How to Install Android on Your PC

It used to be the case that PC users had the choice of installing Windows or, if they were feeling adventurous, a version of Linux. This is still true, but it is now also possible to install OS X without owning a Mac and virtualization means that you can do all of this alongside your main operating system in a virtual computer.

This being Android.AppStorm, you may well wonder what virtualization has to do with your phone or tablet. Well, how would you feel about the chance of installing and running Android on your PC? Using a free copy of VirtualBox and the information in this guide, you can run a fully functioning – and legal – version of Jelly Bean on your computer.


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If the below process doesn’t work for you, please check this other (simpler) method to emulate Android on your PC with GenyMotion.

It’s a Simple Process

First, you’ll need to grab yourself a copy of VirtualBox. This powerful virtualization utility can be used to install a second operating system alongside your primary one, and while this usually means running a second copy of Windows or trying out Ubuntu, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able install a mobile operating system as well.

Android may have been designed for your phone and tablet , but that doesn’t mean it needs to stay there.

Android may have been designed for your phone and tablet , but that doesn’t mean it needs to stay there.

Once you have the virtualization software up and running, you’ll need to get hold of a copy of Jelly Bean to install. This does not mean that you need to obtain an illicit copy of the operating system from an untrustworthy website, or rip a copy of your phone’s ROM – it is actually freely available.

Step 1: Grab an Android ROM

There are various versions of Android available for download, but it makes sense to work with the most recent version – Jelly Bean. Head over to the Android-x86 website scroll down to the Android-x86-4.2-devel section and click the View link for the most up to date version (at time of writing this is 4.2 20130228).

There are several Android ROMs available to download including the latest version of Jelly Bean.

There are several Android ROMs available to download including the latest version of Jelly Bean.

Weighing in at just under 200MB, the download will take a moment to transfer. Once you have the ISO file on your hard drive, you’re ready to set about the task of installing it in VirtualBox.

Step 2: Going Virtual

Pay a visit to the VirtualBox download page and click the link to download the software. Here, I’m working with Windows 8, but VirtualBox is compatible with older versions of Microsoft’s operating system, and there are also versions available for OS X and Linux.

VirtualBox can be used to install a second operating system on your computer, including Android.

VirtualBox can be used to install a second operating system on your computer, including Android.

Once downloaded, run through the installation of the program  – just accept all of the default options. Don’t be concerned when you’re asked to install a new network adaptor as this is part if the usual installation process.

A virtual network adaptor will be installed by VirtualBox to allow virtual machines to get online.

A virtual network adaptor will be installed by VirtualBox to allow virtual machines to get online.

Once installation is complete, launch VirtualBox and you’re ready to move to the next stage.

Step 3: Create a Virtual Machine

You’ll need to start by creating a new virtual machine onto which you will install Android. Click the New button. Name the virtual machine whatever you like, and (as Android is based on Linux) select  Linux from the first drop down menu. From the Version menu select Other Linux and then click Next.

Android is a Linux-based operating system and it needs to be correctly identified in VirtualBox.

Android is a Linux-based operating system and it needs to be correctly identified in VirtualBox.

Move the memory slider to the right so that 512MB or more of RAM is set aside for VirtualBox and click Next. Make sure that the Create a virtual hard drive now option is selected and click Create. Select VDI, click Next and then select the Fixed size option before clicking Next.

You can then use the slider to choose how large a disk should be assigned to the virtual machine, and you can use the folder button to choose where it should be stored. Click Create when you’ve configured your settings — it might take a few minutes for the virtual disk to be created.

Your virtual Android device can be assigned a drive capacity of your choice -- go wild!

Your virtual Android device can be assigned a drive capacity of your choice — go wild!

Step 4: Install Android

Make sure that you have your newly created virtual machine selected and then click the Settings button in the toolbar. Click the Storage link to the left hand side of the dialog and then towards the center click the Empty entry in the Storage Tree section.

To the right of this, click the small disc button and select Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file from the menu that appears. Navigate to the ISO file you have downloaded, select it and click Open followed by OK.

