"Install In" Or "Install On" - Easy Preposition Guide (2023)

In English, a lot of people confuse the terms ‘in’ and ‘on’. This isn’t surprising. In many languages, the terms are used interchangeably. However, they are not in English. On this page, we want to teach you the difference between ‘install in’ and ‘install on’.

Is It ‘Install In’ or ‘Install On’?

You will use ‘install in’ when you are discussing the installation of hardware/components/objects either inside something or at a specific location. ‘Install on’ will be used when you install hardware/components/objects/software on top of something.

"Install In" Or "Install On" - Easy Preposition Guide (1)

Generally speaking, you will only ever use ‘install in’ when you are discussing placing a piece of hardware inside a machine. For example, if you were building a computer, then you could say, “I have a new HDD to install in my computer”. In rare cases, you may want to use the term to describe the installation of something inside a room, e.g., you have an oven that you install in the kitchen.

In terms of computer software, you would only use the term ‘install in’ when you are discussing placing software in specific directories. Although, ‘install to’ may be better used there.

‘Install on’ will be used when installing a component on the outside of something. For example, installing a roof rack on top of a vehicle would be ‘install on.’

In a computing sense, ‘install on’ would be used to install software to a non-specific location so:

  • I will install on my computer
  • I will install in my ‘Games’ folder.

‘Install in’ and ‘install on’ cannot be used interchangeably.

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What Does ‘Install In’ Mean?

‘Install in’ means the installation of a piece of hardware inside a machine (e.g., a car) or an object in a specific location. In computing, ‘install in’ will be used to refer to the installation of new hardware inside the computer or software to a specific directory.

How to use ‘install in’ in a sentence:

  • I want to get a new engine to install in my car.
  • The computer is asking me to install in the ‘My Documents’ folder.
  • I have a new battery to install in the phone.
  • I have a new oven that I will install in the kitchen.
  • New SIM card? Install in the phone.

What Does ‘Install On’ Mean?

‘Install on’ generally means something will be installed on a piece of machinery or computer. In computing, this may mean installing software ‘on to’ the computer. With vehicles, it may mean installing hardware to the outside of the vehicle.

When used to discuss software installation on a computer, it is only ever used when discussing installation onto a computer in general. When you are discussing installation to specific tiles or folders, the ‘install in’ would be the correct term.

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How to use ‘install on’ in a sentence:

  • I have the game. I am using Steam to install on my computer.
  • I have a roof rack that I need to install on my car.
  • We have new locks to install on the doors.
  • We have some security cameras that we need to install on the walls.
  • The government is looking to get new bollards to install on the side of the road.

Is ‘Install In’ or ‘Install On’ Used The Most?

Both ‘install in’ and ‘install on’ get roughly the same amount of use. However, the use of ‘install on’ is growing, while ‘install in’ is shrinking in terms of use. So, while they get roughly equal usage now, this will likely change over the next decade.

According to Google Ngram Viewer, ‘install on’ was used almost 5x as much as ‘install in’ during the early to mid-part of the 20th Century. This is likely due to the number of people installing components in vehicles, machines, etc.

"Install In" Or "Install On" - Easy Preposition Guide (2)

When computers really started to take off in the 2000s, there was a major uptrend in the number of people using ‘install on’ and a huge reduction in the number of people using ‘install in’. This is likely because there started to be a lot more discussion on installing software on a computer.

By the time the smartphone generation rolled around in 2007, ‘install in’ became the most-used term, although this was very briefly. The usage of both terms is fairly equal nowadays, owing to the fact that they mean different things.

Is it Install In or On Phone?

When talking about installing new software on your phone, you would use ‘install on’. If you were installing a new component inside of your phone, then it would be ‘install in’. It is very rare that you would need to use the latter, though.


  • I just installed a game on the phone.
  • I have a new battery to install in the phone.

In almost all cases, you will need to use an article such as ‘the’ or ‘a’ to make the sentence grammatically correct. You can also use a pronoun such as ‘my’.

Is It Install In or On Car?

‘Install in’ will be used when something is being installed inside a vehicle, e.g., installing a new engine. ‘Install on’ will be used when installing components outside the vehicle, e.g., a radio antenna or even a roof rack.

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In most cases, there will need to be an article before ‘car’, e.g. ‘the’ or ‘a’. At least if you want to ensure that the sentence is grammatically correct.


  • I have a new engine to install in the car.
  • The roof rack must be installed on the car.

You may also like: “In The Car” or “On The Car” – Preposition Guide (+Examples)

Is It Install In or On The Computer?

Whether you use ‘install in the computer’ or ‘install on the computer’ will vary based on context. If you plan to install a hardware component, you will use ‘install in’. If you plan to install software, you will use ‘install on’.

When installing hardware components, you may find that people use the term ‘install in the computer’ interchangeably with ‘install on the computer’. This is due to varying dialects, and both are correct usage here.

These sentences are both the correct usage for the terms:

  • I have a new hard drive to install in my computer.
  • I have purchased a new game to install on my computer.

You may also like: “In My Computer” Or “On My Computer” – Easy Preposition Guide

When Should I use ‘Install To’?

Typically, ‘install to’ is only used when discussing software installation on computers or cellphones. ‘Install to’ will be used when selecting a specific drive or directory to install the software. Some people may say “install to that computer”, although this is exceedingly rare.


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  • Correct: I have a brand new game that I want to install to C:/
  • Incorrect: I have a brand new game that I want to install to my computer.

You may also like: “In The System” Or “On The System” – Easy Preposition Guide

"Install In" Or "Install On" - Easy Preposition Guide (3)

Martin Lassen

Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.

