How to Turn on Apps from Unknown Sources on Firestick

How to Turn on Apps from Unknown Sources on Firestick

How to Turn on Apps from Unknown Sources on Firestick

Learning how to turn on apps from unknown sources is vital when installing third-party apps on FireStick. 

To do this in four steps, simply go to “Settings,” select “System,” go to “Developer Options,” then “Apps from Unknown Sources,” and turn it to “ON.”

However, the steps may vary depending on whether you have the 2014, 2015, or 2020 interface. The good news is turning on apps from unknown sources is a piece of cake for the Fire TV Stick, the Fire TV Stick 4K, and the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. 

Just check which version you have and follow the pictured instructions below to make it happen in less than 5 minutes!

FireStick TV Latest Interface: The 2020 Interface

Number of Steps6
DifficultyEasy
Completion Time15 seconds or less

Newer models and versions of FireStick TV use a different user interface compared to the older ones from 2014 and 2015. The most visible difference is that the navigation panel is now located in the center of the home screen.

Another key difference from one FireStick version to another is that in the older builds, the option to enable Unknown Sources is straightforward and works collectively for all apps. 

Simply put, one activation is enough. Older models have a shorter process that affects every third-party app that you introduce to the platform.  

In the newer models, the feature has to be turned on for individual apps, which means you need to install an app that supports this feature, such as Downloader or ES File Explorer before you can continue.

If your FireStick interface has a navigation panel at the center, proceed to the steps below. Otherwise, skip to the interface guide that comes after.

Enable Unknown Sources for the FireStick 2020 Interface

  • Press the Home button on your FireStick remote.
Enable Unknown Sources for the FireStick 2020 Interface
  • Tap the Settings icon (gear) from the home screen.
Enable Unknown Sources for the FireStick 2020 Interface
  • Click the My Fire TV tile.
Enable Unknown Sources for the FireStick 2020 Interface
  • Click Developer options.
Enable Unknown Sources for the FireStick 2020 Interface
  • Tap Install unknown apps.
Enable Unknown Sources for the FireStick 2020 Interface
  • Toggle it to on
Enable Unknown Sources for the FireStick 2020 Interface

If the Developer options are hidden from the My Fire TV menu, continue reading to the later sections of this post in order to learn how to make the option appear.

Catering to FireStick TV 2015 Interface

Number of Steps5
DifficultyEasy
Completion Time12 seconds or less

Again, how the menu is positioned on your smart TV should tell you what particular FireStick TV interface you’re looking at. 

FireStick devices with the menu panel located at the upper corner of the home screen use the 2015 variant of the user interface. Navigating in the menu panel is done by scrolling left or right.

Enable Unknown Sources on FireStick 2015 Interface

  • Scroll right/click the Settings tab.
Enable Unknown Sources on FireStick 2015 Interface
  • Scroll right/click Device.
Enable Unknown Sources on FireStick 2015 Interface
  • Click Developer options.
Enable Unknown Sources on FireStick 2015 Interface
  • Tap Apps from Unknown Sources to toggle it on.
Enable Unknown Sources on FireStick 2015 Interface
  • Click Turn On to confirm.
Enable Unknown Sources on FireStick 2015 Interface

That should do it. Now you’re ready to introduce an army of apps to your Amazon TV. 

Dealing with FireStick 2014 Interface

Number of Steps6
DifficultyEasy
Completion Time15 seconds or less

The 2014 Firestick interface has the distinction of being the oldest of the bunch. A quick way to determine if you’re dealing with such a layout is by seeing the menu panel situated vertically on the left side of the screen.

As such, you’ll have to navigate between the different menu options by scrolling up and down rather than sideways. 

Turn Unknown Sources in the FireStick 2014 Interface

  • Scroll down/tap Settings.
Turn Unknown Sources in the FireStick 2014 Interface
  • Scroll right/click System.
Turn Unknown Sources in the FireStick 2014 Interface
  • Scroll down/click Developer Options in the System menu.
Turn Unknown Sources in the FireStick 2014 Interface
  • Click APB Debugging to toggle it on.
  • Click Apps from Unknown Sources to toggle it on.
Turn Unknown Sources in the FireStick 2014 Interface
  • Click Ok to confirm.
Turn Unknown Sources in the FireStick 2014 Interface

That should go down smoothly. Now, if you want to know what particular Fire TV model you have, you should make the most of the Informer app, something you can download from your Fire TV. 

What if Developer Options are missing?

For some reason, Amazon decided to hide Developer Options from the Device/Fire TV menu on Firestick devices running on Fire OS 7 version (7.2.8 and higher) after years of conveniently leaving it visible by default.

If it’s any comfort, most Google TV and Android TV devices behave that way hiding Dev Options by default. Google explained that such a decision was made “to keep users safe and from harming themselves” and now you know. 

It’s a bit of a quandary. Like those other Android devices, the developer option needs to be manually revealed before users can gain the ability to turn on Apps from Unknown Sources on Firestick. 

Fortunately, the trick to unveil this option is quick and easy. In hindsight, the only real change this update brought was adding one extra step before unlocking the developer features.

In essence, all you need to accomplish is to tap your Firestick device’s name repeatedly until you acquire that developer option. 

How to Reveal Missing Developer Options

  • Click the Settings icon (gear) from the home screen.
How to Reveal Missing Developer Options
  • Click the My Fire TV tile.
Enable Unknown Sources for the FireStick 2020 Interface
  • Click About.
How to Reveal Missing Developer Options
  • Tap Fire TV Stick repeatedly.
How to Reveal Missing Developer Options
  • Stop when it says “No need, you are already a developer.”
How to Reveal Missing Developer Options
  • Click Back on your remote.
  • Developer options should be visible now.

Is it safe to allow apps from unknown sources?

Turning on apps from unknown sources is a very convenient way to install all sorts of apps from anywhere on the internet whether official, non-official, first-party, or third-party.

Enabling this feature, in itself, is not risky as it only gives you the freedom to access apps from outside sources. The risk usually comes from shady third-party apps that can put malwares or viruses in your device.

This is why it’s a generally accepted rule that apps should only be downloaded from official app stores like the Google Play Store and Amazon App Store because they are safer and more secure.

After all, they’re run by big corporations with the resources to put in place security measures to protect their consumers.

As such, allowing the installation of apps from third-party sources is more likely to leave your device vulnerable and open to attacks from malicious entities. 

Official app stores run applications through checks and monitor them to ensure that they will not pose a threat to their users, while installation of unknown apps foregoes any kind of security measure.

Does this mean all third-party apps are risky? 
Third-party apps carry certain risks as downloading and installing may come with  malware or virus that could infect your smart device with destructive codes. It’s important, therefore, that you source these apps from trusted third-party app stores.
While there’s risk involved, there are unofficial app store alternatives like Apkpure or Apkmirror that are considered to be generally safe by users online.
Still, do note that these alternatives are vulnerable and have been subjected to attacks before.

In the end, it falls on the user to exercise due diligence and sound judgment when dealing with third-party apps.

Whether the experience will be safe or dangerous will greatly rely on the measures you use to protect yourself.

As for the experts, their advice is to avoid unknown apps and instead continue using official app stores. If you decide to download third-party apps, be sure to research and do your due diligence instead of going in blindly.

Wrapping Things Up

Learning how to turn on Apps from Unknown Sources on FireStick should be worth your while. Not only does it introduce you to a greater amount of content but also it gives you the flexibility to avail of the latest apps found elsewhere. 

Then again, exercising due diligence is paramount; the top of that list is using a VPN. Simply put, not every content available online is legit — hiding your identity, therefore, is not just an option, it’s thinking straight. 

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