The ISO files you've downloaded can be used as a virtual CD to install Android.

The ISO files you’ve downloaded can be used as a virtual CD to install Android.

Power up your virtual machine by clicking the Start button in the VirtualBox toolbar.

If this is the first time you’ve used the program you may see a message letting you know about mouse capturing. When you move the mouse cursor inside the virtual machine window you’ll find that you cannot move it back out to control Windows as you normally would – just remember to press the right hand Ctrl key to free up the mouse when you need to.

Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to scroll down to the Installation option and press Enter.

Android can be run without installation, but opting to install provides a better, faster experience.

Android can be run without installation, but opting to install provides a better, faster experience.

Now you will need to configure the virtual hard drive so that there is somewhere to install Android to. Select the Create/Modify Partition option and press Enter.

Select New at the bottom of the screen and press Enter, and then select the Primary option before pressing Enter again. Press Enter to create a partition that occupies your entire virtual drive.

Configuring hard drives for Android may seem complex, but it takes just a few moments.

Configuring hard drives for Android may seem complex, but it takes just a few moments.

Now select the Bootable option and press Enter, select Write and press Enter, and then type the word yes before pressing Enter once again. Select Quit, choose the partition you’ve just created and press Enter.

When prompted, select the option to use the ext3 file system and select Yes to confirm your choice. The GRUB bootloader takes care of launching Android, so select Yes to install it and then select Yes again to make the /system directory writeable.

The correct drive format must be selected for Android to work properly, so take care during configuration.

The correct drive format must be selected for Android to work properly, so take care during configuration.

It won’t be long before Android boots, and at this point you should remove the virtual CD from the drive. Click the Devices menu and select CD/DVD Devices followed by Remove disk from virtual drive.

It's a slightly time-consuming process, but getting Android on your PC is very rewarding.

It’s a slightly time-consuming process, but getting Android on your PC is very rewarding.

Step 5: Almost There!

You might find that Android takes a little while to boot up — at least the first time around — and you’ll then have to run through the initial configuration just like you did the first time you switched on your phone or tablet.

Should you find that your mouse does not work and you are unable to click within Android, click the Machine menu in Virtual Box and then click Disable Mouse Integration. You may also find it useful to click View followed by Switch to Scale Mode if you find the mouse acts erratically — you can switch back to regular mode by pressing the right Ctrl key and C at the same time.

The first time you run Android you'll have to set it up just like you did on your phone or tablet.

The first time you run Android you’ll have to set it up just like you did on your phone or tablet.

You can ignore any steps related to connecting to a wireless network as VirtualBox will just make use of your computer connection without the need for additional configuration.

Running Android within Windows can feel strange to start with, but it's also great fun!

Running Android within Windows can feel strange to start with, but it’s also great fun!

Now it’s time to pay a visit to Google Play and start downloading apps! Let us know how you get on, particularly if you think up any interesting uses for a virtualized copy of Android.


  • http://www.deepsoni.me Deep S.

    tip- You may have to edit the build.prop file if you want access to some restricted apps that are locked to certain devices. You can research about this over at XDA.

    • http://www.mark-wilson.co.uk/ Mark Wilson

      That’s a good tip – something that might be worth looking at in a follow-up article

  • Ben Diesel

    Hi, any way to make it bigger, like full screen on my PC? Even when I full screen, its about the size of a tablet on the desktop.

    • http://www.jaimebouger.com/ Sylvain Bouchard

      Yes. Just change the resolution of your screen.

  • Chris

    I Cant get it to work. Cant get it to install

  • micromax560tab

    is there possibility to install google apps from play store to a virtual android os (installed in pc) ?

    • http://www.symbian-guru.com khouryrt

      yes, as far as i know

      • micromax560tab

        but why this app is showing the warning message like this . “your device isn’t compatible with this version” ? :(

        • Arsh Kumar

          because not all apps are compatible with virtual android sytem

          • Arsh Kumar

            someone has leaved commented how to solve that problem you can search on XDA site

          • micromax560tab

            thank you

    • unknown

      yes

  • Himanshu Bhatnagar

    Unable to do install it as per the mentioned procedure kindly help..

