How To Set Up ADB/USB Drivers & Fastboot for Android Devices (Updated 09/23/15)(Video)

So most people won’t have to use ADB (Android Debug Bridge) ever, but if you want to learn how or want to get a little more technical with your Android phone, here’s how to get it set up.

What is ADB & Fastboot?

ADB is generally used for development when trying to run applications on the phone from the computer so you can debug (hence the name) issues with your app you are creating. Let’s be real though, most of the time, it’s used for rooting Android devices.

Since ADB allows you to communicate with an attached Android phone on a development level it’s extremely handy when we want to issue commands that allow us to, for example, push files to the device and then execute those files all in an effort to root the phone.

Fastboot is similar to ADB in that it’s used for issuing commands to the attached device, but in fastboot mode it’s really more for flashing different parts of Android (i.e. updating the system with a newer version, erasing all the user data, etc.). This mode is more used for manufacturers to diagnose and fix devices with software issues, but, like with ADB, it can also be pretty instrumental in helping our rooting efforts.

We can use fastboot to flash a new recovery image that then allows us to then gain root access that way.

Long story short, when trying to root your Android device, both ADB and Fastboot are tools you’ll probably need to have all setup.

Because ADB and Fastboot are meant really for developers, they aren’t the most intuitive when it comes to setting them up. Because of this, I’m going to layout the easiest ways to get both working on the two most popular operating systems that you guys might have: Windows and Mac (sorry, Linux).

How to Setup ADB/Fastboot on Windows

I. Download and Install ADB & Fastboot

So, back in the day, you would need to download the entire Android SDK to get ADB and Fastboot to work, but thanks to some clever developers out there, you can get away with just downloading minimal versions that only setup ADB and Fastboot and leave the rest of the SDK out, for, you know, real developers.

1. Head to this developer’s page on XDA and download the 15 Second ADB Installer (download link in the first post, download whichever one he says is stable).

ADB Fastboot Installer for Windows

2. Right click the exe that downloads and select Run As Administrator.

3. When it opens, hit y and enter for each of the questions as it guides you through. (This will install ADB system wide so any user of the computer can access it and also install the drivers, which is a huge help as it can be the hardest part of all this to get to work).

4. When it’s all done, restart the computer to ensure they were installed.

5. On your phone, go to Settings > About Phone and continually tap on Build Number until it tells you you are a developer.

6. Hit Back.

7. Go to Developer Options and turn on USB Debugging.

8. Plug your device in via USB cable and wait for it to install drivers.

9. Now, on the PC, Open File Explorer and head to C: then adb and hold shift on your keyboard and right-click in a blank spot anywhere inside the folder (inside that folder you should see adb and fastboot along with a couple other files) and select Open Command Window Here.

10. Type the following into the command prompt window (hitting enter at the end of every line):

adb devices

11. If it’s a newer Android phone, a popup asking to allow the RSA keys will show up. Check Always Allow and accept it.

After that, you should see a serial number pop up, it’s the serial number of your phone. This means you are all set!

If you do not see a serial number, then we need to reinstall the drivers manually in Section II below.

II. Troubleshooting Driver Issues

Sometimes the drivers don’t install correctly and need a little coaxing to get them to work properly. Here’s common ways to do that.

Manually Tell Windows About the Drivers

1. On your computer, use the search feature (either using the search charm on Windows 8 or the search bar at the bottom of the screen in Windows 10) and search for Device Manager and then open it.

2. In the device manager. you should see an exclamation point on an item (this indicates that the drivers didn’t install for that item). Right-click that item and select Update Driver Software

3. Then select “Browse My Computer…”

4. Then select “Let Me Pick from a List…”

5. Select Android Device > Android ADB Device.

Now, unplug and plug the device back in and run the adb devices command from step 13 above and see if you get a serial number this time. If so, you are all set.

How to Setup ADB/Fastboot on Mac

ADB and Fastboot can also be installed on a Mac relatively easily thanks to another clever developer. Here’s how.

I. Download and Install ADB & Fastboot for Mac

1. Download the developer’s script from my Google Drive and save it to your desktop.

ADB & Fastboot Installer for Mac

2. Extract the newly downloaded zip file to your desktop so it creates a new folder called Android on your desktop.

3. Hit Cmd + Space bar to bring up Spotlight Search and search for Terminal and open it.

4. In Terminal, type the following with hitting enter at the end of each line:

cd Desktop/Android

./ADB-Install-Mac.sh

5. That should run the script so everything is installed and you can issue ABD/Fastboot commands from anywhere in Terminal. Let’s test it out, though.

