msc mobile emerging technologies blog

How To view all files/data of your Android app

Posted by Klaus Rollinger on Feb 14, 2017 9:32:57 AM

On a not rooted Android device you cannot view your app's file content. This might be necessary when dealing with files like databases, logs or downloads.
The guide was written for a windows machine, but the steps are the same for macOS as well.

To view the app's private content you need to

  • backup the apk from the device
  • convert the backup
  • extract the convert backup

Backup the apk

In order to backup the apk you need the Android SDK tools.

  1. open a command prompt
  2. (optional, if Android SDK folder is included in PATH) navigate to the SDK installation folder where adb.exe is located, e.g. "C:\Users\Klaus\AppData\Local\Android\sdk\platform-tools"
  3. run the command:
    1. adb backup -f <backupname.ab> <apk package name>
      <apk package name>: name of the apk you want to backup
    2. <backupname.ab>: file name/path of the backup (it must end with .ab); if you not enter a path, the backup will most likely created in the adb.exe folder
    3. example: adb backup -f myAndroidBackup.ab com.mscmobile.sam.fatclient
  4. on the device: you will be asked to allow the backup, you can also enter a password (optional) which will encrypt the backup

How to extranct the content of an Android app

Convert the backup

For this step you will need an external tool. I recommend using Android Backup Extractor which is a Java program and runs platform independent.

  1. open a command prompt
  2. navigate inside Android Backup Extractor folder
  3. run following command:
    java -jar abe.jar unpack <backup.ab> <convertedBackup.tar> <password>
    1. <backup.ab>: the file/path of your backup apk
    2. <convertedBackup.tar>: the name/path of the converted backup
    3. <password>: (optional): the password you specified when exporting the apk. omit if you did not specify a password

Extract the converted backup

To extract the .tar file use a unzipper of your choice, e.g. WinZip.

This way you can extract the content of your Android app without rooting your device.


Topics: Android