How to decode binary Android Manifest XML to human readable text AndroidManifest.xml

If you have some prebuilt android application apk for which you need to know what are the services, activities or permissions this apk is using. You can do this by decoding the binary AndroidManifest.xml after extracting the apk.

We have demonstated how we can do this by using MyTestApp.apk as below,

$ unzip MyTestApp.apk 

Once this apk, is extracted it contains binary AndroidManifest.xml file as we can check below,

$ file AndroidManifest.xml 
AndroidManifest.xml: Android binary XML

Since this is binary XML, we can’t open this for reading hence we need to convert this to human readable format. For this we will be using AXMLPrinter2.jar which can be downloaded from , download and copy this to the directory where we extracted the apk,

$ cp ~/Downloads/AXMLPrinter2.jar . 
 $ java -jar AXMLPrinter2.jar AndroidManifest.xml 
[bash] <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> <manifest xmlns:android="" android:versionCode="1" android:versionName="1.0" android:compileSdkVersion="28" android:compileSdkVersionCodename="9" package="com.example.myapplication" platformBuildVersionCode="28" platformBuildVersionName="9" > <uses-sdk android:minSdkVersion="15" android:targetSdkVersion="28" > </uses-sdk> <application android:theme="@7F0C0005" android:label="@7F0B0027" android:icon="@7F0A0000" android:debuggable="true" android:allowBackup="true" android:supportsRtl="true" android:roundIcon="@7F0A0001" android:appComponentFactory="" > <activity android:name="com.example.myapplication.MainActivity" > <intent-filter > <action android:name="android.intent.action.MAIN" > </action> <category android:name="android.intent.category.LAUNCHER" > </category> </intent-filter> </activity> </application> </manifest> [/bash]

As we can see above, the command “java -jar AXMLPrinter2.jar AndroidManifest.xml” prints the xml files data on terminal. This can be saved to file as,

$ java -jar AXMLPrinter2.jar AndroidManifest.xml > AndroidManifest.xml.txt 

Leave a Comment