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How To Install A ROM Or App From Zip File To Android Device From Recovery

We have been covering a lot of Android ROMs and applications here at AddictiveTips and the installation procedure of most of those ROMs is the same. That’s why we decided to write a dedicated guide on how to flash any ROM or app from a zip file to your Android device using recovery. In this guide, we will be covering the entire flashing procedure, along with links to resources for rooting your device and making and restoring backups.

Please note that the terms ‘installing’ and ‘flashing’ can be used interchangeably here and will mean the same thing.

Disclaimer: Although we have done our best to make the following procedure as safe as possible, you should still follow this guide at your own risk.
Rooting your device renders its warranty void.
ALWAYS take backups before rooting or flashing a custom ROM or app to your phone.
Flashing a defective ROM or app to your phone might brick it so choose the ROMs and software that you flash wisely and never install a ROM or application from an untrusted source.
AddictiveTips will not be liable if your device gets damaged or bricked during the process.

AndroidOfficial ROM updates from device manufacturers or carriers are released in conveniently packaged installation files that you can run on your computer while your Android device is connected to it, and they automatically take care of updating your phone’s system. Similarly, most applications are available directly in the Android Market for easy installation, or come packaged as convenient ‘.apk’ files that you can just run on your Android phone to install. The case is not the same with most custom ROMs and several custom applications, which come in .zip files rather than PC installers or .apk files.

The idea of installing a customized operating system to their smartphone can be quite intimidating for inexperienced users. Though once they get used to it, some of them end up trying out different ROMs for their devices several times a day. While we don’t exactly recommend that you flash every new ROM that is made available for your Android phone, we are here to help you get over the fear of flashing a ROM that enhances the capabilities of your device so that you can use it to its fullest potential.

Here is a quick look at what we will be covering in this guide. Feel free to skip to the real deal if you already meet the prerequisites.

  • Before We Begin: Battery Check
  • Before We Begin: Unlocking the Bootloader (Stock Android Devices Only)
  • Before We Begin: Rooting
  • Before We Proceed: Installing a Custom Recovery
  • The Real Deal: Installing a Custom ROM to your Phone
  • The Real Deal: Installing an App From a Zip File to your Phone

There are certain steps that you might not require, and we shall be mentioning them in each section.

Before We Begin: Battery Check

Before you proceed with any of the following steps, make sure your phone’s battery level is not too low. It is recommended to have it at 50% or more. Do NOT take this lightly. If your phone’s battery runs out while you are attempting to flash a custom ROM, there is a significant chance of your phone getting bricked and becoming unusable PERMANENTLY.

Before We Begin: Unlocking the Bootloader (Stock Android Devices Only)

Note: This step applies only to Android devices with stock version of Android installed. At the moment, Google Nexus One and Nexus S are the only two such devices available. You may skip this step if you are using any other Android device.

Users of stock Android devices such as the Google Nexus One or Nexus S also need to unlock its bootloader before they can proceed. To do this, simply follow our guide on what is the bootloader and how to unlock it for stock Android phones. Once you have done this, you may proceed to the next step.

Before We Begin: Rooting

Note: You may skip this step if your device is already rooted, or if you already know how to root it.

Before you can install a custom ROM to your device, your phone needs to be rooted.  Rooting is basically administrator or root level access required to perform administrative tasks on your Android device. To root your phone, you can refer to our detailed guide on how to root an Android device. Once you are done with the rooting process, you may proceed to the next step.

Before We Proceed: Installing A Custom Recovery

Note: You may skip this step if you already have a custom recovery installed on your device.

Rooting grants you the necessary access level to execute administrative tasks on your Android device but it is the recovery that provides the tools necessary to actually perform those tasks. While every Android device ships with a recovery, the stock recovery is quite limited in what it lets you do, and you need a custom recovery image to perform advanced operations on your device. We have covered this process in detail in our guide on how to install a custom recovery to a rooted Android device that you can follow. Once you have a custom recovery installed on your phone, you will be ready to proceed to the next step.