  • Arsh Kumar

    did we can use webcam and mic in it

  • http://www.jaimebouger.com/ Sylvain Bouchard

    Thanks for this tutorial, it was really helpfull. I’d like to know if it’s possible to root this virtual OS and if so, how.

    Thank You

  • iz

    after Android screen it gives me unfortunately setup wizard has stopped , what to do ?

  • Guest

    i cannot mount /dev/sda1… what to do?

    • Muhammad Jamal Akbar

      having the same problem

    • Errol

      I tried the fat32 option and that seemed to work… still doing installation now

  • mario

    I can’t get network access to work… Help anybody?

  • Ashyz

    Nice Tutorial Work fine :)

    But lots of app not compatible :(

  • Mayur Saxena

    Thanks man!! Works Great!! :)

  • Amr Kazim

    .when i create the partition and choose ext3…i get a “you choose to format sda1 to ext3. all data in that partition will LOSE…are you sure you want to format the partition sda1…?”

    i press enter for yes…then it says cannot mount /dev/sda1….do you want to format it…i tried yes and didnt work….i get an installation didnt work…

  • rami

    I reached step 4, I chosed to install, but i can’t find the Create/Modify Partition option! and setup fails

    • Ian S.

      What screen are you receiving after you choose to install it?

  • Harry

    Im getting an error msg “FastTSC caliberation failed…” What to do…?

  • glen

    I cant install it.. I stuck on detecting android-x86.. I can’t find the Create/Modify Partition option. and setup was failed. what should I do? Please help me.

    • Ian S.

      What does it say after you choose to install it? It should be the next screen so which screen is it giving you instead?

      • glen

        Just like Deep uploaded.. whats the problem with it? is it the android-x86 or the version of virtual box??

  • Deep

    When I select install to hard-disk i cant get next screen i….. im uploading screenshot & using windows 7 ultimate 3 gb ram i5 processor…. please help …. bcoz im so desperate about it…

    • Ian S.

      I can barely see it but it looks like you have the same version iso as me. Is it android-x86-4.3-20130725 ? What V-Box are you using? If it’s a new one maybe try a bit older just in case. Mine is a year old (4.1.12) and it installed the iso i noted on an AMD Ubuntu desktop that’s a few years old.

  • Jai Vikash Sharma

    why its working speed is slow ……can we increse it ??

  • Konstantin Stoyanov

    i cant tweak the display settings, video memory seems to be set at 12mb, and its locked so i cant change it, it seems you cant go full screen, and even at small window resolution seems bad……

  • Jim O’Brien

    Beware the android-86 site downloads the conduit malware (see: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_8-security/virus-toolbar-named-search-conduit-attached-to/592cefab-3ced-48ed-adda-a9822d49aa58).

    It took me 2 1/2 hours to remove (hopefully) this from my machine

  • Engr Ali

    I am unable to find out create modify partition option pleases help me out

  • aditya

    I am not able to install because it says not enough memory….

  • aditya

    where as i have memory space of 512MB and disk space of 8 GB …..Please reply blogger…..

  • aditya

    not installing….please help

  • aditya

    not installing please help

  • aditya

    reply anyone

  • ankit

    after completing setup of virtual machine i could not load android.it displays error which reads “Failed to open session for vm android jelly bean
    failed to load vmmr0.ro”

  • elder

    when i click installation it doesn’t go to create/modify Partition insted this screen comes up

  • ashutosh singh

    Google play services stops on welcome screen, please suggest the solution.

  • chota ustad

    no “SD card” problem how i am fix it
    i can’t download anything

  • ankit

    it is taking very long to install

  • ankit

    installing installing on ms dos screen wat to do

  • Inferator

    Any chance to change the name to HTC or something because some app won’t install because of compatibility

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