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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  • teddy

    thx for the tutorial unlockr, but iwant to ask u something.after i hit adb devices, i didnt get the serial number but i get the type of the phone samsung behold2(SGH-T939).did i do wrong? btw im running on window xp.

  • Pao

    Hi Unlockr,

    I followed your steps correctly and manually reinstalled drivers using USB deview program. It works perfectly but when I got in cmd screen it won’t show its serial number. It goes back to C: prompt “access is denied”. Here it is:

    C:\>AndroidSDK\tools>adb devices
    Access is denied.

    Btw, I’m running Microsoft Vista home basic. Your help is greatly appreacited. Thanks.

    • Pao,

      Why are there > in what you typed?

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  • Jonathan Healey

    Can someone rewrite this for me because im in Macbook Pro. and i would love to know how to do this…thanks.

  • @Jonathan Healey – It’s basically the same process for a MacBook Pro, except that you do not have to install anything, just download the latest Android SDK, inside that folder there is a folder named “tools”, open a terminal window, browse to that folder, but instead of typing just “adb devices” type “./adb devices” and the serial number should pop up….and of course the obvious, have USB Debugging is on and yout phone plugged in. Have fun :)

  • nessa

    hey unlockr, what if the device’s serial number still doesn’t show up ?
    i have the behold 2

  • Raul

    Unlockr, problem with getting to the home screen on the G1 is that we can’t because we don’t have a data plan so its not possible to do this tutorial.

    • Raul,

      You don’t need to be at the home screen. It’ll connect with it at the touch to activate screen.

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  • kidd_pat

    will a serial # show up for the g1 ?
    and will i need to manually download a driver fr the my touch slide ?

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  • Alex

    I went throw driver installation in my old laptop which is running Windows XP SP2.
    I did install drivers for HTC myTouch 3G and Samsung Behold 2.
    Everything is working properly for both devices, no problem at all. Right now I am ready to root my phones.
    In the order to process and illuminate any kind of potential problem I did install .NET Framework 3.5 and latest JDK. Then I unpack Android SDK and find out it is not usb_drivers folder in there, under folder. When I execute Setup SDK under folder I got an error about HTTPS access which was easy to solve inside by selecting Force HTTPS under Settings section. After that it took a while to get packages and USB drivers for HTC. Anyway I did install as well drivers from the link for Behold 2.
    After all at all my phones I went to Application settings > Development and selected USB debugging and Stay awake. Connected one phone and waited for drivers installation and then for other one the same action.
    Command line execution showed proper information for both phones.
    Thank you guys for your advices and solutions.
    I can tell base on my installation experience – it is working for HTC myTouch 3G and Samsung Behold 2.

  • jtc442

    what am i doing wrong?? i cant get adb to install. keep getting errors saying not specified path not found and some others too when i go to the command prompt and type in the info.

    • cloud1129

      i cant seem to locate my cliq… i reinstalled the program a few times and no luck.. im a newbie im rooting phones… will someone tell what im doing wrong

  • Paul

    hay unlockr the behold 2 drivers link is broken..please fix it

  • Alex

    2Paul, link to driver for Samsung Behold 2 is still okay. It was working before and I did check 5 min ago. Firefox prompted to save ZIP file.
    2jtc442, are you in Android SDK folder? Check if you did install packages at Setup SDK application. If okay, then use CD at CMD to reach Android SDK folder and then tools.

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  • D

    Please help!!
    I’m pulling my hair put trying to figure out how to install all of the htc g1 drivers. I’m in the phone set up, and in order to adb all the drivers need to be activated? idk i’m really stuck. I’m running windows 7 32bit.

  • Duc

    I was setting up the ADB and I got stuck on the cmd part. I typed to the part “adb devices” and instead of a serial number pop up, it was a sentence “List of devices attached”.
    So I skip to Step 3 to check the USBDeview, but there was no HTC driver to delete.
    I don’t know what is wrong with my process, please help!

  • Geneo

    Folks
    I am an old guy 80 Retired Military just bought a Sprint HTC
    Had an old Pearl with ATT. I could turn it on and off accept calls.
    Well this Sprint is really something and my brain is trying to digest
    The features.
    Well I thought I would be cute and try to add to the phone and PC.
    Bought Radio Time so I could access all radio Stations on Sprint HTC.
    No luck in that department. They E-mailed the below file and I have no idea
    What to do to add it to my Sprint HTC.

    rt.201004.apk

    Geneo
    Jacksonville FL

    • TheUnlockr

      Geneo,

      An apk file is a program file for Android (the OS your phone is running, like how your computer is running Windows OS).
      Simply plug you phone in via USB cable to your computer, pull down the notification bar at the top and select the USB notification that came up. Then click mount.
      Now you should be able to transfer files to the sd card folder that just popped up on your computer when you hit mount.
      Transfer that .apk file to the sd card, then unplug the usb cable.
      Now goto the Market on your phone and search for ‘Linda’ (without the quotes). Download and install the Linda File Manager Free program.
      Once that is installed open it from your application list and click on sdcard then click on the .apk file you just saved to the card. If it gives you a warning click on the settings button and check Allow non market apps, then hit back and click on the apk again. Choose install. Once it is done installing, go back to your application list and it’ll be there.

  • Deepak

    damn!!!!
    all these rooting, adb processes etc are way too difficult for me atleast.
    loading iOS is kindda easy. :(

  • andy

    hey how come it doesnt get the serial number after i follow all the steps i have a g1 and im using windows xp
    no serial number shown