Your Oculus Quest VR headset doesn't need to be limited by what's available on the Oculus store.

Sideloading is the process of uploading software to your device locally, as opposed to downloading from that platform's officially curated store – in this case the platform is Android and the store is Oculus. Once enabled, sideloading will allow you to run experimental, custom, & otherwise unreleased applications in the .apk format.

This guide will show you how to sideload apk files using Sidequest – a streamlined app designed specifically for sideloading on the Quest. A less feature-rich sideloading experience is possible using Android Debug Bridge or Android File Transfer.

Warning

Sideloading any content considered abusive under Oculus' Content Guidelines could result in your account being banned or otherwise restricted by Oculus. Oculus defines abusive sideloaded content as:

  • Content that appears to be infringing, copied, or pirated; or
  • Content that contains malicious code; or
  • Mods of applications available on or through our platform that appear to infringe on third party’s intellectual property rights, introduce malicious code, give players an unfair advantage, or are otherwise not approved; or
  • Used software or other tools to extract assets or content (videos, music, etc.); or
    Violated other Oculus Terms of Service, Code of Conduct, or other Oculus policies.

Refer to the full guidelines for more details.

What you'll need

  • Oculus Quest
  • Computer running Windows, macOS, or Linux
  • The Android or iOS device you use to set up and control your Quest
  • USB cable

The USB-C cable included with the Oculus Quest can be used to sideload from your computer. If you're computer lacks a USB-C connection, you'll need a USB-C to USB-A cable or adapter like this one: 

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Before you can do any sideloading, you'll need to enable developer mode on your Oculus account and your Quest. 

Register as a developer

In a browser, go to this page and log into your Oculus account.

Enter a name for your organization in the text field and click Submit. Don't worry - you can always change this name later if you decide to develop & publish apps to the Oculus store.

Enable Developer Mode on Quest

Turn on your Quest headset and open the Oculus app on the Android or iOS device you used to set up your Quest.

Follow these steps to enable Developer mode on your Quest:

  1. Tap Settings (bottom-right)
  2. Select your connected Quest from the device list and connect to it
  3. Tap More Settings which appears below your Quest in the device list
  4. Tap Developer Mode
  5. Tap the switch to enable developer mode
  6. Exit Settings on the app & reboot your Quest using the right-side power button

After your Quest reboots, developer mode should be enabled. You can confirm this by checking for the Developer category in the Quest's Settings menu as seen above.

Sidequest is a desktop app for Mac/Windows/Linux which allows you to browse and install content on your Quest via sideloading. Follow the steps below to install it on your computer and set it up for use with your Quest.

Download & install

Go to the Sidequest download page and click the button to download Sidequest for your operating system.

Open the downloaded file and run the installer. The installation process includes all the drivers needed for transferring files to your Quest.

Enable USB debugging

Next, we'll tell the Quest it's OK to connect to your computer:

  1. Open the Sidequest app on your computer
  2. Connect the Quest to your computer via USB cable. 
  3. Put on the Quest headset – you should see a window open asking you to Allow USB debugging.
  4. Check the box labelled Always allow from this computer and click OK

Your Quest and computer are now set up for sideloading using the Sidequest app.

Install a featured app

To install one of the apps featured in Sidequest:

  1. Click the app's thumbnail image or title
  2. Click Install Latest on the app's page.

Install a custom apk

To install any other apk file:

  1. Click the icon showing an arrow inside a box at the top of the Sidequest window.
  2. Choose your apk from the window that opens

Launch apps on Quest

To launch a sideloaded .apk file on your Quest:

  1. From your Quest headset, go to Library -> Unknown Sources
  2. Click the app you want to launch from the list on the right
This guide was first published on Jan 14, 2020. It was last updated on Jan 14, 2020.