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How to unlock Meta Quest with SideQuest

How to unlock Meta Quest with SideQuest

I recently decided I was going to figure out how to play custom Beat Saber track on Meta Quest 2, no matter what it takes. Luckily, the freeware I ended up using, called SideQuest, only took an hour or two of tinkering to get up and running, making it the perfect weekend project. Even better, SideQuest is useful for so much more than just changing Beat Saber — it lets you sideload community-created games and experiences and even change the Quest home environment that serves as the backdrop for the system menus and app selector.

If that sounds exciting, read on: we’re about to go over how to install SideQuest and use it to get software into your headset.

Installing SideQuest

The first thing you need to do is install SideQuest on your computer. To begin, go to the website and choose whether you want to download the Easy or Advanced installer.

When I set it up, I went with the advanced version because I mistakenly thought I needed to install a manually downloaded APK app file to change Beat Saber, and the Easy version does not offer that feature. I would recommend going with the Easy version unless you know you want to install app files or if you want to install games from a PC (we’ll go over those steps later).

But both versions will walk you through the process of installing SideQuest on your Quest. If you’re comfortable just managing your library on your headset, the Easy version is the easiest way to get to that point.

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After downloading and installing it, open the SideQuest app. Both versions include setup instructions for installing SideQuest on the headset, and these instructions may be more up-to-date if the process changes. However, what follows are the steps I took.

Set yourself up as a developer

Using SideQuest requires Quest to be running in developer mode. To get started, you need to register as a developer with Meta.

  • Go to developer.oculus.com/sign-up/, read the instructions, and then click Sign up button.
  • Sign in to the Facebook, Meta, or Oculus account you use with the headset.
  • From there you create an organization that you can name whatever you want.

In the next step, you will put the Quest into developer mode.

  • The easiest way is to go to the Quest app on your phone and tap Menuand then go to Units.
  • Select your Quest, then roll to Headset settings.
  • Press Developer settingsand then use the switch to turn on developer mode.

At this point, you can connect the Quest to your computer with a USB cable and turn it on (if it’s not already on). You have to hit it for a second to confirm two messages; one asks if you want to allow USB debugging and the other asks if you want to allow data transfer. Hit Allow for both.

Installing SideQuest on Quest

After enabling debugging, you should be able to install apps from the SideQuest data client, provided you are using the advanced version. But if you want to be able to install them directly from your headset, you can install a version of SideQuest directly on the headset.

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Screenshot of the SideQuest setup interface, with an Install SideQuest button.

SideQuest walks you through the steps to get your account and headset ready to install the app. Both the simple and advanced versions (the screenshot is of the former) will also tell you any steps you’ve missed.

The SideQuest client should prompt you to install the headset version after you’ve set up your developer account and enabled debugging. (If it doesn’t, it will tell you what else you need to do to complete the mission.) Click on Install button and it should load the app onto your headset.

It’s worth noting that you’ll need to connect a SideQuest account to use the headset version of the app. You can set up an account here and follow the instructions when you start SideQuest on Quest to connect it.

Now you are ready to install apps, either from your computer or from the headset itself.

Uses SideQuest to install apps

SideQuest’s game store brings together titles from multiple sources, including from Oculus’ App Lab and Itch.io. There are also apps you can download and install to Quest directly from the SideQuest UI.

Screenshot showing the SideQuest interface, with a banner at the bottom saying it's downloading an APK to install on the Quest headset.

Sideloaded apps are mostly a one-click install.

Installing a sideloaded app from the PC app is easy: just make sure your headset is connected, then click Download app (sideload) button. SideQuest will download it and install it on the headset.

If you want to find and download apps from the Oculus App Lab, it’s easiest to do so using the SideQuest app on your headset.

  • To find it, go to your app library and look for the drop-down menu at the top right (it probably says Everyone).
  • Choose it, and choose Unknown sources, which is where SideQuest and other sideloaded apps will be. However, games installed from App Lab will appear on the main tab.
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Gif showing the process of getting to the Unknown Sources section of Quest's app library.

SideQuest and sideloaded apps may not appear on the main menu.

  • To install an App Lab game, tap Download app (Oculus) button. That will open the Quest Store to the game’s page and you can install it like a regular app.

You can also install sideloaded apps directly from the headset, but the first time you do so, you’ll probably need to give SideQuest permission to install apps.

Have fun

Now that you’ve installed SideQuest and can use it to load other games and software onto your Quest, it’s worth checking out some of the best titles now available to you.

As for what I did to get customized Beat Saber songs, it is a relatively complex process that may involve downgrading the version of the game installed on your headset. I recommend following the guide on the Beat Saber Modding Group Wiki – it should cover the various scenarios you may encounter and will most likely be up to date.

One final note: while SideQuest unlocks many possibilities, you are still somewhat limited by Quest’s OS and hardware. If you want to use the headset to play PC games (like Half-Life: Alyx, which is the main reason I bought a Quest in the first place), you can follow our guide to connect your computer to the Quest wirelessly. Or check out our video highlighting some cool Quest features and accessories below.

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