The Real Deal: Installing a Custom ROM to your Phone

Now that you have a custom recovery installed on your phone, you can perform all sorts of wonderful advanced operations on your device and this includes the ability to flash a ROM or application from a zip file. The procedure is pretty standard for most ROMs, though there are certain ROMs which require additional steps for their installation. Since those steps differ from ROM to ROM, we shall be mentioning those in our reviews and guides on those ROMs, and feature only the standard instructions here.

There are two paths to follow from here. You can either use ROM Manager to specify the actions you need performed in Recovery, and it will take care of everything for you, or you may manually reboot your phone into recovery to perform the steps yourself. We will cover both methods here. If you used the ROM Manager method to flash ClockworkMod recovery, you already have it installed. If you used some other method to flash the recovery, or flashed a recovery other than ClockworkMod, you might not have ROM Manager installed but you can get it for free by searching for it at the Android Market.

  • Using ROM Manager
  1. Download the ROM from the link given in the article featuring that ROM. It should be a zip file.
  2. Connect your phone to your computer via USB and mount its storage card.
  3. Copy the downloaded ROM to the storage card. It is a good idea to place it on the root of the storage card.
  4. Launch ROM Manager on your phone.
  5. Tap ‘Install ROM from SD Card’
  6. Scroll down and tap on the zip file for the ROM that you copied to your sd card in step 3. You will be presented with a dialog box titled ‘Install Queue’.
  7. In case you want to install another zip file immediately after this ROM, tap ‘Add zip’ and select the next zip file that you want flashed. Skip this step if the ROM is all you want to flash for now.
  8. Tap ‘OK’. You will now see a dialog titled ‘ROM Pre-Installation’, with options to backup the existing ROM and wipe data and cache.
  9. ALWAYS check ‘Backup Existing ROM’ UNLESS you can afford to lose everything that’s on your phone at the moment.
  10. ALWAYS check ‘Wipe Data and Cache’, UNLESS the ROM you are attempting to flash is an updated version of the same ROM that you are currently using, and is compatible with the previous installation’s data. It is usually mentioned with the update whether you can install it over a previous version without wiping its data or not.
  11. Tap ‘OK’ and confirm any prompt that you get. Your device will now reboot into recovery and the selected ROM will be automatically installed. The new ROM will be booted once the installation is complete, though you might be prompted to confirm the reboot.
  • Manually
  1. Download the ROM from the link given in the article featuring that ROM. It should be a zip file.
  2. Connect your phone to your computer via USB and mount its storage card.
  3. Copy the downloaded ROM to the root of the storage card.
  4. Power your phone off and reboot it into recovery. This will involve using a combination of your device’s hardware keys. In case you don’t know how to do this, you can follow our guide on how to boot your phone into recovery. Once in recovery, you can navigate its menu using the volume up and volume down hardware keys or your phone’s trackball / optical track pad if it comes equipped with one.
  5. Use the ‘backup and restore’ feature of recovery to backup your existing ROM installation, software and data. This step is known as performing a nandroid backup. For more information on how to make and restore backups, see our guide on how to perform and restore a nandroid backup. ALWAYS perform a backup before flashing a custom ROM, UNLESS you can afford to lose everything that’s on your phone at the moment.
    Note: ALWAYS choose to perform the following steps 6, 7 and 8 UNLESS the ROM you are attempting to flash is an updated version of the same ROM that you are currently using, and is compatible with the current installation’s data. It is usually mentioned with the update whether you can install it over a previous version without wiping its data or not.
  6. Get back to the main recovery menu and use the option ‘wipe data/factory reset’. You will be prompted to confirm this action. Select “Yes – Delete all user data”.
  7. From the main recovery menu, select ‘wipe cache partition’. You will be prompted to confirm this action. Select ‘Yes – Wipe Cache’.
  8. From the main recovery menu, enter the ‘advanced’ menu. From this menu, select ‘Wipe Dalvik Cache’. You will be prompted to confirm this action. Select ‘Yes – Wipe Dalvik Cache’.
  9. Go back to the main recovery menu by pressing the back button and select the ‘Install zip from SD card’ option.
  10. Select ‘choose zip from sdcard’ to get a list of the files and folders on your SD card. Scroll to the ROM’s file that you copied there in step 3, and select it. You will be prompted to confirm this action. Select ‘Yes – Install file_name.zip’ where file_name.zip is the name of the zip file that you are trying to install.
  11. Wait patiently while the ROM is flashed to your phone via recovery.
  12. Once the installation is complete, head back to the main recovery menu if you aren’t there, and select ‘reboot system now’. Your phone will now boot into the newly installed ROM.

