BlackBerry Guide: How to Install 3rd Party Applications on Your BlackBerry

Posted by Cooper on June 4, 2008

There are many types of BlackBerry users out there. There are people who use their BlackBerry for strictly business purposes, keeping up to speed with their constant flow of email and work related correspondence, but there are also a growing number of people who are adopting the BlackBerry as their device of choice that have no interest in using the BlackBerry for “work”. These people are casual users who are more concerned with staying in touch with their friends and social network connections.

For all groups of BlackBerry users, there are countless third party applications available that can help modify the BlackBerrys’ functionality to meet their individual needs. Whether they are casual, pick up and play BlackBerry games, social networking tools, or hard core database management software, they are out there and waiting for the right user to download them and put them to good use.

The more savvy BlackBerry user will no doubt be very comfortable downloading and installing third party applications onto their device. For the ever growing group of novice BlackBerry users, there may be some confusion between the various file types involved and which methods are to be used to get that sweet new game/app into the palm of their hands. For this group of people, we have decided to produce a “How To” guide that will show you the ins and outs of downloading and installing third party software onto your BlackBerry.
The Various File Types You Will Encounter
.JAD files: An application descriptor that stores information about the application itself and the location of .COD files
.JAR files: a JAR file (or Java ARchive) is used for aggregating many files into one. It is generally used to distribute Java classes and associated metadata.
.COD files: A COD file is a proprietary file format developed by RIM that contains compiled and packaged application code.
.ALX files: Similar to the .JAD file, in that it holds information about where the installation files for the application are located
Installing Third Party Software OTA (Over The Air)
Performing the OTA download and installation of a third party application is usually the easiest option. Most application developers will provide direct links to the .jad or .jar files required for internal installation on your BlackBerry. There is usually a second option for download to your desktop and installation via the BlackBerry Desktop Manager. The Desktop Manager installation process is described in the next section.

Downloading OTA is super easy. Simply navigate to the download page for the application you wish to install and find the direct (OTA) download link. From within the BlackBerry browser menu, select “Get Link” and then click OK for each step of the installation. Here are the steps you must perform in order to download a third party application OTA to your BlackBerry:

Navigate with the BlackBerry Browser to the desired application download page.
Example: Google Maps Mobile
Often you will be presented with a link to the download, or the option to enter your cellular phone number and have the link sent to your device via SMS.
Follow the supplied link (either direct or SMS) from within your BlackBerry Browser and follow all the instructions that appear on your screen.
The new application will be unpacked and installed by your BlackBerry Browser and your new software will be now be available in your applications list.
NOTE: If you are using your BlackBerry in a BES configuration which is overseen by your IT department, you may not have the ability to install your own third party applications to your device. If this is the case, you will have to contact your IT professional and request that they add the software and deploy it to your device. This may be against the policy that your employer has dictated so it is best to get approval before any such request.

Installing Third Party Software Via BlackBerry Desktop Manager
Most of the time when you find a third party application that you wish to install on your BlackBerry they will be available in multiple formats. The OTA download is usually the easiest and most convenient way to install software; however, for those who face technical issues or for those without an adequate data plan, there is a more desirable solution.

Installing third party software on your BlackBerry via the BlackBerry Desktop Manager is a simple process. In only a few steps you will have all the applications you like installed on your device and ready to go.

The first step you need to take is to ensure that you have the latest version of the BlackBerry desktop Manager installed on your computer. For instructions on how to accomplish this task, head over to our guide to installing BlackBerry Desktop Software.

