Sidequest guide: How to sideload Apps on your Meta Quest
With Sidequest you can extend the app catalog of your Meta Quest 2 or Quest Pro. In this guide, you will learn how to install and use Sidequest.
Sidequest launched shortly after the first Meta Quest in May 2019. The Sidequest program facilitates "sideloading" of VR apps. Sideloading is installing VR content outside of the tightly curated Meta Quest store. The Sidequest platform has a variety of VR apps uploaded to the platform by developers.
Sidequest has advantages for both users and developers. Users have a wider choice of VR apps, while developers can test experimental or in-development VR apps early in the market and get valuable feedback.
Sidequest quickly became a popular platform with thousands of VR apps and more than two million monthly active users (as of May 2022).
With the opening of the App Lab in February 2021, Meta copied the idea of a more open app store and experimentation platform for developers. The App Lab exists alongside the Oculus Quest Store and does not require sideloading, which further simplifies access to (largely) uncurated VR apps - a major advantage over Sidequest.
However, the platform still has a right to exist. It offers great VR apps that you won't find in the Meta Quest Store or the App Lab, as well as special tools and settings for Quest headsets.
The App Lab is where most experimental VR apps are now found.
The following VR content is still only available at Sidequest:
- great VR ports of 2D classics like Doom, Quake and Half-Life
- the Beat Saber mod BMBF, which allows you to install custom songs for Beat Saber (guide)
With Sidequest you can also:
- easily download special home environments
- use special tools and adjust the settings on your headset
Are there dangers to sideloading?
Sideloading can be problematic in two ways.
First, Meta prohibits certain forms of sideloading in its own abuse policy. These include sideloading of pirated VR apps and content that infringes on the intellectual property rights of others.
Meta reserves the right to take action against such abuse and to restrict or block the functionality of corresponding user accounts. In the worst case, Meta may even file criminal charges. So far, however, there are no reports that (rule-compliant) sideloading has been punished by Meta in any form.
The creators of Sidequest, husband and wife team Shane and Orla Harris, are cooperating with Meta to ensure compliance with Meta's policies. Sidequest offers neither pornography nor pirated content. Sidequest also offers a control system that identifies abusive or dangerous content before sideloading. Content you find on Sidequest should therefore be largely harmless.
Another risk is that improper sideloading can crash your Meta Quest 2. In the worst case, the VR headset has to be reset to factory settings. This will delete all apps and settings.
What do I need for sideloading?
To install Sidequest, you will need a computer and a USB-C cable to connect your VR headset to the computer.
Sidequest supports the operating systems Windows 10, macOS and Linux. This guide is limited to the installation of the Windows 10 version.
The Sidequest installer is available in two versions:
- The Easy Installer installs Sidequest on your Meta Quest 2 (review). After the installation, you don't need to connect the VR headset to the computer and can use Sidequest directly in virtual reality.
- The Advanced Installer installs Sidequest on your computer and optionally on your Meta Quest 2 (like the Easy Installer). If you use Sidequest on the computer, you get access to special tools and settings options.
Because only the Advanced Installer offers the full range of Sidequest features, I explain how to install this version in this guide. The procedure should be identical for the first Meta Quest series and the Meta Quest Pro (info).
There is a third way to install Sidequest that does not require a computer. You will need a newer Android smartphone and a USB-C cable to connect your VR headset to the smartphone. You can find a video tutorial for this variant of the Sidequest installation on YouTube.
How do I install and use Sidequest?
1. How to download Sidequest and install it on Windows
Go to the official website on your computer. Download the Advanced Installer and install the program on your computer.
2. How to install the Android driver on Windows
Download the Oculus ADB Drivers 2.0.
Unzip the ZIP archive to a folder of your choice. Look for the file "android_winusb.inf". Right-click on it and select "Install". If a window appears with the message "The process was completed successfully", the driver was installed correctly.
3. How to create a developer account and activate developer mode
For sideloading you need to create a Meta developer account.
Next, go to the Meta Quest app on your smartphone. Tap on "Menu" and then on "Devices". Connect the smartphone app to the running headset. Scroll down and tap "Development Mode." Activate it, and restart the Meta Quest 2.
4. How to connect Meta Quest 2 to your computer
Connect your running Meta Quest 2 to your computer via USB-C cable. For owners of the Elite strap with battery, the cable must be plugged into the housing of the headset.
As soon as you put on the headset, two windows should appear that allow you to grant your PC access to Meta Quest 2. Confirm both requests.
5. How to check the connection status
Now start Sidequest on your computer and click on the speech bubble with the question mark in the black bar in the upper right corner.
Under "Connection Status" you can check if Sidequest has recognized your headset. If all four dots are green, you have done everything correctly.
The large green dot at the top left also indicates that your headset is connected to Sidequest. If something is wrong, you will find short videos on the left that will guide you through the most important steps.
6. How to use Sidequest on your computer
Now you can use all Sidequest features on your computer. You can find them in the black bar in the upper right corner.
The functions include, among others:
- Web browser: Search for VR content on Sidequest and install it on the headset. If an app is already available on the App Lab, you will be redirected to the App Lab product page instead.
- Install APKs: Selects APKs (Android and VR apps) on your computer and manually installs them on the headset.
- File Manager: Examine the folders on your headset and copy files from your PC to your headset or vice versa.
- Examine VR apps: Here you can make backups of your VR apps and saves.
- Settings: Adjust various settings on the headset.
To find VR apps that you have installed on Meta Quest 2 via Sidequest, open the app library and then the tab at the top right. Select "Unknown sources" there. Now you should see all installed VR apps.
7. How to install Sidequest on Meta Quest 2
To avoid having to connect Sidequest to your computer every time you want to download Sidequest content to your headset, you can install Sidequest as a VR app on Meta Quest 2.
To do this, click on the speech bubble with the question mark again. You should now see a red button with the text "Install Sidequest in Your Headset" in the upper right corner. Click on it while the headset is connected to Sidequest and the Sidequest app will be installed on Meta Quest 2.
If the installation worked, you should see "Latest Version installed". Now you can disconnect Meta Quest 2 from your computer and continue in Virtual Reality.
8. How to use Sidequest with Meta Quest 2
Open the app library and then the tab in the upper right corner. Select "Unknown sources" and then "Sidequest".
Before you can get started, you'll need to create a Sidequest account and link it to the Sidequest app.
Write down the code and open the URL on your PC or smartphone.
Create an account and then enter the code to link the user account to the Sidequest app on your headset. Now Sidequest should start.
At the top right, there are filters and a search box for VR apps, on the left side you can switch between "Games & Apps" and "Custom Homes" and go to Unknown Sources. All VR apps that you have installed via Sidequest appear there.
If an app is already available in the App Lab, you will be redirected to the respective App Lab product page instead.
If you want to use the advanced features of Sidequest (see step 6 after "Web browser"), you have to connect your headset to the computer and start the Sidequest program. The Sidequest VR app is only suitable for searching and installing VR content on Sidequest.