How do I download apps on my iPad without App Store?

Being able to download apps on your iPad without going through the App Store gives you more options and flexibility. While the App Store offers millions of apps, there may be certain apps you want that aren’t available there. Fortunately, there are a few different methods you can use to get apps from outside the App Store.

Using Third-Party App Stores

One option is to use third-party app stores. These are app stores not associated with Apple that provide apps you can download and install. Some of the most popular third-party app stores include:

  • Cydia – This is a third-party app store that can be installed on jailbroken iPads. It provides apps, tweaks, and modifications you won’t find on the App Store.
  • Ignition – A third-party app store that offers apps, games, and emulators you can install with a web clip.
  • AppValley – Offers hacked and modified apps you can install without jailbreaking.
  • TutuApp – Provides apps across various categories including games, social media, entertainment, and more.
  • Panda Helper – Features popular apps and games not available on the App Store.

The advantage of using these third-party app stores is gaining access to apps not approved by Apple for the App Store. The downside is that downloading apps from unknown sources carries some risk. Apple warns that such apps could contain malware or steal personal information. It’s important to only download from reputable third-party app stores to minimize risk.

How to use third-party app stores

Here are the general steps to use a third-party app store:

  1. On your iPad, open the web browser and go to the website for the third-party app store you want to use.
  2. Follow the instructions to download and install the app store. This usually involves tapping a link or button to install a configuration profile that will allow installing the app.
  3. Open Settings and verify the profile under General > Profiles & Device Management. Tap Trust to confirm the profile.
  4. Now you can open the third-party app store and browse apps to download just like you would on the App Store.
  5. Tap the app you want and hit “Get” to download and install it.

The process varies slightly for each app store but generally follows these steps. Make sure to read the instructions carefully for the particular third-party app store you want to use.

Using a Browser

Another way to download apps without the App Store is by using your web browser. Some apps give you the option to access and download them directly from the developer’s website.

Often these apps are made available as IPA files. IPA stands for iOS App Store Package and is the file format used to distribute and install apps on iOS devices.

Here are the steps to download and install an IPA file:

  1. On your iPad, open the Safari or Chrome app and go to the website where the IPA file is hosted.
  2. Tap the link to download the IPA file. It will download to your iPad.
  3. Open the Files app on your iPad. Go to “On My iPad” and tap the IPA file to open it.
  4. You will get a warning that the app is from an untrusted developer. Go to Settings > General and enable app downloads from unknown sources.
  5. Go back to the IPA file in Files and tap it again. This time it will install.
  6. You can now open the app from your Home screen like normal.

This allows you to bypass the App Store review process and install apps directly. Just keep in mind you are downloading apps at your own risk as they do not go through Apple’s review process when using this method.

Using a Computer

You can also use a computer to install apps on your iPad without the App Store. This involves downloading the IPA file on your computer and then transferring it to your iPad.

Here is the process:

  1. On your computer, download the IPA file you want from the web.
  2. Connect your iPad to your computer using the charging cable.
  3. Open iTunes on the computer. Select your connected iPad under Devices.
  4. In iTunes, click on File Sharing and select the app you want to transfer the IPA file to.
  5. Under the Documents section, click Add File and select the IPA file on your computer.
  6. The IPA file will transfer to your iPad. You can now disconnect your iPad.
  7. On your iPad, open the Files app, go to On My iPad, and tap the IPA file to install it.

This method avoids the need to download the file directly on your iPad. But you still need to enable app installations from unknown sources under Settings to be able to install it.

Using a Mobile Device Management (MDM) Tool

If you have multiple iPads or iOS devices to manage, another option is using a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution. This is a tool that allows businesses and schools to remotely manage and configure a large number of devices.

One feature MDM solutions provide is the ability to distribute apps and IPA files to managed devices. So you can use an MDM tool to install apps on your iPad instead of the App Store.

Some popular MDM solutions include:

  • Jamf Now
  • VMware AirWatch
  • ManageEngine MDM
  • Cisco Meraki Systems Manager
  • Sophos Mobile

The process works like this:

  1. You enroll your iPad with the MDM tool using a management profile.
  2. In the MDM admin console, apps can be uploaded or synced from an app catalog.
  3. Apps are then pushed and installed automatically on your iPad and other managed devices.
  4. You can then open the app like normal from your iPad’s Home screen.

