ES File Explorer can no longer download APK files directly — Sideloading guide updated with solution


The file browser app ES File Explorer has a unique characteristic that no other official Fire TV or Fire TV Stick app posses. It is the only official app that can load a URL you enter and download a file. While that may seem insignificant to some of you, it’s important because that ability of ES FIle Explorer means it’s possible to sideload apps on Fire TV devices without needing anything external like a PC, a thumb drive, or a microSD card. It is by no means the most efficient way to sideload apps, but it is the most popular way because it can be done from your couch with just the Fire TV remote control. At some point, ES File Explorer lost the ability to directly download APK files from a website loaded in its built-in browser. There are thankfully a couple solutions to work around this new limitation, so I have updated my sideloading guide that uses ES File Explorer accordingly.

ES File Explorer’s recent inability to download an APK appears to be a limitation of the app itself, and not a system wide limitation. I’ve been able to successfully download APK files directly using other Fire TV apps, like web browsers, that I sideloaded. I was even able to get ES File Explorer to download an APK directly by formulating a special link on a test server that changes the HTTP mime type header.

The solution, which I’ve updated my sideloading guide to use, is to have ES File Explorer download a zipped version of the APK file that you wish to install, which ES File Explorer can then unzip. The app has no problems downloading zipped files. If a zipped version of the APK you want to install cannot be found, you can use an online zipping utility, directly from within ES File Explorer, to automatically convert an APK downlink link into a zipped download link.

  1. Manof says:

    ES has sucked for awhile now; the last good version being around before the bloat started getting shoveled in. Here’s a modded apk of that version with ads removed and updates blocked if anyone is interested:!JRhjQT4S!-dhr9DyKjCTJT4YJM-X3xgyfMO6GHoHMVQ5Ihg-bF50

    • Ujn Hunter says:

      Thanks. The worst part of this always connected/auto-updated world is that one time good Apps can turn to shit without your approval. Forced updates are the worst. #FreedomOfChoice!

    • Joe says:

      Any way to stop auto updating once this is installed?

      • Manof says:

        Yes, as I stated already it blocks updates. I think it does this by changing the version number to “999999999”. It removes the bloat and ads as well.

        The only flaws I’ve seen are in app view there is a banner of ad apps but you can hide this by changing the view style from large to medium or small icons. Also in Android 6+, the settings dropdown menu has a dark background which makes the text harder to read, but this goes away if you use dual bar window style. Otherwise, ES hasn’t changed since this version aside from all the added bloat.

  2. scofield says:

    sorry for the off topic question , but i really want to know if you know a way to make alexa control the kodi by voice commends, i have heard about it ” here and there” but never manage to do so…

    and thanks for your fantastic blog :)

    • I believe it’s possible using Samsung Smartthings. You would need to sign up for a dev account to get some community written device handlers and smart apps. You will also need a dev account for Alexa. Only way I’m aware of.

  3. John says:

    Es still working on (can download and install apks) I think is a fore OS 5 limitation…

  4. Alex says:

    You can use CetusPlay to sidelode the apk.

  5. ck says:

    I prefer total commander for the fire TV file managing, plus it’s free. Agkfire works perfectly for uploading and installing apks from any Android device over wireless advice.

  6. mook says:

    I use blackmart alpha to get and install my apps but you do need mouse toggle 1.06 to click on install.

  7. Ujn Hunter says:

    Personally I’ve always downloaded the APKs with my Android Phone, then FTP/Network drive Copy them to my Fire TV through ES File Explorer… but it really blows when developers remove features from Apps.

  8. Paul_Aris says:

    I found it easier to download them on my laptop and transfer to google drive and then go to the cloud and grab them there to load. A lot less headaches.

  9. xnamkcor says:

    Or you could download the apk with one of the many Android browsers, then navigate to it with ES.

    “means it’s possible to sideload apps on Fire TV devices without needing anything external”. You mean “install apps”?

  10. Humberto says:

    “I was even able to get ES File Explorer to download an APK directly by formulating a special link on a test server that changes the HTTP mime type header.”

    I would love to see a guide for doing this.

  11. Mr. Marcus101 says:

    Thanks for the link Manof…

  12. Bizhan Aminipour says:

    I am constantly copying deployed APK files on devices to test. Now this feature-like bug of ES becomes a real headache!

    Now I rather email each APK to each of my staff and delete ES forever!

  13. you can download .apk files in es explorer, go to the page with the file link and zoom in on the page 4, 5 or 6 times then click the link and it downloads.

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