxygear-2

howto-install-apk-files-galaxygear-3

Step 3. Download and unzip fastboot.zip.

Download fastboot.zip

Download and copy over any APK files you want to install such as Nova launcher, games, and other apps.  You can simply Google any APK files you want to download, usually you will be able to find it easily using Google.  (e.g. Google “Angry Birds APK” for Angry Birds)

You can download Nova launcher APK here that I used in the video.

howto-install-apk-files-galaxygear-4

Step 4. If you are using Mac or Linux, you don’t need drivers so skip this step.  If you are using Windows, make sure you see “SAMSUNG Android ADB Interface” in your Device Manager.  If you don’t see it, download and install Samsung USB drivers, then unplug and re-plug the micro-USB cable to your Galaxy Gear.

howto-install-apk-files-galaxygear-5

Step 5. Open a terminal for Mac/Linux or command prompt for Windows. (If you don’t know how to do this, please Google it!)

Next, type:

For Windows:

cd Downloads

cd fastboot

adb devices

For Mac:

cd Downloads

cd fastboot

chmod 755 *

./adb-mac devices

For Linux:

cd Downloads

cd fastboot

chmod 755 *

./adb-linux devices

howto-install-apk-files-galaxygear-6

Step 6. Go to your Galaxy Gear and you should hit “OK” when the “Allow USB debugging” window pops up.  If the window does not pop-up, try killing adb.exe in Task Manager for Windows or try command “kill adb” for Mac/Linux, and try Step 5 again.

howto-install-apk-files-galaxygear-7

Step 7. Go back to terminal/command prompt and type:

adb devices

*For Mac, replace all “adb” with “./adb-mac” for the rest of the instruction.

*For Linux, replace all adb with “./adb-linux” for the rest of the instruction.

You should see “device”.  If you do, you are good to go!

howto-install-apk-files-galaxygear-8

Step 8. Next you can use the following command to install any APK file you want:

adb install PutNameOfAPKFileHERE.apk

howto-install-apk-files-galaxygear-9

Step 9. Once apps are installed, they will show up under “Apps” on your Galaxy Gear.

howto-install-apk-files-galaxygear-10

If you installed Nova launcher or any other 3rd party launchers, you will have a choice to select TouchWiz home (which is Galaxy Gear launcher) or your installed launcher so you can switch easily back and forth between Galaxy Gear UI and Android UI.

howto-install-apk-files-galaxygear-11

howto-install-apk-files-galaxygear-12

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Max Lee

Max Lee is the founder of HighOnAndroid.com. Max makes Android tutorials and review videos for people who want to get high on Android over at his YouTube channel.

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  • Rocky

    Would Dragon mobile assistant work on the galaxy gear if I install it via this method? S Voice blows….

    • StopBn

      I would like to know this as well.

  • Darin Ayler

    You put Dolphin Browser on the gear in your video. How can you get it access to the web? proxy through Bluetooth?

    • itakeshotz

      I also can’t get on the web

  • StopBn

    Where are people posting what apps work best at?

    • Gsan

      I woulld like to know as well.

  • Nikola

    How to uninstall something?

    • Samueljh1

      You can do this with: adb uninstall (package name) An Example of this could be: adb uninstall com.mojang.minecraftpe

  • Kelvin Reid

    I am having trouble with your commands for Mac when trying to input the commands. I get to step 5 nothing happens. Can you give me an update please I would love to install Nova on my watch.

    • jose

      Did u ever get a response to this? I’m also having issues on this stage

      • TechWiz

        Same here, on step 5 my device shows as offline and no popup message shows up :(

        • MarkJaye

          Did anyone find a way to get past the “step 5″ where no internet appears to prevent many apps from installing? I’m getting the same thing on most apk files on the final step – making them unusable. I didn’t see a fix. Anyone?

          • JonT

            Look down to my reply to Onur and Techwiz

  • Brian

    im trying to install Apollo music player on my galaxy gear. I have the APK, but when I download it, it shows as a zip file. I tried to place it in fastboot but its not working. how do I install it?

    • Kjoere

      unzip it first, apk inside?

  • Suraj

    Hey please tell me how to uninstall apps from my Galaxy Gear?

    • Rishaad

      Hi
      I am trying to find out the same thing.
      I have tried using the “adb uninstall” command but it fails.
      Nervous to put on more apps to try if it cant be removed.
      Please let me know if you find a solution.
      Thank you.

