Caio Landau Caio Landau
Jun 23, 2018 • 4 min read

Flutter/Android: Installing the Support Library on a Flutter project

In this small post, we’ll look at how to install the Android Support Library on a Flutter project.

Update: use AndroidX instead if possible!

The Android Support library is deprecated and has been replaced with AndroidX. I wrote a similar guide on how to use AndroidX on your Flutter project.


If you’ve worked with Android projects in the past, you may be used to having the Support Library for various backwards-compatible goodies. It comes for free when creating a regular Android project with Android Studio.

Flutter developers, on the other hand, chose not to include this. It’s simply not needed for Flutter to work and increases the app size. So that makes a lot of sense.

But if you need to work on Android-specific code, chances are this library will be a requirement. So let’s see how to get it set up!


This guide will assume:

Installing the Android Support Library on your Flutter project

For this part, we’ll be using Android Studio as our tool of choice. While this can be done with Visual Studio Code, Android Studio makes it a lot easier on us.

Open the correct project

The main “trick” here is opening the correct project in Android Studio:

  1. On Android Studio, click File > Open... and navigate to your Flutter project’s root. Don’t open it just yet!
  2. In your project’s root folder, you will see a folder called android. That’s the one we’re looking for - open it
  3. You will notice this is just a regular Android project. If you never opened it before, you may see an error message: Flutter SDK not found. Define location with flutter.sdk in the file. To fix it, as the message says, simply open your file in that same project and add:
    # This is the full path to your flutter SDK - the one you downloaded from
  4. Android Studio should now be able to build it correctly

Install the Android Support Library

Now that you have the right project opened and set up, installing the Support Library is simple. If you are used to Gradle, you can skip the step-by-step option and go straight to option 2. It’s faster.

Option 1: Step-by-step, using Android Studio to help

  1. On the Project navigation on the left, right click the main project module (it’s called app by default) and select Open Module Settings
  2. On the left hand side of the window that just opened, make sure your module is selected under Modules. Again this is the app module by default
  3. Open the “Dependencies” tab, click the + at the bottom left and select Library Dependency
  4. Type in the search and press the search button on the right. You should get only one result. Double click it and press “Ok” to complete the change

Android Studio will trigger a Gradle sync for you.

Option 2: Quick way (add the dependency directly to build.gradle)

What all the steps above do is simply find the latest version of the library and add the dependency to the build.gradle file. If you are used to Gradle, you can achieve the same by editing the build.gradle file yourself. At the time of writing, the dependency looked like this:

implementation '' <-- Make sure to use the right version. This was up-to-date as of writing this article

That’s it!

If you used option 2, make sure to trigger a Gradle sync now. You should then have access to the same support tools as you expect from a regular Android project.

And as the official docs say: Happy Fluttering! :)

Bonus: Writing Android-specific code in your Flutter app project

If you open the android folder from the Android Studio window where the root Flutter project is open, it won’t work correctly. Android Studio won’t find the required SDKs and libs, and you won’t get any help from the IDE.

But now that you opened the correct project, you should be able to write code using all the right Android environment. Simply keep both windows open, and whenever you want to work on Android code, use the Android window. If you want to work on Flutter/dart code, use the Flutter window.

You can find more information on the Flutter Plugin for IntelliJ docs for Android.

Post by: Caio Landau