Once you have downloaded and installed your BlackBerry Desktop Manager, you are ready to try out your first third party software installation. In order to complete the installation, simply follow the steps outlined below:

Navigate to a download link for any piece of third party software you like and download the required installation files to your desktop.
Example: BBSmart Email Viewer (use the free trial as a test and choose the full download option)
Once you have downloaded the desired application to your desktop, you may have to unzip/extract the contents to a new folder. Inside your newly created folder you will find a file that ends in .alx
Connect your BlackBerry via USB to your computer and launch the BlackBerry Desktop Manager.
In the menu you will see an option for “Application Loader”. click this and you will see a screen appear that displays all the applications currently loaded on your BlackBerry.
Above the list of currently installed BlackBerry applications you will see a button that says “Add”. Click on this button to bring up the add application dialog box.
Navigate to the folder that you have saved on your desktop in the previous step and locate the .alx file contained within. Choose OK and this application will appear in the list with all of your other installed software.
If you have downloaded multiple pieces of software to install, you can go ahead and click the add button again and navigate to the next .alx file and click OK. Repeat this process for each additional third party application you wish to install.
Once all desired applications have been introduced into the application loader, verify that they each have a check mark next to them and click the button labeled “Next” which appears below the list of applications.
You will see the BlackBerry Desktop Manager run through a process and your BlackBerry may restart.
Upon reboot of your BlackBerry you will see all of your newly installed applications on the applications screen of your device.

Installing OTA Files via BlackBerry Desktop Manager
There are certain instances where you will not have the option to download a version of the third party application in a format which is accessible to your BlackBerry Desktop Manager/Application Loader.

If you run into this issue and there is no way for you to download and install the files OTA, you have the option of converting the .jad and .jar file types into a .alx setup compatible with the Desktop Manager. There is also a second (easier) solution for those of you who are operating a BlackBerry with a MicroSD card.

Since this is a novice introduction to installing third party software onto your BlackBerry and the file conversion is very complex, I am going to save the conversion method for a later How To guide and focus only on the MicroSD card method this time around.

Desktop install of OTA files with a MicroSD card
The process of installing OTA software via the Desktop Manager is essentially the process of tricking your device into thinking it is grabbing the required files from the web. To do this you will have to have a BlackBerry with a MicroSD card inserted and the device must be in Mass Storage Mode. The steps to follow for a proper install are as follows:

Ensure that your BlackBerry is in fact a model that supports the insertion of a MicroSD card.
Purchase and install your MicroSD card in your BlackBerry.
Download the .jad and .jar files required for installation and save them in a folder on your desktop.
Connect your BlackBerry to your computer via the supplied USB cable.
Once you have connected your BlackBerry to your computer, launch the BlackBerry Desktop Manager.
You will be presented with an alert on your BlackBerry screen that asks you to enable Mass Storage Mode. Select yes. If you do not see this prompt, go into your media card settings on your BlackBerry and ensure that you have media card support turned on and enable the mass storage mode. There should also be an option to turn on Mass Storage Mode automatically upon connection to you computer. Choosing yes will save you from having to repeat this step again later on down the road.
Your BlackBerry should now be recognized as a drive by your computer.
Drag and drop the folder you have saved your installation files in from the desktop to the newly found “BlackBerry drive”.
Once all of your files are in place, navigate on your BlackBerry to the media section and from the menu select “Explore”.
Select your media card and then drill down into the folder containing the desired installation files.
Choose the file that has an extension ending in .jad. This is the file the BlackBerry will recognize as a downloadable item. You should now see a download screen appear. Click the download button and away you go.
The third party application will now be installed on your BlackBerry and accessible through the applications list along with all your other applications.
There you go, three out of the four methods of getting third party applications installed on your BlackBerry. Good luck in your hunt for applications!

As a quick starting point, why not check out our list of the best free software available for your BlackBerry or our list of 170+ free games for your BlackBerry (recently updated to more than 250).

Have fun and post any questions or comments you may have below.

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#3778 Ariel on June 9th, 2008 at 3:40 pm
Thanks a lot! This is the most complete guide i’ve found on this subject.

#6923 alex on July 27th, 2008 at 6:28 pm
di all of the above. in the and after choosing ” download” I’ve gtoa message ” download failed” , when prompted for details got a message ” invalid 907 JAR code”
Do I have to unlock my BBerry or what was that ?