      • RW

        Use Nova launcher to remove apps! You can uninstall evey app on the gear and you don’t even have to connect it to the computer!

        • Milby

          Can you pleace tell me exactley how to uninstall apk:s from my watch. I downloaded the Nova launcher to my note 3 and still don’t know how to uninstall the apk:s out frome my gear. thank you for all your help you can give me. /Sweden Milby

          • JonT

            Press and hold and drag up to uninstall on nova

            • RayW

              how to uninstall nova then ??

        • RayW

          How to uninstall Nova ?

      • Samueljh1

        You can do this with: adb uninstall (package name) an Example of this could be:  uninstall com.mojang.minecraftpe

  • Rishaad

    RW – You are a star. Thank you. Nova is working well.

    Just wish I could add the standard digital clock widget to the bottom screen on the nova launcher so when the wake up gesture activates and launches Nova I would still be able to see the time. I have tried but I get an “app not installed error”. I have never used anything but the standard UI on either my phone or the watch.

  • Philip

    I installed everything properly but i cant download any apks on anything. it installed on my note 3 lol but not on my pc or my galaxy gear. How do I download the apk? Thanks

  • david

    i followed your steps but once i enter cd downloads it says the system cannot find the path specified

    • Sas Luca

      Did you wrote downloads like this “Downloads” or like this “downloads”. The “D” must be upper case.

  • raymond

    the fastboot link does not have nothing in it please send me the link to download fastboot please

  • dre

    Are you able to install fb and instagram

  • stenkall

    USB-debug seems to be removed since last update, is there any way around?

    • Enrico

      typ softwar.-Version in “Info” on Gear ten times, then you can see it.

  • Sas Luca

    Can you also show us hoe to install TWRP and Null rom onto the Galaxy Gear? Please.

  • georgen77

    thanks to the author for the thorough explanation.
    still have two questions – 1. how do i get internet to the watch?
    2. how does one get an onscreen keyboard on the gear. thank you in advance

    • JJJared

      Exact problem I have. I need to figure out how to uninstall dolphin browser as well because I don’t know how to get it connected to the internet or how to use a keyboard with it.

  • Milby

    Hey please tell me how to uninstall apps from my Galaxy Gear?

    I tried out instead of typing “install” in the cmd to write “uninstall” butt that did’t work hehe
    Some one told me that Nova laucher could fix this butt I don’t know how.
    Someone who can help me? /Milby from Sweden

    • Oximer

      You can uninstall you app using yout gear manager in your cellphone. The app has a lot of bugs, but you can delete on item per time, and have disconnect and connect again after install a new app to it appear on your cellphone gear manager.

      • JJJared

        That didn’t work for me. I need to uninstall dolphin browser because I don’t know how to get it connected to the internet or how to use a keyboard with it.

    • Samueljh1

      Do adb uninstall package-nameEg: adb uninstall com.mojang.minecraftpe

  • Nguyen

    i tried doing this on my iMac but it doesn’t seem to work when i get to the step of putting in

    cd Downloads

    cd fastboot

    chmod 755 * …….this code doesn’t work

    ./adb-mac devices

  • onur

    i am using mac, in terminal window my devices is indicating offline. So that i can not install nova or another apt to device. is there anyway to solve this problem?

    • TechWiz

      Same problem, always showing offline never showing device in terminal.

      • Jon T

        Hey guys just an FYI i got the device showing on my mac by downloading the SDK for android from here http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html and installing When the SDK finishes downloading, Unzip it and the contents of the “android-sdk-mac_x86″ folder into your android folder.

        when done, open your android folder. Go into the tools folder inside of it. Double click on the file called “android” This file is a UNIX executable and will open within a Terminal window and the android SDK manager.

        check the folder called tools. Make sure both “Android SDK Tools” and “Android SDK Platform-tools” are selected within the tools folder. Click install and wait.

        When they finish downloading, go into the platform-tools folder inside your android folder, then copy adb and fastboot and paste them into the root of your fastboot folder that you got from here.

        Now you can follow the instructions above but now don’t need to put -mac after adb one thing to note i found it was necessary to put “./” in front of the install comand ie. “./adb install” on my mac and you should open your activity monitor to kill the adb-mac or adb process that is running befor looking for the device again.

