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android apps for macWith cellphones and tablets gaining in processing power, we are seeing a slow but steady convergence of mobile and desktop computing. Usually, this means you get to enjoy software similar to desktop applications on your mobile, but the reverse is possible as well – using mobile software on your home computer. With close to half a million applications in the Google Play store, there are bound to be a number of apps to complement your desktop computing experience.

Chris previously covered 3 Ways to Run Android Apps on Windows 3 Ways To Run Android Apps On Windows 3 Ways To Run Android Apps On Windows Interested in Android? You don’t have to buy a device or go to a physical electronics store (do those still exist?) to try it out. You can run individual Android apps and play with the... Read More . This time around, we’ll show you how to run Android applications on your trusty Mac. And before you ask — no, the irony of running Android on an Apple operating system is not lost on me, but it is great fun!

Run Android 4 ICS In VirtualBox

The easiest way to run Android apps on your Mac is to get the Android operating system working on your Mac with VirtualBox. Lachlan has written a MakeUseOf Guide on VirtualBox DOWNLOAD Computer In Your Computer: How To Use VirtualBox DOWNLOAD Computer In Your Computer: How To Use VirtualBox Learn to use VirtualBox. Get virtual computers up and running inside your computer, without having to buy any new hardware. With "Computer Inside Your Computer: How to Use VirtualBox", the latest manual from Lachlan Roy,... Read More , and it’s widely considered one of the best free virtualization solutions.

android apps for mac

First, download VirtualBox and a preconfigured image of the Android OS. You can download a VirtualBox image for Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) from VMLite here. Both are free to download. Uncompress the file, look for Android-v4.vbox and open it to start booting Android in VirtualBox.

Finally, select Android Startup from /dev/sda in the VirtualBox boot menu. That’s all there is to it!

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Android SDK – Emulator

The Android SDK (software development kit) is free to download from the Android website, and it comes with an Android emulator, pictured below. The emulator is actually targeted at Android app developers, but instead of testing out self-developed apps, you can use it to run Android apps on your computer.

running android on mac

After downloading the SDK core, uncompress the file and open the android file located at android-sdk-macosx -> tools. Make sure all files from the latest Android firmware are checked, and press install.

running android on mac

Once those packages have finished installing, select Manage AVDs… from the Tools drop-down menu, and create a new Android Virtual Device using the firmware you downloaded earlier.

running android on mac

Finally, with your Android Virtual Device selected, hit the Start button to boot up your emulated Android. Although Google gave the Android emulator a performance boost, it’s still not the fastest kid on the block, so you should give it a minute or two to get started.

BlueStacks App Player

This is the solution I’m personally most excited about, because instead of running the Android operating system (and the apps on top of that), it actually provides a framework to run the Android applications directly on your computer.

android apps for mac

The BlueStacks App Player has been available for Windows for some time, and even got a partnership with ASUS for its efforts. The application only recently appeared on Mac OS X, and is still in alpha version. Only a handful of apps are available for BlueStacks at the moment, with more developers to be added in the months to come. All in all, you should consider it a working prototype, rather than a full-fledged solution.

How do you see yourself using Android on your Mac?

  1. mau
    May 6, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    The biggest problem is HOW to install any app in these stuffs? most of them dont came with google play or cant access your local files for .apk files stored.

  2. Willight Robinbine
    July 31, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Bluestacks for Mac OSX, your Mac OSX computer has to be on version 10.8 in order to install it on to it. You need Mac OSX Yosemite 10.10 or Mac OSX Mountain Lion 10.8-10.8.9 in order to install Bluestacks on the Mac OSX computer.

  3. Pramod
    November 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Cannot locate Manage AVD as per the instructions, stuck up completely
    There is no Manage AVDs in drop down of tools anywhere.
    After downloading the SDK core, uncompress the file and open the “android“ file located at android-sdk-macosx -> tools. Make sure all files from the latest Android firmware are checked, and press install. - should have been more precise..
    Could you assist? It has finished installing Android 4.2 on my mac, but now can't find Manage AVD!!!!!

  4. Mark
    October 11, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Thanks- interesting.
    By using this method, do you have access to the Imac hardware/functions so that you can use an Android app to send a file via Bluetooth?

  5. Nicolas
    October 5, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Great tutorial... i was able do test both ways (Virtualbox and SDK) and they run...
    But i tried do add some new apps from the and created a google-account but was not able to download new apps... how can i add other apps?

  6. Rich
    September 18, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Simon, this is a great tutorial. I wasn't clear on one thing though. Are these 2 types of solutions independent of each other? (Virtualbox vs AndroidSDK?) So if I want to download Android Apps I'd go with OPtion 2 only right?

  7. Rahul Kapoor
    September 16, 2012 at 7:38 am

    can u tell me how can i run android app from my pc hard drive on virtual box,as i have to test them before publishing them,i will be grateful if u'd give a detail explainition?

  8. rahul
    September 16, 2012 at 7:35 am

    can u tell me how can i run android app which i develop from eclipse on virtual box from my pc hard drive?

  9. Steven Kim
    July 30, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Keep em coming!!

  10. Colter Joles
    July 27, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    this just made me decide it would be okay to get a Mac for college. i need to do my rooting and hacking still!!!

  11. jamesbirtwistle
    July 22, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    I can't think of an app I would need to do this for but cool nonetheless

  12. titus
    July 20, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    tell me 1 step to another step on how to configure this service

    • Simon Slangen
      July 20, 2012 at 7:20 pm

      I guess you're in luck; there's actually very little configuration required!

      - Download and install VirtualBox.
      - Download and extract the Android VirtualBox image from this page.
      - Open the extracted 'Android-v4.vbox' in VirtualBox.
      - In VirtualBox, press 'Start'.

      The necessary configuration of the Android SDK should be already covered in the article, but feel free to ask for help if you're stuck anywhere.

      BlueStacks can just be installed, and used out of the box.

      Hope that helps you along. If not, let me know. :-)

  13. Sohel Zaman
    July 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Absolutely helpful..!! It's some material that i've been searching for a while to play my favorite apps in mac. Thanks for posting this.

    • Simon Slangen
      July 20, 2012 at 7:21 pm

      Glad to help! Which particular solution did you end up choosing?

  14. Choon Khai
    July 11, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    I wondered if there's iPhone version? Windows one maybe? I only used iPhone 3G so far, and some apps painfully hard to use because it uses a lot of memory which my iPhone can't accommodate.

    • Simon Slangen
      July 20, 2012 at 7:04 pm

      I don't think there's any decent way to do this on iOS right now, but Chris Hoffman did write similar article for Windows. Hope that helps.

      • Choon Khai
        July 31, 2012 at 8:08 am

        Thanks! It helps :)

  15. gpvprasad
    July 10, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Please also tell me how you created the virtual box image.

    • Simon Slangen
      July 20, 2012 at 7:00 pm

      I didn't create the virtualbox image myself, but used a prebuilt one. I actually linked to it in the article, but here it is again for reference. :-)

  16. Tom Sobieski
    July 10, 2012 at 1:58 am

    I would want to do this because?

    • Sylwia
      July 10, 2012 at 9:20 am

      Because an app might not have a desktop version, not even web version, and sometimes it is easier to use keyboard to enter a lot of data.

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