#7468 Calculating on October 1st, 2008 at 6:42 pm
My blackberry 7520 doesn’t have a flash card reader. The desktop software only allows me to select alx software, but nearly every application out there uses the .jad descriptor file, even the stuff that says its for blackberry 7520. My blackberry wap browser and sms are not supported by my provider. All I want to do is install standard .jad/.jar j2me applications, which supposedly the blackberry is compatible with… How do I do it?

#7470 Cooper on October 2nd, 2008 at 7:40 am
Calculating – in the post above click on the first link below “Installing OTA Files via BlackBerry Desktop Manager” and read that forum post very carefully. There are a number of links to software and instructions on how to convert your jd/jar files to the cod format required to load applications onto your device.

#7471 Cooper on October 2nd, 2008 at 7:46 am
Eric – it looks like you have a jar file that has not been formatted correctly. I would notify whoever you are trying to download the application from and ask if they have had any other complaints. They may not know their file is broken.

#7618 Becky on October 16th, 2008 at 8:00 pm
I love the Desktop to MicroSD card method. Thanks for making this information available. The Desktop Manager from BlackBerry seems to be useless. How would your method work if the software I want to download only has .alx and .cod files?

#7625 Cooper on October 17th, 2008 at 7:51 am
Becky: Glad you found the post informative. Thanks for reading BBGeeks.

If you only have the .alx and .cod files, simply save them to a folder on your desktop and then use the Application Loader in the desktop manager to load the files onto your BlackBerry.

This method is described above under:
Installing Third Party Software Via BlackBerry Desktop Manager

let us know if you have any trouble loading your apps =)

#7631 Becky on October 17th, 2008 at 10:57 am
Thanks Cooper.
I cannot get the Application Loader to work. That is why I used the last option provided by

I have determined that I have the lastest device software offered by ATT – v4.3.0.93. And my Desktop Manager is v4.3. So is there a need for me to upgrade either of these?

Do I need to use the sync function in DM? I am not sure how to use this if I am not using an organizer.

What am I missing or doing wrong??

#7633 Cooper on October 17th, 2008 at 11:30 am
Becky: does the desktop manager recognize your BlackBerry as connected? If so then I would suggest upgrading the desktop manager software you can find it here (have to sign up as a member)

Get the English language with media player.

If your BlackBerry is not being recognized as connected do a hard battery pull WHILE IT IS CONNECTED THROUGH USB. When it comes back online the desktop manager should see it.

#7636 Becky on October 17th, 2008 at 12:17 pm
Desktop Manager does recognize my Blackberry as connected. Which version of desktop manager should I choose from this website? – 4.3 since that is what my device software is???

I did not have to sign in as a member for

Thanks very much for your help,

#7637 Cooper on October 17th, 2008 at 12:46 pm
I would suggest either 4.6 (I am using it now with no issues) or dropping back down to Desktop Manager 4.2 as there are lots of reports of 4.3 being buggy.

If you do opt to go back down to 4.2 then be sure to get the Service Pack 2 upgrade as well for the best results.

#7645 Becky on October 18th, 2008 at 10:28 am
Cooper, thanks very much for the help!! I upgraded to 4.6 and installed my application very easily.
Thanks so much!!

#7763 What does OTA mean and how does it work? | BB Geeks on October 29th, 2008 at 11:06 am
[…] advantage of downloading OTA is that it’s one process. Instead of using multiple devices and taking multiple steps to […]

#8314 Niblick on December 6th, 2008 at 12:43 pm
This may be a technical issue or maybe it’s just PEBCAK. I have a new BB Bold and I’m on the Rogers Wireless network in Canada. I’ve downloaded the Gmail app successfully and I can use the Google search box within the app, however, mail and maps (the only things I’m truly interested in) won’t install and won’t tell me why. I click to install GMail…I get a progress bar that never moves and the install falls back to the search screen after a few seconds. The only error message I get is in the gmail app it tells me “Could not download Gmail”. This is the same result whether I am using the 3G or Wifi. Any ideas?

