How to update Android emulator without Android Studio?-ThrowExceptions

Exception or error:

I don’t have Android Studio, just the Android SDK. When I launch one of my Android emulators using the Android Virtual Devices (AVD) Manager, I get the following message:

Your emulator is out of date, please update by launching Android Studio.

Starting Android Emulator dialog

According to the steps, it seems that one could update the emulator even without Android Studio just by using the Android SDK Manager. But there is no SDK Tools tab.

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Is the SDK Manager which is launched as a standalone application different from the SDK Manager available in the Android Studio?

Also, as you can see, everything is up-to-date and the version of Android SDK Tools is even newer than the one that is offered for downloading on the Android website (25.2.3 at the time of writing this question).

So how do I update the emulator? I don’t need/want Android Studio.

How to solve:

The standalone GUI SDK Manager is deprecated as of SDK Tools v25.2.3.

The instructions you see in the “Starting Android Emulator” run window are specific to updating via Android Studio. The SDK Manager inside of Android Studio is different than the standalone tool. We added new SDK packages that the old SDK Manager does not understand how to process nor update, including the new Emulator.

You have two ways going forward to update the emulator:

  1. Use the new command line SDK Manager: $ ./sdkmanager --update Read more here

  2. Use the new SDK Manager in Android Studio

Based on the window output, it also looks like your AVDs might be old, so you may want to create new AVDs or update for the latest features and better emulator performance & stability.

SDK Tools Release Notes saying it has been deprecated:
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It is possible to update Android emulator without Android Studio using what I previously described as the “forced manual upgrade” and following the discussion in that post, I figured out some things concerning the standalone SDK:

It seems the emulator (originally distributed
as part of the Android SDK Tools) is no longer updated since version

Thus the workaround involves a “manual/forced upgrade” of emulator tools. Currently I successfully upgraded to version 27.3.8 (and running Android 9 smoothly).

The workaround

Firstly make sure the base packages are still intact, and upgrade the emulator as follows:


  • Download the latest (or suitable emulator) from the links supplied below
  • When done, decompress the downloaded file and extract the emulator package to %USERPROFILE%\Android\android-sdk\tools or relevant path (yes you have to merge it into that folder, since the emulator doesn’t have all libraries and files)
  • After this your emulator will be updated (to 27.3.8 in my case):

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Android SDK manager (GUI)

Now prepare your AVD as usual:

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Android AVD manager

Important links

Base and Emulator tools(zip)

Special thanks to androiddev for providing links for linux, eaglemt and Vladyslav Panchenko for providing the links to repos and mostly important for mac os links.

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