Extract an APK From Android Devices using ADB

While working on a side project I had a need to extract an APK from my Android phone. This post briefly describes the process on how to do that.

Equipment used: Samsung phone with Android 9, Laptop running Ubuntu 18.04


Ensure Android is in Developer Mode

Each phone might be a little different in this respect, but the process is generally:

  • Go to Settings
  • Find 'About Phone' (or similar)
  • Scroll down to view the Build Number
  • Tap the build number 7 times
  • Go back to Settings and you should see a Developer Options entry

Identify where ADB is installed

I used the Jetbrains Toolbox to install Android Studio and wasn't sure where it placed the Android SDK. To find the SDK location within Android Studio:

  • File -> Project Structure...
  • In the left-hand sidebar select SDK Location

    (In my case the SDK was installed to /home/username/Android/Sdk and the ADB tool was found in the platform-tools subdirectory)

Use ADB to connect to my device and list packages

I ran these commands to ensure my device was correctly connected and list all the available packages:

  • /home/user/Android/Sdk/platform-tools/adb devices
    * daemon not running; starting now at tcp:5037
    * daemon started successfully
    List of devices attached
    5832555546523551  device
  • /home/user/Android/Sdk/platform-tools/adb shell pm list packages
  • /home/user/Android/Sdk/platform-tools/adb shell pm list packages | grep -i instant

Get the package path and pull down the APK

  • /home/user/Android/Sdk/platform-tools/adb shell pm path com.instantpot.app
  • /home/user/Android/Sdk/platform-tools/adb pull /data/app/com.instantpot.app-bbb_fikgz0fAxuyjXwRCcc==/base.apk
    /data/app/com.instantpot.app-bbb_fikgz.... 23.7 MB/s (46654418 bytes in 1.876s)

At this point I was able to start manipulating the Android application package.