How to Run Android on Your Windows PC

This step-by-step guide will show you how to install and run the Android operating system (and Android apps) on your Windows PC – using nothing but free software.


Although you can run Android Apps in Windows 11, there are a slew of limitations, and the system requirements are significantly higher than they need to be. With the solution provided in this guide you can run Android on your computer whether it’s running Windows 11 or Windows 7, and you’ll have full access to the Google App Store and all of the other goodies that come with Android. Plus, Android will be running inside of a ‘virtual machine’ – which means it will never touch your Windows files or cause any problems with Windows itself. If you want to remove or reinstall Android at any point in time it’s as simple as clicking a “delete” button.

It’s also worth mentioning up front that this entire process will work on computers running macOS or Linux – the screenshots will just look a bit different. So technically yes, this guide could be called “How to run Android on Your Computer” :)

The installation and initial setup involves quite a few steps and can take upwards of 30 minutes (give or take). It may also seem like it’s a “bit much” but we really have broken it down into a step-by-step guide that absolutely anyone can follow along. After that, running Android is as easy as opening an app and clicking a button. So grab yourself a cup of tea or coffee (or water) and let’s jump in!

1. Configure VirtualBox for Android
2. Installing Android in VirtualBox
3. Setting Up Android

Configure VirtualBox for Android

  1. To get started you’ll need to download VirtualBox and the Android image file. When both files have finished downloading, locate the VirtualBox installer run it. Once VirtualBox has finished installing, open it up and click the New button.
  2. an arrow pointing at the New button in the VirtualBox app

  3. In the Name: field enter something descriptive like Android, leave the Machine Folder: as the default, select Other as the Type:, and finally, select Other/Unknown (64-bit) as the Version:. Click Next after you’ve made your selections.
  4. arrows identifying the fields required to be filled in for the second screen of the VirtualBox wizard

  5. Use the ‘slider’ (see screenshot below) to set the Memory size to 2048 or higher. This means you’ll be allocating 2GB of RAM to Android. If you’re going to be playing games or doing other resource intensive things inside of Android, you may want to bump this up to 4096 (which is 4GB of RAM). Click the Next button to continue.
  6. an arrow pointing to a slider marking the 2048 section of a line graph

  7. Choose Create a virtual hard disk now and then click the Next button.
  8. an arrow pointing to the Create a virtual hard disk now option on the VirtualBox installer

  9. Select VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image) from the list of options and then click the Next button.
  10. an arrow pointing to the VDI option

  11. Select Dynamically allocated and then click the Next button.
  12. an arrow pointing at Dynamically allocated as the option to select

  13. This time use the ‘slider’ to set a hard disk size. I went for just over 16GB, but that’s on the small side. Also, the way this “virtual hard drive” works is that even if you set it to something large, it doesn’t actually allocate that much hard drive space right away – it increases in size as needed. So it won’t create a 128GB file (virtual hard drive) right away – 128GB is the maximum size it can grow to. Once you’ve made your selection, click the Create button.
  14. an arrow pointing to a slider indicating the 16GB mark on a line graph

  15. Back at the main VirtualBox screen you’ll see a new ‘machine’ listed in the column on the left side of the window. Select that machine and then click the Start button located in the top toolbar.
  16. VirtualBox with an Android image selected

  17. Click the “folder” icon (see screenshot below) in the Select start-up disk panel.
  18. an arrow pointing to the folder icon on the VirtualBox Select a start up hard disk option screen

  19. Click the Add button.
  20. an arrow pointing to an Add button

  21. Navigate to the Android image file that you downloaded back in step #1, select it and then click the Open button.
  22. selecting the Android image to run in Windows

  23. With your Android image file highlighted, click the Choose button.
  24. selected Android image for Windows

  25. This time on the Select start-up disk panel click the Start button.
  26. an arrow pointing to a Start button

  27. Before you boot your new Android virtual machine for the first time you’ll receive a notification from the VirtualBox app that explains how your mouse cursor will interact with the guest OS, which in this case is Android. Review this message carefully so you really understand it, but what it comes down to is that once you click inside of the guest operating system (Android), it will ‘take control’ of your keyboard and mouse – so that you can interact with it. But when you want to use Windows again, you have to hit a specific key on your keyboard first, and then the keyboard and ouse will be accessible in Windows again (but not Android, until you click inside of its window again). Click Capture to enter into Android.
  28. the VB Keyboard and Mouse warning dialog box

Installing Android in VirtualBox

  1. Use the “down arrow” key on your keyboard to navigate down to the Installation – Install Android-x86 to harddisk and then hit the Enter key to select it.
  2. the first screen of the Android installation

  3. Tap the letter “c” on your keyboard to select Create/Modify partitions and then use the down arrow key to select OK
  4. screenshot of the create or modify partitions in Android
    click to enlarge

  5. Choose Yes when prompted to use GPT
  6. selecting YES on the GPT screen for installing Android in Windows
    click to enlarge

  7. Press any key on your keyboard to continue.
  8. screenshot of a Press any Key to continue screen
    click to enlarge

  9. Now use the arrow keys to navigate to the New option, and then hit enter to select it.
  10. navigating Android installer
    click to enlarge

  11. Hit the enter key on your keyboard to accept the default value.
  12. entering the default value when installing Android in Windows
    click to enlarge

  13. Hit the enter key on your keyboard to accept the default value, again.
  14. screenshot of selecting the Enter key to accept the default value
    click to enlarge