#8406 Laner on December 10th, 2008 at 4:29 pm
I have downloaded and installed a couple of 3rd party applications on my Storm: Opera Mini and DynoPlex EFile. I can see them in the Applications area under Options: Advanced Settings, but they don’t appear anywhere in the Applications from the Home screen. I can see Maps, Word to Go, etc., but none of the new applications. How do I access them?

#8707 I_know_how on December 25th, 2008 at 1:46 am
I only have one issue with the above instructions, one key point to remember is that you have to add be sure to add the install files together. you have to add the .alx AND the .cod file at the same time….so highlight the files or clicking one and holding down CTRL and clicking all the files, and click open.

I have been hearing about all your problems with the error message “no additional applications designed for your device were found” and people just having just general error messages while trying to download 3rd party software.
Heres the steps that worked for me:

After you have downloaded the zip file onto your desktop, open it (either automatically or using winzip or a zipping program) make a new folder on your desktop and place all the files in it except any instruction manuals, or .doc or .txt files. Those are just for you to read or know seperate from sending to the phone.

with your phone plugged in to the computer

On your desktop manager, open the application loader.

Depending on your version and model either click add or browse

a box will appear asking where the file is…. this is the tricky part….go to the new folder you created on your desktop…. you have to add the .alx AND the .cod file at the same time….so highlight the files or clicking one and holding down CTRL and clicking all the files, and click open. when you do this, you will notice the name of your application you want to download in the list now. Check the box for that application, click next or save, and then it will be in your downloads folder. For example I downloaded the mylocation application in my zip folder were 3 files .alx, .cod, and a .jad file. I highlighted all of them and it worked great.
I have the latest desktop software and I have the new Blackberry Storm, but it should be the same for most models.
Hope that helped!

#8913 Confused on January 8th, 2009 at 2:34 am
I have a BB Pearl 8100. Followed the instruction to copy .jar files to memory card in BB. When clicked on and to open . Then select . Located all the .jar files. But when clicked on the .jar file. Message appeared
“Unable to display file/Media Card/filename.jar
Pls advise on how to solve this problem. Many thanks.

#8921 Cooper on January 8th, 2009 at 12:17 pm
@Confused – You may have a corrupted OS or Desktop Manager. It seems that there were a whole batch of Pearls sent out with flawed software.

I suggest upgrading to the latest version of both your carrier OS and the Desktop Manager Software.

If this does not fix your problem report back and I will try and sort it out.

#9078 Milk on January 19th, 2009 at 12:32 am
I have the same problem as him with it saying
“unable to display file/media card/filename.jad

I have no problems installing alx files through the desktop manager.

#9246 Henry on January 29th, 2009 at 9:23 pm
I have a .jar file and a .jad file but no .alx file. I’ve never downloaded a third party application. I there a way to unzip these files to download the applicatin?

#9296 Kelly on February 3rd, 2009 at 11:22 pm
I have a 3rd party download it is eagleeys(j2me new version) on blackberry storm but when I go to log in it stays at the sys login screen. I can’t figure out how to get it to run. And I can’t find anyone who can help me figure it out either. Any ideas would be greatful. I printed the info and hope hubby can figure it out. Thanks

#9317 Marty on February 5th, 2009 at 10:28 am
I have a company blackberry but when i try to download any games i get an error message stating “your it policy does not allow you to download 3rd party applications”… is there anyway to get around this ?

#9318 Cooper on February 5th, 2009 at 11:35 am
@Milk – not sure what is happening there – it could very well be a corrupted jad file you are trying to install.

@Henry You should load the jad and jar files onto your memory card. Navigate to them in the media section of your BlackBerry and click to begin the install. You can not install jad or jar files from the desktop – only OTA or via the memory card (side loading).

@Kelly I would contact the developer of that game/app to see if they can trouble shoot the issue.

@Marty You will have to get permission from your it department in order to load any 3rd party apps onto your device. They will have to do the install for you =(

#9578 mark l on February 15th, 2009 at 8:30 am
for some reason the application downloader doesn’t appear on my menu at all. I have an application folder but not an application downloader. My colleague also has a storm as has the application downloader but I don’t. Any thoughts?

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