6. On your phone, go to Settings > About Phone and continually tap on Build Number until it tells you you are a developer.

7. Hit Back.

8. Go to Developer Options and turn on USB Debugging.

9. Plug your device in via USB cable.

10. Type the following into the command prompt window (hitting enter at the end of every line):

cd Desktop/Android/Mac

./adb devices

11. If it’s a newer Android phone, a popup asking to allow the RSA keys will show up. Check Always Allow and accept it.

After that, you should see a serial number pop up, it’s the serial number of your phone. This means you are all set!

Some Common ADB/Fastboot Commands

ADB Commands

*For Mac users, simply add a ./ in front of the commands to get them to work.

adb devices – lists which devices are currently attached to your computer
adb install <packagename.apk> – lets you install an Android application on your phone
adb remount – Remounts your system in write mode – this lets you alter system files on your phone using ADB
adb push <localfile> <location on your phone> – lets you upload files to your phones filesystem
adb pull <location on your phone> <localfile> – lets you download files off your phones filesystem
adb logcat – starts dumping debugging information from your handset to the console – useful for debugging your apps
adb shell <command> – drops you into a basic linux command shell on your phone with no parameters, or lets you run commands directly

adb devices – lists which devices are currently attached to your computer

adb install <packagename.apk> – lets you install an Android application on your phone

adb remount – Remounts your system in write mode – this lets you alter system files on your phone using ADB

adb push <localfile> <location on your phone> – lets you upload files to your phones filesystem

adb pull <location on your phone> <localfile> – lets you download files off your phones filesystem

adb logcat – starts dumping debugging information from your handset to the console – useful for debugging your apps

adb shell <command> – drops you into a basic linux command shell on your phone with no parameters, or lets you run commands directly

Fastboot Commands

fastboot devices – lists which devices in fastboot mode are currently attached to your computer

fastboot boot <filename> – boots a rom stored on your pc specified by the filename

fastboot flash <partition> <filename> – flashes a rom stored on your PC, partition can be one of {boot, recovery, system, userdata}

fastboot update zip <zip filename> – updates the phone with a ROM stored on the PC.

Let me know if this worked for you in the comments below!

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  • Stefan

    Thanks for the latest SDK version

    • Alberto

      I download the usbdeview and when i run as administrator

      all i get is Andriod devise and wen i unistall it , it still doesnt install

  • giovanny55

    Hi unlockr
    just a stupid question from a newbiee is this adb driver help solve the problem from some hero roms that consistantly when youre using a application the phone reboots to the htc screen.

    thanks for your help

    • Hello Giovanny55,

      ADB is for sending and controlling stuff on the phone. It can’t make your phone run better.
      You just need to download the Maxisma ROM from the Downloads section, install it and also make sure to do the How To Speed Up Your Hero ROM and you should get rid of that.

  • first of all THANKS, and what about eclipse ddms and etc? i need help with avd, i dont know why, but i put all the ffiles in the right place (system32 etc) but it just wont work!!!!!!!

  • jerzy

    hello unlockr,

    first of thanks.i been trying to get this working for sometime and thanks to you i finally have.this site is my favorite site for all android help.thanks

  • james

    hey i did this and install the drive but doe not work still i type in the adb device and nothing shows up it just says list of device..no serial or nothing please help thanks

    • Hello James,

      Do the rest of the procedure, use USBDeview uninstall the drivers and replug in.

  • james

    i tried that but when i select it to be uninstalled or even disscnet with that program it does nothing…

    • Hello James

      You need to run the program as administrator, right click it before opening it (I do it in the video)

  • hvrobel

    Tried the same as James and it didn’t work and I ran as administrator too. No driver. I tried several times and uninstalled all the HTC and Android devices. Any help would be awesome.

  • Pingback: How To: Downgrade Your HTC Hero So It Can Be Rooted | The Unlockr()

  • hvrobel

    Wow! Ok so I figured out how to do this after trying just about everything I can think of for 2 days.

    This is to help anyone who is ready to end their existence.