  15. For a third and final time, hit the enter key on your keyboard to accept the default value.
  16. third time accepting the default value during the Android install process
    click to enlarge

  17. Use the arrow keys to navigate to the Write option and then hit the enter key to select it.
  18. selecting the Write option during the Android installation
    click to enlarge

  19. Type out the word yes and then hit enter.
  20. selecting Yes during the install screen
    click to enlarge

  21. Select Fat32 from the list of options, and then OK
  22. selecting fat32 as a file format in Android
    click to enlarge

  23. Select Yes
  24. selecting Yes during the Android installation
    click to enlarge

  25. Select Skip when prompted to install the GRUB loader.
  26. the install GRUB option for Android on Windows
    click to enlarge

  27. Choose No when you’re asked about making the /system directory read-write.
  28. selecting NO as the option for read-write in the system folder

  29. The installer will now do its thing and begin installing Android.
  30. Android installation
    click to enlarge

  31. Choose Yes when prompted to create a disk image.
  32. creating a disk image during the Android installation process
    click to enlarge

  33. Type in 2048 and then hit the Enter/return key on your keyboard.
  34. entering the number 2048
    click to enlarge

  35. Finally, select Run Android-x86
  36. selecting Run Android-x86
    click to enlarge

Setting Up Android On Your Computer

  1. At this point Android will boot up for the first time.
  2. the Android boot screen
    click to enlarge

  3. The initial ‘Welcome’ will ask you to select your language/region (the default is English/United States). Click the START button after you’ve made your selection.
  4. selecting English as the default language for Android
    click to enlarge

  5. The Connect to Wi-Fi screen may take a few minutes to update – just be patient. You don’t actually need to connect Android to a wireless network – it’s going to use the connection provided to it by Windows (or macOS/Linux if that’s what you’re using). When the See all Wi-Fi networks link appears, select it.
  6. selecting the WiFi to connect to in Android
    click to enlarge

  7. Choose VirtWiFi
  8. the VirtWiFi option in Android
    click to enlarge

  9. Android will now check for updates. As indicated by the on-screen message, this can take a few minutes. Patience is key.
  10. Android checking for updates
    click to enlarge

  11. Select DON’T COPY on the Copy apps & data screen.
  12. selecting the don't copy option for backups in Android
    click to enlarge

  13. Enter your Google Account username or phone number in the space provided and then click the Next button.
  14. sign into Google
    click to enlarge

  15. Now enter your Google Account password in the space provided and then – you guessed it – click the Next button.
  16. enter Google account password
    click to enlarge

  17. Click the I agree button after reading every word in the Google Terms of Service. /li>

    accepting the Google Terms of Service
    click to enlarge

  18. If you want to back up your Apps and App data to Google Drive, toggle the Back up to Google Drive switch to ON and then click the MORE button. If you don’t, leave that switch toggled OFF and then click the MORE button.
  19. backup options for Android
    click to enlarge

  20. Now decide if you want to Allow scanning and to Send usage and diagnostic data – make your selections based on personal preference and then click the ACCEPT button.
  21. an ACCEPT button
    click to enlarge

  22. Decide if you want to secure your instance of Android using a Pattern, PIN, Password or you can chooseNot now and set one later, if at all.
  23. selecting a security measure for the Android sleep screen
    click to enlarge

  24. On the Anything else screen just select the NO THANKS link in the bottom left corner of the panel. Each of those activities can be done later if you wish, once the setup is complete.
  25. a NO THANKS button
    click to enlarge

  26. Now you’ll need to select an app to use as when the Home button is selected.
  27. the Home button options for Android
    click to enlarge

  28. Ta-da! Android! From here you can start installing Apps via the Google Play Store (or your favourite other market), customize your Android environment, play games – whatever your little heart desires :)
  29. the Android desktop
    click to enlarge

  30. That’s it! You’re all done. When you want to use Android again in the future just start up VirtualBox, select Android and then click the Start button. You’ll boot right into your Android desktop and can pick up where you left off.

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8 thoughts on “How to Run Android on Your Windows PC”

  1. Cool. Any full functioning ROMs out there? This image is definitely developer focused. Would like to see a stable ROM with the Google Play and the rest of the GAPPS suite.

  2. ERROR:
    {Happens just before ready to show Android home screen after initialization is finished, possibly involves mouse capture as keyboard works in Virtual Box until it freezes at the very end of boot initialization sequence and mouse in VBox never worked for me, tried adding VBox package, extensions and various settings after many plain “vanilla” attempts.}

    Description of Error:
    “init: Timed out waiting for /dev/.coldboot_done
    Kernel panic – not syncing: Attempted to kill init!
    atkbd.c: Spurious ACK on isa0060/serio0. Some program might be trying access hardware directly.”

    HELP HELP HELP (yes I am yelling!)

  3. i have also same problem. “Some program might be trying access hardware directly.”
    I am using VirtualBox.
    Please help.

  4. When I start Android, while is charging to show the Android OS (before the 16 step of this tutorial) and I cannot charge the Android OS completely due to it.

  5. I have a error to emulate it.

    init: Timed out waiting for /dev/.coldboot_done
    Kernel panic – not syncing: Attempted to kill init!
    atkbd.c: Spurious ACK on isa0060/serio0. Some program might be trying access hardware directly.

    Can you help me?

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