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Related posts:

  1. In My Phone or On My Phone – Which is Correct?
  2. “In The System” Or “On The System” – Easy Preposition Guide
  3. Over The Phone or On The Phone – Which is Correct?
  4. “In The Car” or “On The Car” – Preposition Guide (+Examples)


Is it install in or install on? ›

'install on' when talking about a machine or device as a whole. 'install to' when talking about the storage medium, eg, install to the C drive, or installing 'to' the cloud. 'install in' when talking about the folder or virtual directory.

Is it on my computer or in my computer? ›

Typically, when referring to a file or program, you say that it is on the computer. Which computer did you save that file on? I saved it on one of the computers on the right side of the lab. For completeness' sake, 'in' is used if you are referring to a location of an object.

What is to install in computer? ›

Installation (or setup) of a computer program (including device drivers and plugins), is the act of making the program ready for execution. Installation refers to the particular configuration of a software or hardware with a view to making it usable with the computer.

Which is correct on the system or in the system? ›

Say "it" is fixing a bug in the program: "I have done it in the system" means you have gone "IN" to the system to fix a bug. "I have done it on the system" means you fixed a bug USING that system.

Should I use in or on for applications? ›

For short documents with very structured formats, like lists, forms, and job applications, use ON. It's ON my list of things to do.

Do we use in or on for apps? ›

Both are correct. If you are describing a feature of an app that can be seen on the screen, then you might use “on the app,” but if you are describing a function of the app that is not visible on the screen, then you might use “in the app” because the function is inside and is hidden.

Where do you put in and on? ›

When to use "in" and "on"
  1. IN Use in when something is located inside of a defined space. It could be a flat space, like a yard, or a three-dimensional space, like a box, house, or car. ...
  2. ON Use on when something is touching the surface of something. ...
  3. EXCEPTIONS Now let's turn to the exceptions...

Is it in the software or on the software? ›

Generally when talking about software, you're going to use the word, "in." You might work "on" a project "in" AutoCAD. Also, when talking about a single piece software installed on a computer, generally English speakers will call it a program.

What preposition is used before computer? ›

Generally the preposition in is related with space or volume, and on is related to surface and electronic devices such as computer, internet and telephone.

How do I install a program? ›

Installing software from the Web
  1. Locate and download an .exe file.
  2. Locate and double-click the .exe file. (It will usually be in your Downloads folder.)
  3. A dialog box will appear. Follow the instructions to install the software.
  4. The software will be installed.

Does installing mean downloading? ›

Downloading the file is not the same as “installing” the file. “Installing” the downloaded file means giving instructions to take the downloaded information and use it to change your computer. Without installation, the file just sits there, and nothing is changed or updated.

How do I download or install? ›

Download apps to your Android device
  1. Open Google Play. On your phone, use the Play Store app . ...
  2. Find an app you want.
  3. To check that the app is reliable, find out what other people say about it. ...
  4. When you pick an app, tap Install (for no-charge apps) or the app's price.

Are you in Facebook or on Facebook? ›

1 Answer. “on facebook” is the correct form.

How do you use correct in a sentence? ›

Example Sentences

Verb I hate it when she corrects my grammar. Please correct your essay for punctuation errors. Our teacher hasn't finished correcting our tests yet.

Is work done on or by the system? ›

In terms of physics, if force is applied on a system and the system experiences a displacement then the work is said to be done on the system. If a system applies a force on something else and causes displacement then the work is said to be done by the system.

Which is on or in? ›

'In' implies a preposition, that represents a situation in which something is surrounded by something else. Conversely, 'on' is used in the situation when something is in physical contact with the surface of another object. 'In' is used when we are talking about months, years, seasons, decades and centuries.

Which is correct in Google or on Google? ›

Since google is a software application, you can search 'on' google but not 'in' Google. So the correct sentence is, “I searched on google.”

What preposition is used before application? ›

We usually use FOR or TO, rarely IN. Difference: apply to - we use it when putting ourselves forward as a candidate for something such as a course of study, or a job e.g. apply to graduate, apply to a company for employment, apply to a bank's loan department for a loan, saying something is important etc.

How do you use installation in a sentence? ›

Example Sentences
  1. The cable company offers lower prices and free installation.
  2. These products are designed for easy installation.
  3. Her installation as president will take place tomorrow.
  4. The room contained the company's large computer installation.
Jan 8, 2023

Can I join in or on? ›

Would you like to join us in watching the football game tonight? Your sentence is correct and no change is need as jimsug said in comments you can't use on because it's a phrasal verb so join in is correct.

How do you use installed in a sentence? ›

New locks were installed on all the doors. We thought about installing a new phone system. The computer comes with the software already installed. The software installs easily on your hard drive.

What is installation in simple words? ›

Installation is the process of making hardware and/or software ready for use.

What type of verb is install? ›

​verb transitive ​often passive. UK /ɪnˈstɔːl/ present tense. I/you/we/they. install.

Is it instal or install? ›

Both 'instal' and 'install' are correct in the UK. 'Install' is usually used in the US. Choose one and don't swap between the two in the same piece of writing.

Does software run on or in operating system? ›

The software program either runs under the OS at a lower-level or on the OS at a higher-level. For example; Microsoft Office runs on Windows 7, because it is a high-level software program that requires the services of the OS to function.

What is the use of it in? ›

Information technology (IT) is the use of any computers, storage, networking and other physical devices, infrastructure and processes to create, process, store, secure and exchange all forms of electronic data.

Which on is software? ›

Software is a set of instructions, data or programs used to operate computers and execute specific tasks. It is the opposite of hardware, which describes the physical aspects of a computer. Software is a generic term used to refer to applications, scripts and programs that run on a device.


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