Sideloading apps and games on your Oculus Quest

oculus quest

The Oculus Quest is a standalone VR headset that can render games and apps without a desktop PC. Games and apps are normally installed via the Oculus Store, but you can also sideload unofficial apps via a PC.

Where to find sideloadable apps

Since you need an APK file of the app itself to sideload it, you need a place to get them. The best unofficial registry for sideloaded apps is SideQuest, an alternative store for Quest apps. While some of them are paid, most of the apps on SideQuest are completely free.

Warning: As always when sideloading apps — or downloading software from the web — make sure you only download apps from sources you trust.

Sidequest has a standalone desktop app that handles the actual sideloading process. You can submit apps to SideQuest directly from the website and they will be installed directly on your Oculus Quest, provided it is connected to your PC.

sidequest window

In addition to sideloading, SideQuest has tools for sending ADB commands, browsing the device files, and changing device settings. You’re not limited to SideQuest apps either – you can sideload anything you have an APK for.

Sideloading an app

First you need to enable developer mode to allow sideloading. There is no switch for this from the headset, only from the Oculus app for iPhone, iPad or Android. Select “Settings” in the app, click on your headset (you may need to turn it on) and select “More settings”.

oculus app headset settings

Select ‘Developer mode’.

developer mode

Then turn on the switch.

enable developer mode

Oculus recently started requiring people to sign up for their developer program to enable developer mode. This is completely free, but you will be redirected to their website where you will be asked to login and create a new ‘organization’. You can simply enter your name and return to the settings.

You may need to flip the switch again once you’ve created your organization. Once it’s actually enabled, you’ll need to reboot your headset for the changes to take effect. Once it loads a backup, you will be prompted to allow USB debugging, which will allow sideloading. Check ‘Always allow’.

Allow USB debugging

Then download the SideQuest app and install it on your PC. Once you’ve loaded it up, you should see the headset plugged in in the top corner. If there is no connection, you may need to install the Oculus app for the Quest to install the correct drivers for the headset.

headphones connected

Once connected, you can sideload apps by installing them from within the app itself, installing from the website (which will open SideQuest), or manually installing the APK using the controls in the top right corner.

If you want to remove apps, you can also do that from SideQuest. Click the “Apps” menu below the controls and select “Uninstall App” in the settings for the app.

Where to find sideloaded apps

You won’t find any sideloaded apps on the Oculus Quests home screen, unfortunately. Facebook really wants you to spend money on the official Oculus store, so your Quest puts sideloaded apps into an “Unknown Sources” category in the library menu.

unknown sources

This list is still easily accessible, but you can’t pin it to favorites or even view the thumbnails.

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