        Hope this helps

        • MarkJaye

          Jon T, thanks again (already commented once before) but I have both the “adb” and “fastboot” applications in my fastboot folder. I’ve successfully installed an run Color Note and Nova Launcher. I have also installed both “Fleksy” and a couple of other apps but when I touch the icon it goes through the same 5 step install on my watch screen. Step 5 says “Last step: Please install the application from the list above…” But there is NO LIST. And the app doesn’t finish installing.

          Any advice?

          • JonT

            Not sure man I assumed you where a mac user because you replied to a mac question I guess I would say you should try looking around for a different APK file/ version if your installing via terminal it should not need to reinstall on the watch. Also its normal if you get a no internet on the watch as there is none not sure if there is a bluetooth tethering option yet for this nova install. Im thinking of trying the Null rom its got good reviews I just Don’t want to lose any of the out if box features when I do.

  • nathan

    On my gear there is no option to choose debugging, but I swear it use to be there. Any ideas?

    • Suz

      Same thing happened to me, the usb debug option is gone. I even restored my watch to factory settings. I wonder if it is part of the update? The open source info still shows though. Very annoying…

      • Thien Nguyen

        Yeah go to settings then go to about gear ..then keep tapping software version..that’ll open up USB settings…when I restored mine back to factory I restored it to UK version and I figured that if you keep tapping software version it should come back

        • nathan

          Got it working now. Thanks for your help.

  • TechWiz

    On my Macbook Pro the device always shows as “Offline”, even after i enter “Kill adb” and retry step 5 a million times with USB debugging turned ON on the watch. Does this mean i can’t runt Nova on it? Gosh darn. Can someone help?

  • rafael

    can i install TWRP recovery on Galaxy Gear using ADB /FASTBOOT? AND HOW?

  • Darren

    I have install and run Evernote, Pandora, Instagram, tuneinradio, facebook, I can start my car from my watch with Onstar link app, dropbox, google drive, Heytell, shazam all work using bluetooth tethering for internet.

    • raymond

      how did you get Pandora to run i install it but every time i try to go into the app it say pandora has stopped

  • Darren

    Oh almost forgot, I use the null-rom, It has a working keyboard, Nova launcher with working and installable widgets, custom ringtones that I installed myself using wonder share. I’m still looking for more to add so if you all have anything that I don’t already have listed please post what else works.

    • rude dude

      Can u tell me how u did that?
      I rooted
      flash twrp
      load null rom
      reboot to recovery and i get factory reset
      What am I missing?
      Thank you

  • reniel

    i follow all step and when start adb install “Nova Launcher_2.3.apk” it says can’t find Nova Launcher_2.3.apk to install? help pls

    • Jeff

      You have to remove the spaces out of the name. Using command prompt will take the space in the name as a command and not as a space in the path name. So rename the file and remove the spaces and replace with _ or -. I had just deleted everything except for nova.apk.

  • prateek

    hey guyys plz tell me from wher i can download that fastboot software

  • MarkJaye

    Jon T: Thanks for the response – but I’m using windows 7 – and I have been able to install Color Note and Nova Launcher both with both running fine. However, when I go to install Fleksy – which has an icon on my Galaxy Gear – it goes to step 5 then says “no internet connection.” I believe I have both the “adb” and “fastboot” applications in my fastboot folder. Again, I’ve been able to install some apps and connect to the device using the command prompt and “adb install” command. Do I still need to add the unix version?

  • RORO

    followed your steps exactly and it wont install. i downloaded the fastboot, unzipped, adb devices shows my device, next I go to adb install candy.apk Nothing happens just sits there…what am I missing here?

  • JonT

    ./adb install candy.apk just like that or ./adb-mac if you renamed it all commands in mac terminal for this task start with ./

  • http://Nil Sandeep Wadhwa

    I was able to get everything working with MacBookAir Galaxy Gear and above steps. Only thing is do not use the fast boot.zip given above. Use the SDK downloaded from android site. Goto /sdk/platform-tools/ . Run ./adb from there with the galaxy gear connected and in debug mode. It Works!!!

    To put galaxy gear in debug mode. Tap 5 times on the Setting/gear info menu. The hidden debug option will come.

  • Danijel

    has no key for Driver Turbo

  • paul F

    Hi. Does anyone know if there is a way to connect the gear with a Galaxy Fame?

