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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  • Sfmcduff

    I followed your instructions and downloaded AndroidSDK to my C:drive. However, when I plugged in my Galaxy Windows could not find the driver in the AndroidSDK directory. I checked under Device Manager and it is recognizing the Samsung Andorid USB Device but there is no driver. Was the driver suppose to download in the tools directory and if so what was the name of the file?

  • Sfmcduff

    I opened the SDK manager and downloaded the USB Driver for Windows to my AndroidSDK directory. I tried to add the driver to my Samsung Android USB device under Device Manager and it still does not find the driver. What gives????? This is so beyond frustrating for something that should be so simple. The USB debugging checked. Could there be other settings on my phone that could be creating the problem. I am assuming that the USB device is OK since it is showing up under the Device Manager.

  • Nwill87

    OMG! i have done everything rite at least twice when cmd abd no device serial number help motorola xt701 unlocked

  • Omarrangel80

    everything goes well until i type adb devices.. its says its not recognized as an internal or external command

  • Matt

    once i download the sdk the icon doesnt look like a stack of books, instead it has teh internet explorer icon and when i right click there is no option to extract…???

    • Abc

      lol u have to have win-rar to extact a file duh

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  • Be

    I’m having the same problems with two different Android.
    First the Samsung Captivate and now the Nexus 1.
    I can get as far as device and it show the device ID.
    None of the command work, ie. if I do adb remount I get: remount failed: Operation not permitted

  • derrick

    i am not getting a serial number, mine just says attachments listed

  • I’ve followed this to the letter. When I reconnect the phone all of the drivers install except ADB. I then point it to the location where the driver is… and Windows can’t find the driver. Am losing the will to live. Have been through this loop several times now. Any help appreciated.

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  • Mr Pnutt

    Dear Mr. Unlockr; I rooted my G1 and now I’m trying to setup the ADB/USB drives. I have the debug box checked off I connected the USB Cable and I was wondering am I supposed to mount the SD card via USB? I’m using Windoows7/64 and the link that u setup that goes to My Digital Life says to extract the into a folder; now my ? is do I type the info that they have. Thx in Advance.

  • I have the AndroidSDK strter kit but how do I download the platform I want plus since I rooted my G1 can I run Android 2.2? thx in Advance.

  • You need to download a custom ROM and do our How To Load a Custom ROM procedure for your phone.

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  • udusilm

    about windows 7 instructions: HTC has released HTC sync ver 3 and its working fine with win7 64bit. just tested!

  • Vincsilver

    The “adb files” download link given upster is down.
    To get adb with r08 release : launch SDK manager and apply the available packages.
    After than the manager has downloaded every packages, it’ll start the deamon.
    Now go on a prompt command
    insert : cd C:path_of_your_installation_of_AndroidSDKplatform-tools
    insert : adb shell (or adb devices)
    –> It’s work !

    20101208 Vincent.

  • Vincsilver

    The “adb files” download link given upster is down.
    To get adb with r08 release : launch SDK manager and apply the available packages.
    After than the manager has downloaded every packages, it’ll start the deamon.
    Now go on a prompt command
    insert : cd C:path_of_your_installation_of_AndroidSDKplatform-tools
    insert : adb shell (or adb devices)
    –> It’s work !

    20101208 Vincent.

  • Vincsilver

    The “adb files” download link given upster is down.
    To get adb with r08 release : launch SDK manager and apply the available packages.
    After than the manager has downloaded every packages, it’ll start the deamon.
    Now go on a prompt command
    insert : cd C:path_of_your_installation_of_AndroidSDKplatform-tools
    insert : adb shell (or adb devices)
    –> It’s work !

    20101208 Vincent.

  • The link is NOT down. It works just fine, but thanks for the alternative method to install the ADB files if people need it!

    • Vincsilver

      Ok, link works today.
      Yesterday : MegaUpload said “Link is not available”
      Strange..

    • Vincsilver

      Ok, link works today.
      Yesterday : MegaUpload said “Link is not available”
      Strange..