How To To Run Android Apps On Mac OS X

Ads by Google

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. 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, 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!

Ads by Google

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?

Join live MakeUseOf Groups on Grouvi App Join live Groups on Grouvi
Best Android Apps
Best Android Apps
144 Members
Android Rooting and ROMs
Android Rooting and ROMs
93 Members
Android OS Tips
Android OS Tips
80 Members
Best Android Phones
Best Android Phones
50 Members
Best Android Games
Best Android Games
49 Members
Best Android Tablets
Best Android Tablets
29 Members
Android Rumors and News
Android Rumors and News
28 Members
Mac Troubleshooting
Mac Troubleshooting
21 Members
Mac Switchers
Mac Switchers
16 Members
Mac OS X & Software
Mac OS X & Software
15 Members
Ads by Google
Comments (21)
  • Willight Robinbine

    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.

  • Pramod

    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!!!!!

  • Mark

    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?

  • Nicolas

    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 play.google-store and created a google-account but was not able to download new apps… how can i add other apps?

  • Rich

    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?

Load 10 more
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.