  • Matei

    Hello,

    I’ve installed the apk file for Adobe Reader. But I don’t know how to view pdfs on Gear.
    Please help!

    • Matei

      Can you help me, please?

  • James

    Hi! Can u tell me please if is possible to transfer pictures from computer direct in the smart watch? Like…jpeg’s?
    Thank you so much!
    James

  • britten

    Hi!
    I’m currently struggling on step 5.
    The pop up window wont show on my gear, and it says that the device is offline.
    I’m using a 64bit version of win7.
    Please respond asap :)

  • ryan

    Is it the same steps for the Galaxy Gear 2?

  • chris

    i have done everything corect but when i am trying to run a app…. says : no internet connection…. do you have a solution?

    • Boaz

      Connect de gear to your smartphone

  • hesham_azani

    How to Install APK Files to Galaxy Gear 2 ???????? plzzz help :(((((!??!?!?

  • Josh Strange

    I am trying to use bluetooth tethering. I installed a settings.apk but everytime i opened it it stopped working. Is there a working settings.apk or another way to do this?

  • Andy

    I have installed Tizen os on my galaxy gear. Can i still install APK files on it or does the os have to be android os? If so can i re install the android os and where do i download it?

    • Max Lee

      I don’t think so, with Tizen it’s completely different so…

  • Robert

    any idea on the gear 2 ?! can we do any of this with it ?!

  • vocab86

    First i Struggled a bit with CMD run as admin still not
    Once i used Powershell all responded well
    It workz (Nova) but now i would like to install custom clock apk’s from HTC (Sense4ClockWhite) and so o, adb install does not see the file within the fast boot folder

  • vocab86

    How to uninstall Nova from the Samsung Gear
    Can’t default to Home screen even after restart or shutdown
    Please help

  • pampah

    installed adb, device manager lists adb interface
    however cmd say device unauthorized. Check confirmation dialog on your device

  • Enrique Araujo

    hey you guys, i had a hard time since this was my first time doing somthing like this. but what i did that helped a lot. is when you get an apk file. rename it to just one word. so when you type adb install oneword.apk. u only use one word also put it into the same folder as fastboot. and guy who made this post, it would help noobs like me to say make a folder called fastboot in download folder and put everything in there. if you did say it, i missed it. and i had to figure it out on my own. hope that helps since no one here said anything like this. thanks btw now i have my watch hacked. ive been putting this off for the whole year lol ty ty ty ty

  • Sean

    Will this also work on the gear 2 or the neo?

  • dezonil

    Does Play store or Google maps work on Gear after this customization?

  • Bob

    Hi, I tried this and it seemed to work at first. The apps Colornote, Fleksy, and Shazam showed up on the watch. Then they all disappeared. If I try to redo it says they already exist. If I try to uninstall, it says it failed to uninstall. I’m using Windows 8 on my laptop just for the record. Please help.

    • Samueljh1

      Look at my reply above to see how to uninstall.

  • Samueljh1

    OK guys, you know how apps keep disappearing? I found A FIX!! Before installing, open gear manager and click apps. Then install the app. Then it should stay there!!!! Not only this, but if the app has widgets, you can use them!?

    • Kin

      hi,

      i have tired your method above. But when i reboot the gear, the installed-app were also disappeared on the app list? do you know why? Thx

  • Gabriel

    uh i think i found this helpless because the window of usb debugging won’t pop up and i have USB Debugging on. I’m on a mac. ANY FREAKING HELP?!?!?!?

  • PLOLUX

    Hi Forum. I need some help here..
    I followed all steps as explained in the video. When I am running the command “adp devices”, I am getting:
    * daemon not running. starting it now on port 5037 *
    * daemon started successfully *
    List of devices attached
    However on the Gear-s no message is appearing that I have to validate with OK. When I am running the install-command, I am getting “no devices attached… Waiting for device”. In windows file-explorer I can open the Gear without any probs an even create folders.
    What am I missing?

  • tarek ayman

    I have gear 2 neo and the pop window doesnt pop

  • tarek ayman

     I am getting:
    * daemon not running. starting it now on port 5037 *
    * daemon started successfully *
    List of devices attached
    However on the Gear-s no message is appearing that I have to validate with OK. When I am running the install-command, I am getting “no devices attached… Waiting for device”. In windows file-explorer I can open the Gear without any probs an even create folders.
    What am I missing?