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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  • Luis Vagaroso

    Sorry, one question. I have a HTC touch and is bricked… can i make a goldcard for it?
    Is this solution only for android phones? Mine is windows mobile…
    Than’s

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  • Jodie

    Hi, can anyone tell me why I get to the command prompt and get the “list of devices” but nothing is listed? I’m stumped.

    • Jodie

      Anybody? I’m frustrated!

  • David

    Hi i am having problems getting windows virtual pc to put drivers on my phone. I used sdk and updated everything. When I go into cmd and type in the command lines it just says list of devices attached. I get no serial number. I then proceeded to download drivers manually for behold 2. I went in Device Manager and behold 2 isnt listed. There are yellow question marks where it says other devices> virtual pc integration system. If i click on the setup in the drivers folder it says installed successfully but still no recognization that behold 2 is connected. Also for clarification usddeview shows no drivers or devices hooked up to delete. Please help. Is there somewhere specific I am supposed to manually save drivers?

    • David

      windows virtual pc is running xp

  • Benji

    Hi dude.

    I followed your instructions and I couldn’t get my phone’s serial number. When I typed adb devices it just said “list of devices” and there was nothing else. I used USBdeview and uninstalled and plugged my phone back in. All I got was a new driver just like the one I had before. It says HTC Android Phone USB Device. I still don’t have one that says ADB device or anything. I’ve tried over and over and it won’t work. I need to activate my phone but I don’t have a data plan. I also tried updating my driver from the usb drivers folder in the androidsdk folder, but I think that didn’t work because it said it couldn’t find a better match than the one I already had. Please help.

    Thank you,

    Benji

  • ab

    hey i did everythinq as shown, and you c at the end when it says your device is ready to use and it says usb composite ready to use and all of the other stuff mine only saids usb mass storage ready to use, does that matter, and its not giving me a serial number or nothing, can you please help me,

  • jose

    hey just to let people know so they wont make the same mistake i did. it took me a week till i figured it out. those of you who are using tethering, THIS PROCEDURE WILL NOT WORK, YOU MUST DISABLE TETHERING FIRST IN ORDER FOR YOU TO GET YOUR SERIAL NUMBER. do your downloads first then either print this page or just leave it open and dont close it for the instructions. then disable tethering, (reboot your phone if you have to, i noticed i had to with “pdanet tether”) then follow the procedure and you should get your serial number……for xp users, (i dont know about others thou), after you do the procedure your tethering wont work so on your computer press control+alt+delete at the same time, click on task manager, click on “adb” just once, then end task and your tethering will work again. (note you will have to do that everytime you use cmd for your phone in order to get either or working)

  • albert

    hi this is killing me….i still don’t get why i say’s not a registered device when i run it on cmd….please help..
    I’m using windows xp..
    this is what i did…i turn on usb debbuging on my phone then connect it to the comp.then something pops up asking me if i want to install the driver and i click yes but it cannot find the driver and i don’t know why…o and i also did what u said on the video…..

    • jose

      try rebooting your phone and make sure you aint using tethering

  • http://www.facebook.com/Overatedkiller Christian Lacosta Audigieer

    guys can u help me? i found the super user application but then i dont know how to use it

  • G-ster

    How do I enable USB debugging on my Motorola Cliq

    • http://theunlockr.com TheUnlockr

      Same way on all phones (listed in the procedure).

      Settings > Applications > Development > Check USB Debugging ON.