How to Install and Use ADB

You must first set up ADB on your preferred platform if you want to perform any of the numerous tasks that call for access to the so-called Android Debug Bridge (ADB) or the fastboot tools for Android, such as sideloading apps, installing custom ROMs, taking screenshots in apps that prohibit it, or accessing particular hidden features. Fortunately, you can currently do this on almost any device; you can even launch ADB from another Android phone or a web browser. No matter what platform you’re using, we’ll help you get set up in this guide.

Android setup

Your Android device needs to be configured first. You must go to the About section and tap the Build number entry seven times in order to enable the developer options if you haven’t already in your system settings. Because it’s so simple, you’ll receive congratulations for becoming a developer and a new entry in your system settings called Developer options will show up. Look for the USB debugging toggle when you enter those, then turn it on.

Installing ADB

Windows, macOS, Linux, and Chrome OS: Android Studio

If you’re a developer or looking to get into Android app development, you should install Android Studio. It is Google’s official IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for Android applications and includes ADB and fastboot in addition to all the other tools you’ll need to start your projects. Additionally, the software will guarantee that your tools are always current. You can download Android Studio on the Android Developers website. The installation process is straight-forward — just follow the on-screen instructions from the installer.

The standalone SDK platform tools might be a better choice if you want to save some valuable space on your computer’s storage, especially if you don’t want to get into app development because Android Studio is quite large when installed. ADB, fastboot, and systrace are included as part of the tools, just like when you install Android Studio. They can be found on the website for Android developers. Although adding them to your system’s path will require extraction, you probably don’t want to bother. There is a script that makes the procedure simpler.

Windows: Manual setup

If you prefer to set up ADB and the platform tools on Windows manually for some reason, we’ve got you covered:

  1. Download the SDK platform tools for Windows from the Android Developers website.
  2. Extract the ZIP file into a folder you can easily remember (like C:/platform-tools)
  3. Open a command window in the folder by holding shift and right-clicking in an empty spot in the folder and selecting “Open command prompt/PowerShell here” in the menu. Then you can start using ADB — connect your phone and try .ADB devices to see if it’s working. A list with attached devices should show up.
  4. If you computer doesn’t recognize your phone, you may need to install its respective Windows USB driver additionally. Alternatively, there’s an open-source universal driver if you don’t want to go through the hassle of finding the correct one for your device.

If you want to be able to just open a command window and start using ADB without navigating to your platform-tools folder first, you’ll need to add the folder to your Windows path (note that Nexus Tools takes care of that automatically for you):

  1. Search for “system environment” in the Windows 10 Start search and select “Edit the system environment variables” from the results.
  2. Click “Environment Variables…” towards the bottom of the window that just opened.
  3. In the lower section of the next window under “System variables,” look for the “Path” row. Select it and click “Edit…”
  4. In the “Edit environment variable” window, you can hit the “New” button and add the path with the platform tools. In our example, that’s “C:/platform-tools.”
  5. Exit all windows and save the changes you’ve made by selecting “OK.”
  6. Open a new command prompt or PowerShell and see if ADB devices now works without navigating to your platform-tools folder first. You also won’t have to add . in front of it anymore. You might have to restart your computer before the change takes effect.

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