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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.


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.)



Step 3. Download and unzip


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.


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.


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


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.


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!


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

adb install PutNameOfAPKFileHERE.apk


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


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.



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

  1. Rocky says:

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

  2. Darin Ayler says:

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

  3. StopBn says:

    Where are people posting what apps work best at?

  4. Nikola says:

    How to uninstall something?

  5. Kelvin Reid says:

    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.

  6. Brian says:

    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?

  7. Suraj says:

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

    • Rishaad says:

      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 says:

        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 says:

          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

  8. Rishaad says:

    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.

  9. Philip says:

    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

  10. david says:

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

  11. raymond says:

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

  12. dre says:

    Are you able to install fb and instagram

  13. stenkall says:

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

  14. Sas Luca says:

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

  15. georgen77 says:

    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 says:

      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.

  16. Milby says:

    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 says:

      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 says:

        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.

  17. Nguyen says:

    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

  18. onur says:

    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 says:

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

      • Jon T says:

        Hey guys just an FYI i got the device showing on my mac by downloading the SDK for android from here 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 says:

          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 says:

            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.

  19. nathan says:

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

    • Suz says:

      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 says:

        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

  20. Pingback: Come caricare app sul Gear via adb - Forum Android Italiano

  21. TechWiz says:

    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?

  22. rafael says:

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

  23. Darren says:

    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.

  24. Darren says:

    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.

  25. reniel says:

    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 says:

      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.

  26. prateek says:

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

  27. MarkJaye says:

    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?

  28. RORO says:

    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?

  29. JonT says:

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

  30. I was able to get everything working with MacBookAir Galaxy Gear and above steps. Only thing is do not use the fast 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.

  31. Danijel says:

    has no key for Driver Turbo

  32. paul F says:

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

  33. Matei says:


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

  34. James says:

    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!

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