Tuesday, September 26, 2023

How to unlock your Meta Quest with SideQuest

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Shreya Christinahttps://cafe-madrid.com
Shreya has been with cafe-madrid.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider cafe-madrid.com team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

I recently decided that I was going to find out how I play to measure Beat Saber tracks at my MetaQuest 2whatever it took. Luckily the free program I ended up using is called SideQuest, only took an hour or two of tinkering to get started, making it the perfect weekend project. In fact, SideQuest can be used for so much more than just customizing Beat Saber – it lets you sideload community-created games and experiences and even change the Quest home environment that acts as the background for the system menus and app selector.

If that sounds intriguing, read on: we’re about to discuss how to install and use SideQuest to get software onto your headset.

Install SideQuest

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

When I was setting it up I went for the advanced version because I mistakenly thought I had to install a manually downloaded APK app file to change Beat Saber, and the Easy version does not provide that feature. I recommend going for the Easy version unless you know you want to install app files or if you want to install games from a PC (we’ll cover those steps later).

But both versions guide you through installing SideQuest on your Quest. If you’re fine with managing your library just on your headset, the Easy version is the easiest way to get to that point.

After downloading and installing, open the SideQuest app. Both versions include installation instructions for installing SideQuest on your headset, and these instructions may be more current as the process changes. However, what follows are the steps I took.

Get started as a developer

To use SideQuest, you must run Quest in developer mode. To get started, you need to register with Meta as a developer.

In the next step, put your Quest in developer mode.

  • The easiest way is to go to the Quest app on your phone and tap Menuand then to Devices.
  • Select your search and then scroll to Headset Settings.
  • Tap Developer Settingsand then use the switch to enable developer mode.

At this point, you can connect your Quest to your computer with a USB cable and turn it on (if it isn’t already turned on). You have to turn it on for a moment to confirm two prompts; one asks if you want to allow USB debugging and the other asks if you want to allow data transfer. Touch Allow for both.

Install SideQuest on your Quest

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

Screenshot of the SideQuest setup UI, showing an Install SideQuest button.

SideQuest shows you the steps to get your account and headset ready to install the app. Both the Easy and Advanced versions (the screenshot is from the former) will also tell you which steps you missed.

The SideQuest client should prompt you to install the headset version after setting up your developer account and enabling debugging. (If not, it will let you know what else you need to do to get your Quest ready.) Click the to install button, and it should load the app on your headset.

It’s worth noting that you need to link a SideQuest account to use the headset version of the app. You can create an account here and follow the instructions when you start SideQuest on your Quest to pair it.

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

Using SideQuest to Install Apps

SideQuest’s game store collects titles from a variety of sources, including from Oculus App Lab and Itch.io. There are also apps that you can download and install directly from the SideQuest user interface on your Quest.

Screenshot of the SideQuest interface, with a banner at the bottom stating that an APK is being downloaded to install on the Quest headset.

Sideloaded apps are pretty much a one-click install.

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

The easiest way to find and download apps from the Oculus App Lab is with the SideQuest app on your headset.

  • To find it, go to the App Library and look for the dropdown in the top right corner (it probably says: All).
  • Select it, and choose Unknown sources, where SideQuest and other sideloaded apps will be. However, games installed from App Lab will appear in the main tab.
Gif showing the process of going to the Unknown Sources section of the Quest's app library.

SideQuest and sideloaded apps do not necessarily appear in the main menu.

  • To install an App Lab game, tap the Download App (Oculus) knob. It will open the Quest Store to the game page and you can install it like a normal app.

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

Lots of 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 that are now available to you.

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

One final note: While SideQuest unlocks a lot of capabilities, you’re still somewhat limited by the Quest’s operating system and hardware. If you want to use your headset to play PC games (like Half-Life: Alyx, which is the main reason I bought a Quest), you can follow our guide to connecting your computer to your Quest wirelessly. Or watch our video below that highlights some cool Quest features and accessories.


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