Using an MDM allows centralized app distribution and management for multiple iOS devices. But MDM tools require technical expertise to manage and tend to be more common in businesses.

Jailbreaking Your iPad

Jailbreaking gives you complete control over your iPad, allowing you to install apps from any source. When you jailbreak your iPad, it removes restrictions put in place by Apple.

Some things you can do with a jailbroken iPad include:

  • Installing apps outside the App Store, like those available in Cydia.
  • Customizing the user interface and appearance.
  • Using features that are restricted by default.

Jailbreaking tools take advantage of vulnerabilities in iOS to gain root access to the operating system. Some of the most popular jailbreaking tools include:

  • checkra1n
  • greenpois0n
  • Absinthe
  • evasi0n
  • TaiG

Here is an overview of how to jailbreak your iPad:

  1. Back up your iPad through iTunes or iCloud.
  2. On your computer, download the jailbreak tool for your specific iOS version.
  3. Connect your iPad to the computer and launch the jailbreak tool.
  4. The tool will guide you through a process of exploiting a vulnerability and gaining root access.
  5. Once complete, your iPad will be jailbroken and you can install apps outside the App Store.

While jailbreaking enables greater control and customization, there are some downsides to consider:

  • Apple does not support jailbroken devices.
  • Jailbreaking voids your device’s warranty.
  • It poses some security risks if not done properly.
  • You may lose access to certain Apple services.
  • Features like Apple Pay may not work correctly.

You need to re-jailbreak your iPad after upgrading to a new iOS version. Jailbreaking is not for everyone but can be an option for those wanting more freedom and customization.

Sideloading with an Apple Developer Account

If you are enrolled in the Apple Developer program, you can sideload apps onto your iPad for testing without going through the App Store.

Sideloading with a developer account involves these steps:

  1. Register for an Apple Developer account by paying the $99 annual fee.
  2. Using Xcode on a Mac, create and export your app as an IPA file.
  3. In iTunes on your computer, add the IPA file to your iPad’s app library.
  4. Trust the developer certificate on your iPad to allow the app to run.

This method is intended for developers to test their apps during the development process. Normal users can also take advantage of it to install apps or IPAs onto their iPads without restrictions.

The downsides are the cost of the developer program and needing a Mac to export the IPA file for sideloading.

Using a Website Clip

Some third-party app stores like Ignition allow you to install apps as website clips. This avoids the App Store without needing to download IPA files.

Here is how it works:

  1. On your iPad, open the Safari web browser and go to the third-party app store website.
  2. Search or browse for the app you want and tap to view details.
  3. Tap the download or get button which will open a pop-up.
  4. In the pop-up, choose the “Add to Home Screen” option. This will create a web clip on your home screen.
  5. You can now open the app from the home screen clip.

The advantage of using a website clip is it does not require trusting developer profiles or IPA files. It essentially lets you access apps directly from the web.

The downside is apps launched from clips run within Safari itself, so may have reduced functionality compared to natively installed apps.

Accessing App Files from Cloud Storage

Apps and IPA files can also be downloaded from cloud storage services and opened on your iPad.

For example:

  • Save the IPA file to Dropbox or Google Drive from your computer.
  • On your iPad, open the Dropbox or Drive app and navigate to the IPA file.
  • Tap the IPA file to open it, then hit Install.
  • Enable app installations from unknown sources in your Settings to complete the install.

This method allows you to transfer and install apps through cloud storage rather than via the App Store or a desktop computer.


There are many ways to get apps on your iPad without being limited to only the App Store. Third-party app stores, IPA files, MDM tools, jailbreaking, and web clips allow you to expand your app library.

Each method has its pros and cons to consider in terms of security, cost, complexity, and functionality. In most cases, you need to enable a setting on your iPad to allow installing apps outside the App Store.

For most users, the easiest options are using reputable third-party app stores or downloading IPA files directly within Safari or another browser. Jailbreaking offers the most control but requires technical expertise. MDM tools are best suited for business use cases.

Having flexibility to get apps from places other than the App Store can be useful. But it’s important to exercise caution and only install apps you trust from reliable sources outside the App Store.

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