    1. I’m running Vista Ultimate 64 bit on both my computers (Yes I tried it all on both!)
    2. I have a 32B Sapphire/MyTouch rooted and I’m running Cyanogen’s latest ROM. (If you don’t know what this is you shouldn’t be using this tutorial anyhow.)
    3. I used this tutorial exactly as shown in the video. Tried using USBDeview to uninstall the drivers and still wouldn’t recognize the drivers for my phone. Windows asks for the driver. So I went to the file in the C;/AndroidSDK for usb drivers. Windows tells you that it’s not there and can’t install it.
    4. Found a forum online telling me to edit the registry delete some files. (Think this process is for XP 64 bit operating systems. Either way it didn’t work.)

    This worked.
    1. Make sure first that you turn on USB Debugging on your phone by going to Settings > Applications > Development > USB debugging. (Leave phone unplugged from computer)
    2. Use USBDeview right-click to run as administrator. Delete anything labeled Android or HTC.
    3. Next you want to go to this link: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=446274
    Download the driver and extract to a location you’ll remember.
    4. The instructions in the link above are kind of vague so this should help for anyone as NOOB as me.

    You want to type “cmd” into your start search bar to bring up the command prompt right-click the cmd program and run as admin.
    5. You need to run Vista in Test Mode (Don’t ask… Pis*es me off too!) right where the the cursor is at the Command Prompt. No need to use cd.. or c:/ type this : “bcdedit /set testsigning on” (without parenthesis of course)
    6. Reboot your computer should have test mode in each corner when it restarts.
    7. Plug in your phone and when prompted let windows search for the driver. When it can’t find it install the driver manually from the file you downloaded and extracted the driver to.
    8. It will give you a brand new red window that tells you how windows doesn’t recognize it. Install it anyhow.
    9. Cha-Ching! Installed! Now do the reverse from the cmd prompt to get your computer out of test mode. And then reboot

    Thanks Unlockr this site has the best tutorials for Android on the Web! Keep up the good work.

    • Hello hvrobel,

      Ha thanks, I appreciate it. I will definitely try :)

      And thanks for this, I’ll add it to the reported issues so others can find it easily. Great addition!

  • Andrew

    Hey Unlockr, im using Windows XP, and when i “run” cmd. I get command prompt. Good so far, but then when i press enter it does not double space and i cannot type in cd/ and stuff to get my abd. so yeah plz message me back T_T. i needs abd

    • Hello Andrew,

      The / need to be \ sorry. Try it now.

  • Andrew

    i mean adb

  • mz_lattee

    “I get a message state windows system 32 is either not designed to run on windows or it contains an error. Try installing the program again using the original installation media or contact your ststem administrator or the software vendor for support” I got all to show ready but the most important one the dream composite abd interface. Any help would be great!

  • I am running XP and when i go to USBDeview and try to run as administrator i dont have that option. I tried selecting the first option but I have 1 HTC driver.dont know how to run as admin, please help. Thanks in advance!

    • @the,

      If you have XP you don’t need to run as admin if you dont have the option just continue from there.

  • ^^^nevermind i figured it out

  • I keep getting the same error for my USB : Code 10: Device Cannot Start. I’ve updated the driver using the location of the usbdriver in the SDK directory. My assumption is that there is something conflicting with the device that’s not letting it start, but I cant figure out what. (I have Project64 & GBA Emulators installed on my laptop as well, maybe that’s it?) In the device manager, there is the yellow exclamation mark. I’ve uninstalled using USBDeview, and my phone is on USB Debugging as well.

    Viewing in USBDeview mode, the serial number of my HTC device & all its informations shows when I click properties. My only problem is that it will not start. This is pretty funny to me, because the only reason I have downloaded Android SDK is so that I can take screenshots of my phone & possibly develop themes for it. Someone please help me!

    I’m using Windows Vista 32bit and I have a Tmobile G1, rooted, running CM4.2.3

  • dcdave63

    You should make sure that you add in the instructions that people need to go into Settings > Applications > Development and select USB Debugging, other wise, this will not work, and no matter how many times you uninstall and reinstall the drivers, it wont take.

  • Barry

    I tried the instructions above and I keep getting this error:

    adb server is out of date. Killing…
    ADB server didn’t ACK
    * failed to start daemon *
    error:

  • nik

    hello unlockr i was wondering if this step was necissary to root the sprint htc hero and get custom ROM?

  • al

    I was wondering if you could help me out i have tried to get adb to work but as the drivers are installing the one that says adb does not install what should i do?

    • Eric

      i have the same issue. and therefore the device is not recognized in the cmd

  • al

    when i search for it i get newdev.exe-bad image also a window pops up saying htc dream composite adb interface driver not intended for this platform