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Last updated: May 11, 2024


Apktool is used to unpack Android app packages (APKs). Simply unzipping APKs with the standard unzip utility leaves some files unreadable. AndroidManifest.xml is encoded into binary XML format which isn’t readable with a text editor. Also, the app resources are still packaged into a single archive file.

When run with default command line flags, apktool automatically decodes the Android Manifest file to text-based XML format and extracts the file resources (it also disassembles the .DEX files to smali code - a feature that we’ll revisit later in this book).

Among the unpacked files you can usually find (after running apktool d base.apk):

  • AndroidManifest.xml: The decoded Android Manifest file, which can be opened and edited in a text editor.
  • apktool.yml: file containing information about the output of apktool
  • original: folder containing the MANIFEST.MF file, which contains information about the files contained in the JAR file
  • res: directory containing the app’s resources
  • smali: directory containing the disassembled Dalvik bytecode.

You can also use apktool to repackage decoded resources back to binary APK/JAR. See the techniques "Exploring the App Package" and "Repackaging" for more information and practical examples.