The Real Deal: Installing an App From a Zip File to your Phone

While most apps for Android devices are available at the app store for direct download and installation or as .apk files for direct installation, there are certain apps which are only available as zip files installable from recovery. Their installation procedure is the same as installing a custom ROM that we just featured above. However, there are a few minute differences.

  • When installing an app from a zip file, you do NOT need to perform the ‘wipe data/factory reset’ step so NEVER do that unless you know what you are doing, have a complete backup and want to start using your ROM as a fresh installation with the new app added.
  • You might or might not need to wipe the cache and the dalvik cache for installing apps from zip file. This varies from app to app and the developers of such apps as well as many reviewers including us mention when featuring an app whether it requires a cache and dalvik cache wipe or not. However, it never hurts to wipe these caches anyway, and it does not effect the data on your device or its storage card.

There you go, this concludes our guide on how to flash a ROM or app from a zip file to your Android device using a custom recovery. To try out the skills that you just learned, search our site for custom ROMs for your phone and start flashing, always remembering to take backups first!


  1. Hi, I followed the instructions above to update my Dell Streak 7 from Android 2.2 to Android 4.4 Kitkat. The Rom manager seems to install from the zip file, but after rebooting the system stays on Android 2.2. Am I doing something wrong? Should I try a different zip file? Thanks.

  2. Hey I need help. I wanted to install windows phone 7 on my htc hd2, but it appears to have been purged from the internett, at least here in the US. I’ve tried to install several Android versions instead using clockwerkmod, and even though it says installation is successful I don’t get past the Android splashscreen during start-up. I can’t charge my battery and I think I’m screwed.

    • I just had to give it more start-up time (was no mention of that in the otherwise very nice instruction), but I was so stressed out not knowing how much battery was left, so when it didn’t finish booting after 2 min I just plugged it out and tried something else. But it turned out the phone was charging while plugged in after all, there was just no indication of it. Man I’m so happy now. It’s like a brand new phone. I’ve always hated my HD2, but now I’m really exited. Thanks for great instructions! Just sad they won’t allow us to have WP7. I’ve always felt entitled to it. Would serve them good too to have a lot of happy HD2 owners out there praising Windows, instead of a bunch of hurt and disappointed ones such as myself, talking nothing but trash about it.

  3. Can i Install SanGinger Ace KS3 version on my stock PKO Rom???

    Or i have to have KS3 as Baseband Stock Rom Also to make Custom Rom (SanGinger Ace KS3) Work???

  4. i am getting signature verification failed every time i try to add a rom on my vibrant, my phone is rooted. any suggestions.

  5. Somehow screwed my lgp500. Still able to get into cwm recovery but can’t mount usb.
    here is message:Unable to open ums lunfile(no such file or directory)

  6. well, i’ve flushed rom on my LGP500H dozens times(No one performed all functions correctly). So I googled more and tried advises… As a result phone is dead. I can get into recovery, i can install saved/new ziped roms but they will not start: logo for a minute and …reboot. Backup doesn’t work. Files are there but cwm doesn’t see them. Please advise!

    Thank you for your great job and Happy new year to everyone! 

  7. Mine says “missing ID-verification”. What am I suppose to do now? I followed the each steps from the “ROM manager Instructions” when it starts to reboot to install the new ROM it says installation aborted due to verification of ID. Something like that.

    • i have an lg p920 when i tried to update it’s os,it restarted before the installation is completed and the battery indicator showed 0% even though i charged it before updating and now does not charge anymore,i’ve tried several custom roms,they all installed successfully but there is still that error,the phone will shutdown when it is unplugged from my pc

  8. I want to ask something.
    My phone is galaxy s2. Firmware is Gingerbread 2.3.5 XXKI3. I have installed CriskeloROM v22 to my phone. First time, it is OK.
    I re-flashed my phone to XXKI3 again and then I tried to re-installed CriskeloROM v22 again. At that time, my phone is stuck at the stage of yellow triangle appeared on the screen.
    I don’t know what shall I do. So I long pressed the power button and re-flashed with odin to XXKI3 again.

