Don't switch between devices: Here's how to run Android apps on Windows and Mac computers

Typing away on a sales report for the boss, you decide to take a well-deserved break from work.

Will it be some laughs on TikTok? Sending friends a snap via Snapchat? Playing a game of "Clash of Clans" or "Crash Bandicoot: On the Run"?

The problem is, all of these are mobile apps, and your smartphone is lying on a charging mat. Oh, and the kids are watching videos on your iPad.

Why shouldn't you be able to access these on the laptop or desktop you're already on?

You can, in fact, run Android apps – designed for a smartphone – on your Windows PC or Mac.

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There are a couple of different ways to pull this off, in fact, and they’re free, too.

Here are two of the best solutions, to running millions of Android apps on your computer:

Access apps and play Android games on your Windows PC or Mac, for free, with Bluestacks, an emulator that lets you use Android apps on your computer.

How to run Android apps on your computer with Bluestacks

The best solution is to install BlueStacks 5 for Windows PC (or Bluestacks 4 for Mac), which lets you run Android on your personal computer.

The San Jose, California-based company claims more than 2 million Android games and apps are supported on its emulator, thanks to the software’s complex virtualization technology developed by 10 engineers over the years.

Because Android is an open operating system, BlueStacks is completely free and legal for users to download and install. It only takes up 2GB of storage once installed, not including any apps you may download.

Other system specs are equally as modest, such as requiring at least 4GB of RAM (system memory), though 8GB or more is recommended. BlueStacks 5 might also require the download of a newer graphics card driver on an aging computer. But that’s about it.

To download apps and games from the Google Play Store within BlueStacks, simply log in with your Google ID (Gmail address and password) and have at it.

It may take a bit of experimentation to see how some games should be best played on a PC or Mac. For instance, if you’re used to controlling a racing game by tilting your Android phone, you might opt for a keyboard or gamepad instead.

Apps that leverage your smartphone’s camera, such as Instagram, will require a computer with a webcam, of course.

Along with support for the Google Play store, BlueStacks 5 includes a Controls Editor (to create and customize unique control options for your favorite games) and Game Center (which lets you browse through games, based on genres, popularity, and other variables).

You might not know Windows 10 lets you wirelessly access content on your Android smartphone and iPhone, and run them on  your laptop or desktop. The only catch is they both need to be on the same Wi-Fi network.

How to run Android apps on your computer using Your Phone app

A second way to access Android apps and games on a Windows PC is to launch the Your Phone app, which is already built into Windows 10 (and on many Samsung Galaxy smartphones, there’s a preinstalled Link to Windows app, which can also work).

It’s a bit more of a headache to set up and its performance isn’t as good as Bluestacks, but it does let PC users wirelessly access apps on your nearby smartphone – so long as both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

If you start from your PC, in the search box on the taskbar, type the words “your phone,” and then click or tap to launch the app.

If you start from your Android phone, select this from the list of phone models. You’ll be asked to sign in to your Microsoft account, and then prompted to install or open the companion app on your Android device. To do this, open a web browser on your Android device and then enter the link that’s displayed on your PC.

Next, sign in to the companion app with the same Microsoft account that you’re signed in to on your PC. On your PC, select the “Pair with QR code” button. Now use your Android app to screen to scan the QR code that’s displayed on your PC, to link the devices.

Now you can wirelessly access your Android phone from your PC, and even pin Android apps to your Windows taskbar, and launch them individually.

While the Your Phone app does in fact work to access Android apps on a Windows PC, be aware that gamers may find performance a little sluggish.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How to run Android apps on Windows, Mac for free: Bluestacks, app