    What shall I do to be able to install CristeloROM to my phone?
    Please help me!!!!!!!

  9. Hey thanks for the info I have a question I use LG p500 which I flashed to stock gingerbread update by LG and I want to install cyanogen mod but if I install it will I able to get back to stock ROM again if yes how and I use gingerbread stock ROM in which I don’t find reboot option when I hold the lock key for long plz reply me soon plz plz…….!!!!!!!!! Don’t ignore the question

  10. I followed all the instructions down to installing a custom ROM manually. When I select the .zip file on my SD card, it starts the flashing but stops with a message saying: “Installation aborted.” I have an HTC HD2 that had the original windows ROM. What do I do now? I can’t get past MAGLR but I can get to AD Recovery… HELP!!

  11. Hi.
    I’m trying to flash a rom from zip, but when my phone reboots it’s back to where it was before i started.
    I can see when it’s preparing to install rom, and suddenly all goes fast. Before the phone reboots i think i see a picture of the “android man” with a exclamatin mark.
    Am I doing anything wrong?
    Hope someone can help me.

  12. Transformer stuck at logo startup + click sound!

    On my asus transformer android 3.1, I installed from sd.zip the file to overclock to 1.6 (after making a system backup in CWM). Forgot (important?) tot wipe cache and dalvik cache. Installation was succesfull.

    On reboot i saw a status bar very shortly between the top of the logo (EEE pad) and the Asus logo on the bottom. Than it looked like this system was going to start but the logo’s came op and freezed. After a few second a clicking/ticking sound comes up. Logo + clicksound stays and everything is realy stuck!

    I’have tried everything many times: on/off with button and in recovery, restore backup (complete and advanced part by part), battery drain etc. NOTHING helped.

    Whatever I do, when starting up the logo comes up and freeze + ticking sound.
    WHO can help me (beginner) out … or is this the end of my short life with this super tablet?
    Many thanks for a helping hand.

  13. Late post, sorry, but I heard on other “how to’s” that as you flash a different rom you should flash a zip file of google apps as well. Is this true or optional? What is the benefit/harm of doing it and not doing it? And does it matter which version of gapps.zip I flash (no matter my phone type or the rom I’m flashing)? And if it does where can I find that? BTW I have the HTC Glacier 4G and want to flash cyanogenmod7. Thank you much

  14. I have installed a ROM from Recovery, said it installed, went to reboot and it reboots back into recovery every time. What am I missing? Why will it not reboot into the new ROM? This is a Dell Streak 7. Noob mistake, we did a factory reset on a rooted device… now it’s stuck in recovery. HELP!

  15. hi, can you explain what the radio file that comes with some ROMs, is? and how to install it, thanks in advance.

    • That varies from ROM to ROM, depending on what’s included and what isn’t. Though if it is taking unusually long, there might be an issue. In such cases, at times you have no choice but to abort the process and recover the nandroid backup that you took earlier. The reason for the issue can not be generalized either and at times simply retrying helps while at other times, it just wouldn’t work for you regardless of how many times you try it. Seeking help at the ROM’s original thread at XDA-Developers is a good idea and helps most of the times. Please note that whatever you do, do so at your own risk as these modifications often have no general or official solutions.

  16. hi does anyone know how to get firmware for samsung wave gt-s8500,i got my phone unlock from a high st mobile repair shop and gps is not installed on it,there must be a file missing for the gps,the phone did have gps system in it when i purchased it from a store…thanks in advance

    • Hello Munir,

      Samsung Wave GT-S8500 runs Bada OS and unfortunately, we haven’t had any experience on that platform because of its very limited scope and negligible market coverage. I tried looking up information for you to help you update your firmware but couldn’t find any resources that I could count on. You might want to try contacting the shop where you got the phone unlocked from, and get them to fix the GPS issue if it was working before you gave them the device.

      Edit: I refined my search after making this comment and found these links. Hope these help:

      Please note that I haven’t tried any of these methods and can not endorse them or guarantee that they work – I am just trying to help with whatever I can found. You should attempt these or any other methods that you find, at your own risk. I hope your issue gets resolved.

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